Paradise . . . . Ridge

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While researching the ‘must see’ things to do for this trip, I came across the Paradise Ridge Winery. Every Wednesday evening, they host ‘Wines & Sunsets’. Paradise Ridge is just south of Healdsburg which was perfect because we all wanted to go back and do some more exploring there. We were also kind of tired from a couple of long days traversing the countryside, so the decision was made to stay close to Healdsburg. After researching a bit, we decided our schedule for the day would be Jack London State Park, exploring Healdsburg then ending the day at Paradise Ridge. The ‘battle plan’ is fixed – ready, set, go!

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Our first stop was Jack London State Park which was chosen because my wife wanted to get in some walking. There are several miles of trails inside the park and it was on the way to Healdsburg. This was one of those pleasant surprises we had not planned for ahead of time. There is a museum in his original home at the site. I’ve read Jack London’s books but I had no idea who the man was behind the writing. He was quite the adventurer. We spent way more time than we anticipated here because of all the things to learn and see. This was an absolute treat and would highly recommend it if you are ever in the area.

We finally head to Healdsburg. Since we stayed later than planned at the park and did a good bit of walking we were getting a bit hungry. For some reason, we decided on Mexican and found a little place just off the square called El Sombrero. The food was very authentic and very good. There is Mexican food and there is REAL Mexican food. This was the real thing. We don’t have place that comes remotely close to matching this at home. Now that we’ve got something on our stomach’s it’s time for a wine tasting. That is, after all, the entire purpose of this trip.

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The first wine tasting for today was Banshee Wines. These wines had been recommended to us by some good friends that had visited here a about two years ago. We share similar tastes in wine, so we usually trust their recommendations. The Banshee tasting room is in downtown Healdsburg. The tasting room has that laid-back California style. We felt very comfortable there. The wines did not disappoint, as we bought several bottles to send home. The 2014 Mordecai Proprietary Red was by far my favorite. I was very tempted to join the wine club and may still do so later. It was hard to leave as we were enjoying Banshee very much. But there were more wines to be sampled this day. Tasting notes:

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Next up, Rodney Strong Vineyards. My good friend Rick is fond of their wines. He expressed an interest in visiting their tasting room, so that’s what we did. Since Rodney Strong is on the outskirts of Healdsburg, a visit here was in line with our plan for the day. Rodney Strong is a high production winery and I consider most of their offerings ‘wine for the masses’. Rodney Strong wines are good consistent wines, but not a label I reach for very often. This tasting did nothing to change that opinion. Our pouring hostess was pleasant, friendly and very young. When I go to a tasting, other than simply tasting wine, I also hope to learn something I didn’t know before. That didn’t happen here. But I got to sample six nice, well-crafted wines. Tasting notes:

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After the Rodney Strong visit we headed to Paradise Ridge for their Wine & Sunsets event. The winery sits atop a high hill just outside of Santa Rosa. The large patio looks to the west and has a sweeping view of the valleys and mountains toward the sea. Unfortunately for us there was no sunset to be seen, as this was the only day of our entire trip that was overcast and rainy. But our spirits were not dampened because there was still wine to be had. You can bring your own food in and picnic or there is service from one of the local food trucks. We enjoyed our wine, BBQ sandwich from the food truck, live music from a local band while taking in the majestic vista.

All of this was great but the evening continued to get better. As it turns out this is really kind of a locals happening. Everybody seemed to kind of know each other. We did not feel out of place though. These local folks welcomed us with open arms. We sat next to a group of three couples that were just a few years older than us. We had easy and fun conversation with them like we’ve known each other for years. They gave us some great tips on wineries that we needed to visit. Sadly, it was time to go and there were handshakes and hugs all around with our new-found friends. Oh, and they also serve wine. The wines were average at best but the evening was a ‘ten’. Tasting notes.

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