Nature’s gift to romance is the sunset, and there’s no better place to watch a Sonoma County wine country sunset than Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa.
In fact, Paradise Ridge hosts a weekly event called “Wines and Sunsets in Paradise.” Unfortunately, those events are limited to early May through mid-October, which means it’s not a Valentine’s Day option. Still, a planned trip to Paradise Ridge for that event would make a nice Valentine’s gift.
On those select Wednesday evenings, visitors are invited to bring a picnic and enjoy award-winning Paradise Ridge wines while watching spectacular sunsets from the winery’s expansive veranda and beautiful poetry terrace. ”Wines & Sunsets” begins at 6 p.m. and ends once the sun has set.
Although the tasting room is closed, guests will find a wide selection of wines available to purchase by the glass or by the bottle. Be aware that only wines purchased at “Wines & Sunsets” are appropriate, but food may be brought in by guests. In fact, Paradise Ridge recommends three nearby purveyors of excellent picnic fare (see below).
While “Wines & Sunsets” is limited to the warmer months, there’s another reason to visit Paradise Ridge anytime of the year: Marijke’s Grove, a sculpture exhibit nestled in a four-acre grove of ancient gnarled oaks. Within the wooden glens are “galleries” connected by simple footpaths.
Sculptures are displayed among mossy rocks and small grassy clearings in this natural outdoor gallery. Rather than acquiring a permanent sculpture collection, Marijke’s Grove supports the arts by creating an exhibit space where art, ideas and nature converge, and where the art changes annually.
Adjacent to the grove, in the environs of the Nagasawa winemaking building, an art garden reveals additional sculptures displayed among the trees. Marijke’s Grove is open daily during regular tasting room hours.
Speaking of the tasting room, it features Paradise Ridge’s selection of wines from the Russian River Valley and the Rockpile viticultural area. A combination of romance, family values and rich European tradition inspired the dream of the winery, which graces a hillside overlooking the city of Santa Rosa.
When Walter Byck married Marijke Hoenselaars in Holland in 1961, little did they realize that together they would build a wine estate in the heart of one of the world’s finest grape-growing regions—Sonoma County. Walter and Marijke moved to Santa Rosa in 1965 and realized they had found a haven to raise their growing family.
In 1978, after more than a year of searching for a ranch where their five children could camp, hike and fish, Walter came home one night, rain dripping from his coat, and said, “Marijke, children… I have seen paradise!” Thereafter, the 156 acres of land became known as Paradise Ranch.
Their love of wine, combined with a growing alliance with the incredible region they now called home, inspired Walter and Marijke to plant their own vineyards.
Within the first year of owning Paradise Ranch, Sauvignon Blanc had been planted. Chardonnay was added in 1985 and ’86, making a total of 17 acres of grapevines.
Recognizing the outstanding quality of their estate vineyards, the Bycks were encouraged to start their own winery. After five years of planning, the dream of Paradise Ridge Winery became a reality. Opened in May of 1994, it has become a haven where guests can come to savor the wonderful wines, bring their friends and soak in the magnificent views.
The winery welcomes visitors with a European-styled courtyard, leaf-shaped deck, expansive verandas and a terra cotta terrace. Guests also can enjoy breathtaking views of the vineyards and the Russian River Valley from the distinctive indoor/outdoor tasting bar. The beautiful and serene atmosphere also provides a perfect setting for special events and for joyful brides and grooms to exchange their wedding vows.
In 2001, after 10 years of making wine, Paradise Ridge completed a state-of-the-art winemaking facility. Situated in the heart of the estate, it was carefully designed to be as beautiful on the outside as on the inside.
Sadly, Paradise Ridge lost Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars in early 2006. But the Paradise Ridge family, including son Rene and daughter Sonia, along with General Manager Denise Stuart, carry on the rich tradition and dedication to quality.
Combine quality wines with spectacular views and breathtaking sunsets, and you have the perfect recipe for romance.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Paradise Ridge Winery
4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr., Santa Rosa, CA
Open Daily, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tasting Fee: $10
PURVEYORS OF PICNIC FARE:
TOMORROW: A romantic inn, spa…and, yes, winery…in the state of Washington.