Sonoma ValleyTasting Experiences

Tasting at Paradise Ridge

Winery: Paradise Ridge

Ownership: Founded by Walter and Marijke Byck. It is still privately owned and operated by the family. Walter and Marijke’s children, Rene and Sonia, are now at the helm of the winery and the third generation of Bycks are beginning to take on roles.

Winemaker: Dan Barwick is the winemaker and is married to Sonia Byck. The couple married in 1995 and spent two years traveling the world visiting and working at different wineries and cellars in France, South Africa and the Barossa Valley, Australia. In 1998, they returned to CA and Dan became the winemaker for Paradise Ridge.

Location: Their estate is located on the eastern edge of the Russian River AVA where they offer tastings, do events and accommodate private groups, including weddings. They have another tasting room located in Kenwood, CA. We tasted at both locations on different days.

Types of Wines: They focus mainly on Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They also do small lots of sparkling wines and proprietary blends. They have some estate Russian River AVA fruit and also purchase fruit from the Rockpile AVA.

Wine Price Range: $28 to $150

Production Size/Distribution: They produce about 7000 cases annually. About 90% of sales are direct-to-consumer through their tasting rooms and to their club and about 10% is through distribution channels.

Tasting Experience Options: Their Kenwood tasting room and estate offer walk-in tasting as well as appointments. Their hours are 11am to 4:30pm daily (last tasting at 4pm). Their tasting fee for groups of 6 or fewer tasters is $15.00 per person and they waive that with at least a two bottle purchase.

At the estate, they offer a wine and cheese pairing tasting by appointment for $25 per person. For groups of six or more, they offer private tastings with a reservation for $25 per person. They also offer a self-guided vineyard tour with tasting for $25 and guided vineyard tours/tastings for $30 per person.

At the Kenwood tasting room, they also offer walk-in tastings and private group tastings of 6 or more people with reservation. Pricing is the same as at the estate. Throughout the year they offer a wine and chocolate pairing and when in season, they do a outdoor garden herb and wine sensory pairing.

Tasting Experience Rating: We did tastings at both the tasting room in Kenwood and at the estate. We rate the overall experience at the Kenwood tasting room at 90 points and the estate experience at 78 points*. At the estate, we were tasting with one of their club members who had made a reservation, so expectations were high. Unfortunately, they were part of a wine tasting event among a group of wineries, so we felt a bit ignored. We have hopes that on a non-event day the service would have been better. At the Kenwood location we did not have a reservation.

Wine Rating: 84-90 points* for the wines we tasted. We had some of the same wines at each tasting but also had several different wines we did not taste at the other location. They are well-made wines, but not a style that we are particularly taken with (many people will be).

The Good: They have a wonderful family story to tell about an American marrying a Dutch woman and coming to CA and raising their family on the estate. They have very focused views of sustainable farming and working with other vineyards that are sustainably farmed. The estate property is beautiful and the perfect place for weddings and other private events. Both locations offer indoor and outdoor tasting spaces. The Kenwood tasting room is also an art gallery and the Santa Rosa estate location has a sculpture garden with four permanent pieces and a rotating collection of other sculptures. Our tasting associate at the Kenwood location, Serena was wonderful: knowledgeable, friendly and outgoing. She gave us a lot of information and was very attentive. Our favorite wine was a Petite Verdot, which is a small production wine for them. Even though they are relatively small in production size, they have a wide range of types of wines to appeal to everyone.

The Bad: We don’t have anything specific on the bad side for the Kenwood tasting room. For the estate, our biggest disappointment was the service. As mentioned before, we were there with a wine club member who had made an appointment for us. We had a table reserved and a young woman started our tasting, but after the second wine, she went behind the tasting bar and never came back. After waiting about 15 minutes after finishing our wine for her to come back, the member we were with took our glasses to the bar to get the next wine in the flight. Again, we finished that wine and waited another 15 to 20 minutes, at which time I went to the bar and asked for someone to bring us the next wine. Another woman came to bring the last of our wines and she was wonderful. She offered to let us barrel taste after which was part of the event going on. She saw that we were disappointed at the service and went out of her way to help us enjoy the rest of our time there. The event was also not a crowded one. It was a rainy day during the week and the event was mainly in an area downstairs from the area we were in, so there isn’t much excuse for that. We think the first associate just forgot about us.

*Ratings are on a 100 point scale.

90 to 100 points=Outstanding
80 to 89 points=Good
70 to 79 points=OK (not good but not bad)
60 to 69 points=Wish we had gone elsewhere.
Below 60 points=Run fast in the other direction.