Nestled in Napa Valley’s Oakville AVA, Paradigm Winery is a true gem, where every sip of their wonderful wines unveils a story.
A family-owned and operated winery, Paradigm Winery is renowned for its rich history, an exceptional terroir, and passion for crafting wines that embody the essence of the region.
Let’s embark on a journey to explore the stories behind the success of this esteemed winery and how my recent tasting experience at the winery has made Paradigm one of my favorite wineries to visit.
A Brief History of Paradigm Winery
The legacy of Paradigm Winery extends far beyond its first vintage in 1991. The winery’s founders, Ren and Marilyn Harris, hail from a long line of farmers with deep roots in California.
Marilyn’s grandparents immigrated to the renowned Napa Valley from Italy in 1890 where they have a deep history of owning property and growing grapes, while Ren’s family has been an integral part of the state’s history beginning in San Diego in 1769.
Their rich family histories are woven into the fabric of Paradigm Winery, making it a testament to the enduring spirit of California’s winemaking heritage.
In the late 60’s, Ren and Marilyn Harris sold their home in San Francisco and made the pivotal decision to acquire a sprawling piece of land in Oakville just south of the Oakville grade. This lush expanse was originally home to an impressive array of plumb trees, which the couple planned to cultivate.
Ren’s shrewd business acumen served him well, as he teamed up with Jean Phillips to sell vineyard real estate, earning enough to fund the purchase of his own land and eventual winery. Meanwhile, Marilyn excelled in her role as head of sales and hospitality at Clos Du Val.
Together they make the perfect team which is why the winery sells out most of its wines every year.
After a time, they decided to replace the fruit trees with wine grapes but opted not to produce their own wine. Instead, the grapes were grown and sold to other wineries, marking the beginning of an exciting chapter in their winemaking journey.
Paradigm sits on 50 acres of estate vineyards and developed a diverse portfolio of wines that showcase the unique characteristics of the region. Their dedication to excellence and commitment to sustainable practices has earned them a loyal following among wine enthusiasts and critics alike.
The Vineyards and Terroir
Paradigm sits on 50 acres of estate vineyards and has developed a diverse portfolio of wines that showcase the unique characteristics of the region. Their dedication to excellence and commitment to sustainable practices has earned them a loyal following among wine enthusiasts and critics alike.
Paradigm Winery’s sprawling estate vineyards encompass an impressive 50 acres of the illustrious Oakville appellation in Napa Valley. This region is renowned worldwide for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, and Paradigm Winery’s vineyards are no exception.
The land boasts an impressive array of grape varietals, with 38 acres devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 acres to Merlot, 2 acres to Cabernet Franc, 1.5 acres to Zinfandel, and a final acre dedicated to Petite Verdot.
Every aspect of the vineyards is tended to with unwavering care and precision by a dedicated farming crew that works year-round and knows how to grow grapes.
The vineyard crew’s personal investment and familiarity with the property is truly remarkable, allowing them to meticulously tend to every detail and ensure that the vineyards always produce the highest quality grapes.
Listen to my interview with Mary Ann Turrentine – Director of Sales and Hospitality at Paradigm Winery
The Unique Terroir of Oakville
Paradigm is located on the valley floor on the western end of Napa Valley where the terroir is characterized by well-draining alluvial soils and a diverse microclimate.
These factors, combined with the expertise of the winemaking team, contribute to the production of wines with exceptional depth, balance, taste, and complexity.
The Paradigm Wine Portfolio
Let’s take a look at some Paradigm wines.
Paradigm Winery’s flagship wine, the Cabernet Sauvignon, is a true testament to the Oakville terroir. It showcases remarkable depth and structure, with a dark ruby color, layers of dark fruit, spice, and earthy undertones.
I was impressed with the well-integrated tannins which make me think this wine is perfect for long-term aging. The meticulous attention to detail in the vineyards and winemaking process includes aging over 20 months in new French Oak barrels and another 20 – 22 months in bottle before release. This results in a wine that is both powerful and elegant, with a long, lingering finish.
After the Cabernet, the Merlot is their second biggest production. Paradigm Merlot is a beautifully crafted wine that is perfectly balanced, displays rich, velvety tannins and a luscious mouthfeel. With flavors of ripe blackberry, black cherry, and hints of cocoa, this wine is a delightful expression of the varietal and terroir. The Merlot is made of a beautiful combination of 90% merlot and 10% cabernet sauvignon.
Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite varietals and Paradigm’s small production Cabernet Franc (400 cases per year) is special.
The Cabernet Franc is a complex and intriguing wine that offers aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, and subtle notes of herbs and spices. On the palate, the wine is well-structured with a silky texture and a refined, persistent finish.
Pairavines is a unique red blend that Paradigm started in 2012 and is only available to wine club members. This small-production wine (100 cases per year) is a beautiful blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Petite Verdot.
With a flavor profile that includes lots of dark fruit like blackberry, plum, and black cherry, and aromas of red cherry, vanilla and a hint of oak, this wine is a delight.
Rose of Merlot
Finally, Paradigm makes a delicious rose made from its estate Merlot. Unlike many wineries in the area, Paradigm does not make a Chardonnay in fact, they don’t make white wine at all but this Rose is their “white wine”.
The Rose of Merlot is made from 10.5 rows in the Merlot vineyards, spends very little time on skins, and is fermented slowly over 40 days with a special champagne yeast.
