This past week I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, CA. This post is not sponsored by Paradise Ridge, however we did visit with wine club members, so our tasting fees were waived.
Paradise Ridge can be found nestled in the hills of Santa Rosa, CA, about a ninety minutes north of San Francisco, in heart of Sonoma County wine country. Paradise Ridge is an aptly named winery boasting of spectacular views, delicious wines, and life-sized art installments throughout the property. It is small and has been family owned since it’s founding as a home estate in 1978.
Here at Paradise Ridge, they produce around 5500 cases of wine per year, which puts them well below the 11,000 case limit for a boutique winery. This allows the winemaker, Dan Barwick, to cater to the performance of the grapes in lieu of producing for the masses, as so many of the mass production wineries are forced to do. Mr. Barwick has created some unique wines, such as his sparkling shiraz and New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc, that you don’t typically find in the tasting rooms of California wine country.
Our gracious and well informed host, Stacey, took us through 6 wines while we were there. Come along as I share them with you.
First on the list was the Paradise Ridge 2014 Vineyard Select Sauvignon Blanc.
This is the New Zealand style sauvignon blanc I referenced above. It has a greener characteristic with less minerality than most California sauvignon blancs. I picked up layers of green apple, passion fruit, and lime. The one thing that was missing is the underlying odor of cat pee that I pick up in almost every New Zealand sauvignon blanc that I taste. Yep, cat pee. It’s not usually strong, but for my nose is sensitive to it and for that reason I prefer California sauvignon blancs. This wine was light, bright, and more than welcome next to my pool this summer or paired with Brussels Sprout Hash.
Paradise Ridge 2014 Estate Chardonnay from the Nagasawa Vineyard (currently available only in the tasting room) was the next selection.
This chardonnay has the characteristics of a burgundian style wine. It had a slightly creamy texture, which results from going through malolactic fermentation, but I wouldn’t call it buttery. Also, it is aged in French oak instead of American, to impart less oaky flavor to the finished product. The overall result gives us a wine that isn’t too fruity, has a well rounded mouthfeel, and good balance of butteriness and oak. I would pair this with Potato Parsnip Soup, Chicken Pot Pie, or a simple salmon fillet.
Moving from white into red wines brought us to the Paradise Ridge 2013 Estate Pinot Noir from Walter’s Vineyard. (currently available only in the tasting room)
This pinot noir is softer than I expected for a Russian River Valley pinot noir. The acidity is lower, resulting in a smoother, mellower wine that is incredibly drinkable. It went down so easily I had to taste it twice. It’s aged in French oak and has a nose full of dark cherry, soft blueberry, and plum. I’d pair it with these Pork Chops or a fresh salad with spinach, dried cranberries, and goat cheese.
The Paradise Ridge 2012 Estate The Posse from Hoenselaars Vineyard was up next.
A rhone style blend of petite sirah, syrah, zinfandel, and grenache. Showing off the talents of the winemaker, this blend was co-fermented. That means the grapes and the designated ration was selected prior to fermentation. The winemaker is essentially tasting the grapes, predicting how they will taste as wine, and blending right at the beginning. I have great respect for winemakers that can make amazing blends, but even greater respect for the talents of a winemaker that can create amazing blends that are co-fermented. This is a rich wine with a deep ruby color, nice acidity, tannins that are evident but don’t knock you over, and a smooth finish. I’d pair it with Lamb Shepherd’s Pie or a sausage pizza.
The Paradise Ridge 2011 Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon from Rockpile Vineyard (available only in the tasting room.
This barrel select line of the Rockpile cabernet sauvignon is a reserve wine made up of the 5 best barrels of the 2011 Rockpile cabernet sauvignon. This one has a rich red color, with tannins that are just beginning to soften. I smelled all green pepper on the nose, but the rest of my tasting party got cranberries, tart red cherries, and even a bit of red raspberries. In my opinion, this wine needs to age a little bit more, but I prefer my cabernet sauvignon around the 5 – 7 year mark, or spend a couple hours in the decanter. If you prefer younger wines, by all means enjoy it now. Pair it with steak tacos or a juicy burger.
2012 Sparkling Shiraz (only available in the tasting room – limited supply)
Being that we visited on New Year’s Eve, we couldn’t walk away not tasting something bubbly! This sparkling shiraz was just the ticket for something a little unusual. Deep red in color with little tiny bubbles make this wine slightly reminiscent of a stout style beer instead of wine. The tannins present in the shiraz have the characteristic drying sensation and when matched with the bubbles it makes for a very unique drinking experience. I wasn’t a fan at first, but it definitely grew on me after the first few sips. Pair it with a cheese board and any celebration that needs something extra special.
Paradise Ridge winery is definitely a place I’ll be back to visit. I love that they don’t produce the same wines every vintage and that there is always something unique to experience.
If you are ever visiting Sonoma wine country, be sure to Pin this article and add Paradise Ridge to your list of places to go during your stay! Ask for Stacey, she really knows her wines!