This rose is bright, and refreshing, and has become a favorite of guests since its initial vintage in 2009.
The Winemaking Process
Harvesting and Fermentation
The winemaking journey at Paradigm Winery begins with the careful hand harvesting of grapes at optimal ripeness. The grapes are then gently crushed and fermented using traditional techniques.
Paradigm’s winemaking approach is to let the fruit speak for itself with very little winemaker intervention which is why they don’t rely on a lot of the technology that many wineries in the valley use these days. This gentle approach to winemaking is perfect for extracting the most desirable flavors, colors, and tannins from the fruit.
Aging and Bottling
Following fermentation, the wines are aged in carefully selected French oak barrels to impart additional layers of flavor and complexity. The aging process is fairly uniform across the portfolio where most wines spend between 20 to 22 months in French oak and another 14 months in bottles before they are released to the public.
Only the Zinfandel sees some American Oak which gives it some of its great characters.
My Unforgettable wine tasting experience at Paradigm Winery
My wife and I have purchased Paradigm wine in the past and were impressed with the quality and value that these wines provide but we had not visited the winery before so we decided to go for a tasting.
I want everyone to know that my wife and I had the most incredible wine-tasting experience at Paradigm Winery! As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with a warm welcome at our car by Mary Ann Turrentine, the director of sales and hospitality and a lovely woman.
Due to the size of the winery, Mary Ann is very much involved in day-to-day operations including driving forklifts and working in the cellar when needed during harvest.
Mary Ann escorted us to the cellar where they were hosting some industry people that we got to talk to for a few minutes. We had a tour of the beautiful cellar and took pictures in the barrel room, which was fascinating.
During the tour, we had the chance to talk to one of the employees in the cellar about the arduous process of becoming Certified Organic in their vineyard farming practices which is very important to them. We found their commitment to taking care of the land very interesting as we could hear the passion in this employee’s voice which got us excited.
We then made our way to the outdoor tasting area where they have a single table used to entertain only three groups of guests per day. The table is perfectly placed overlooking the expansive vineyards and an amazing view of the Mayacamas mountains.
The table was nicely decorated with a tasting menu, water, bread, and olive oil made on the property. Mary Ann then took us on a tasting journey of the Zinfandel, which was absolutely delicious. The Zinfandel was fresh, fruity, and had a peppery finish that I really like in Zinfandel.
To our surprise, Ren Harris, the owner of the winery, joined us at the table with a glass of wine and talked to us for over an hour about the history of Napa Valley. We had samples of their recently released 2019 cabernet sauvignon while Ren shared fascinating stories about the start of the Napa Valley Grape Growers and his work for the betterment of farm workers including making sure they had a reliable health plan.
Ren then walked us through his life in Napa Valley, his experience selling vineyard properties with Jean Peterson, his friendship with Andy Beckstoffer, and his dealings with Robert Mondavi. Ren also talked about his passion for Oakville, the financial advantages of making wine from estate vineyards that he owns, and his opinions on the trend in Napa Valley of big companies coming in and buying some of the most historic places in the Valley.
As someone who loves the history of wine and Napa Valley, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sitting down for over an hour with the owner of a winery who has seen and done it all is unheard of in our experience. I remember commenting to Ren and Mary Anne that if they wanted to charge $500 for this experience, I would have happily paid for it.
As we tasted through library wines of both Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, and cabernet sauvignon, we talked about the Coravin wine preservation system and of course discussed how Heidi Barrett became their young and talented winemaker and has been with them since Paradigm began producing wine.
Ren was so complimentary of his staff and what they mean to him and Marilyn which was heartwarming to hear.
The tasting experience finished with a tasting of a great wine called Pairavines, a bend of 50% Merlot and 50% Petite Verdo, which was the perfect way to end the experience.
We even had the chance to take a picture with Ren, which was a fantastic way to remember the experience. Overall, the wine-tasting experience at Paradigm Winery was truly unforgettable, and I cannot wait to return and try some more of their delicious wines!
In fact, the experience was so incredible and the wines were such an incredible value that we signed up for the wine club! My wife and I knew that we wanted to make another trip with our friends and family and experience it all over again. The wine club would allow us to do just that. The experience was like nothing we have ever had before, and we cannot wait to return to Paradigm Winery!
Paradigm Winery is more than just a winery; it’s a place where every sip tells a story. From the rich history and exceptional terroir to the diverse portfolio of wines and the passionate people behind it, Paradigm Winery offers a truly unique and memorable experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable wine-tasting adventure that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the art of winemaking and the stories behind the bottle, look no further than Paradigm Winery.
Whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or simply a lover of life’s finer pleasures, Paradigm Winery is sure to captivate your senses and leave you yearning for more.
So raise your glass and toast to the timeless allure of Napa Valley and the extraordinary winery that is Paradigm. Cheers to the stories, the passion, and the unforgettable moments that await you at Paradigm Winery.
Paradigm Winery FAQ
Who owns Paradigm Wine?
Paradigm winery is family owned by vintners Ren and Marilyn Harris.
Does Paradigm Winery make Pinot Noir?
No, Paradigm’s portfolio consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Paravines (red blend), and the Rose of Merlot.
How can I visit Paradigm Winery for a tasting or tour?
Paradigm Winery welcomes visitors for tastings and tours by appointment only. To schedule your visit, please contact them through their website or call the tasting room at (707) 944-1683.