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Walter Byck – President / Founder
Walter Byck was born in Newark, New Jersey. Excelling in all levels of his studies, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School top of his class. As radiology resident at Cornell Medical Center in New York City, Walter met his future wife, the beautiful Marijke Hoenselaars. Upon completing his residency, he requested to be stationed in Europe close to the Dutch border and Marijke. Walter proposed after a walk through the sculpture grove at the Kroller-Muller Museum, and Marijke & Walter were wed in Nijmegen, Holland in 1961. Four years later, when Walter joined a small but growing medical group, Redwood Radiology, the young couple moved to Santa Rosa. Walter discovered Paradise in 1977, but it wasn’t until May of 1994 that Marijke & Walter opened Paradise Ridge Winery. The first sculpture exhibit in the new Paradise Woods Sculpture Grove opened within a year, and, upon retiring from medicine in 1997, Walter turned his attention towards building the reputation of his growing sculpture project. In 2004, Walter was recognized for his outstanding efforts in the art community, bringing together numerous art organizations and spearheading a countywide art project known as Sculpture Sonoma. In honor of this major accomplishment, Walter was chosen as ‘Man of the Year’ by the Bohemian. Walter’s most recent work is creating the ‘Field of Dreams’ amphitheatre, where Transcendence Theatre Company in summer 2014 performed ”Broadway Under the Stars,” as the first of many live performances to be celebrated at Paradise Ridge. With a passion for many things, including travel, cosmology, photography, art & wine, Walter is most passionate about his family, especially his 13 grandchildren.
Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars (1933-2006) – Founder
Born in Nijmegen Holland in 1933, Marijke Hoenselaars was the second of six children. She grew up during World War II and her earliest memories include joining her parents in opening their home to nine families who had lost their own homes. Always a hard worker and wonderful student, Marijke was chosen to go to America to study nursing in New York City, where she met her future husband Walter Byck. The couple moved to Santa Rosa in 1965 and purchased the Paradise Ranch in 1978. Their five children were raised mostly on the 156-acre property. Taking advantage of the beautiful site in the hills on the edge of Santa Rosa, Marijke and her family opened Paradise Ridge Winery in 1994. Marijke was a natural leader and for 12 years she was CEO of the winery. Tragically Marijke was killed in a car accident in January 2006. Her legacy is marked by her tireless efforts, frequently performed anonymously, on behalf of the less fortunate in Sonoma County. From delivering food packages and holiday gifts for children of low-income families, to serving as a Board Member, benefactor, and leader with numerous local nonprofit groups, her helping hand and personal involvement were the hallmark of her style. Marijke’s compassion led to her participation in the Sonoma Task Force for the Homeless, the National Women’s History Project, Catholic Charities, The Children’s Village of Sonoma County, UNICEF, as well as many others. She also cared deeply about global peace issues, and her activism reflected these broader concerns as well. Her service to the less fortunate went beyond compassion. Whenever she went out to dinner, she boxed what she had left and did not go home till she found a hungry recipient. The spirit of Paradise Ridge Winery’s founder and leader continues to inspire us everyday.
Rene Byck – Vice President / Co-Owner
Born and raised in Santa Rosa, Rene graduated from Cardinal Newman High School in 1985. He then attended California State University at Sacramento and received a B.S. in Criminal Justice in 1990. After graduation, Rene traveled through Europe, Turkey, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Nepal, and South East Asia. His favorite countries were Nepal and Thailand. When he returned, Rene started working for a Private Investigative firm in San Francisco. In 1994, he joined his parents and Sonia in the plans to create a winery and event center on their Santa Rosa ranch. Rene spent the early years in the tasting room, working events and doing the bookkeeping. In 1997, Rene attended the McClaren School of Business at the University of San Francisco, where he received his MBA in 2000. Shortly thereafter, while employed with an internet company, he realized that his heart was at Paradise Ridge so it was here that he put his newfound education to work. Rene was married in 2007, and he and his wife Holly have three children, Adianka Marijke, Brycen Russell, & Alexia Rae.
Sonia Byck-Barwick – Vice-President / Co-Owner
Growing up in Santa Rosa, Sonia is the youngest of the five Byck children. She attended Ursuline High School and California State University at Sacramento. After graduation, Sonia toured the United States followed by more adventures around Australia & South East Asia. Upon her return Sonia chose a position in management at the four-star Madrona Manor Inn in Healdsburg, California. With experience under her belt, Sonia began working for Paradise Ridge in January of 1994, marketing and promoting the winery prior to its opening in May of that year. From 1994 to 1995, Sonia enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley extension and received her certificate in Hospitality Management. While taking wine courses at the Santa Rosa Junior College, she met her future husband Dan Barwick, and together they began planning a world wine tour. Upon their return in 1998, Sonia took a position in Marketing for Blackstone Winery. She soon was promoted to Marketing Director and during her tenure production grew from 160,000 cases to 600,000. The successful winery was sold in 2001. In 2002, after the birth of her daughter, Sonia returned to Paradise Ridge. Having overseen many different areas of the winery, Sonia now manages the event department, as well as general winery management. Still traveling when given the chance, Sonia and Dan live in Healdsburg where they can enjoy a wine country lifestyle with their two children, Sophia and Jonathan.
Dan Barwick – Winemaker
Dan Barwick was born in Dover, England. Since the age of 16, Dan has worked in the food and beverage industry. From 1978 thru 1987, he worked as a manager in the famous ‘Harrods Food Halls’ in Knightsbridge London, where he also got his first taste of fine wine. During his time at Harrods, Dan completed a two-year University extension course for retail management. The following year he helped set up a national chain called ‘Prêt a Manger’. Dan moved to Sonoma County and worked his first harvest in 1991 at Matanzas Creek Winery, where his passion for wine exploded. From 1992 to 1995, Dan worked in the cellar at Ferrari- Carano Vineyards & Winery, while completing several wine and viticulture courses. It was in one of these courses he met his future bride, Sonia Byck. Sonia & Dan married in 1995 and the following year, the newlyweds began a two-year journey throughout the world visiting and working at different wineries and cellars. Their adventures included harvests in France, South Africa and the Barossa Valley, Australia. In 1998, they returned home and Dan took on the duties of winemaker for Paradise Ridge Winery. Dan is a judge for numerous wine competitions and moonlights as a wine educator at the Santa Rosa Junior College. In his spare time, Dan enjoys cooking (especially Pizzas), gardening, wine & food tasting and pairing, home improvements, and studying the wine industry. He also loves spending time and traveling with his daughter Sophia and son Jonathan.
Tony Dimsho – Production Manager
Tony was born and raised in Southern California, but, after moving to Santa Rosa in 2009, has quickly grown to love Sonoma County as his new home. He cultivated a love for the sciences and laboratories as he prepared for medical school and graduated UC Irvine with a BS in Biological Sciences. It was, however, during his time as a banking center operations manager that Tony grew fascinated by the complexities of wine. Deciding to leave banking behind in 2008, after an internship at Chateau St. Jean, he worked for a very small winery in Windsor before starting as a part-time lab assistant at Paradise Ridge. Since that time, Tony has taken on the role of Production Manager and now works with several winemakers to facilitate operations at the Nagasawa Wbuilding. Tony and his wife Kelly were married at Paradise Ridge in February of 2013, and their first child, Andrew was born in March, 2015.
Eugenio Villasenor – Vineyard Manager
Eugenio ‘Gene’ Villasenor was born in Michoacán, Mexico. From an early age, Gene was loved working with the land, specifically growing mangos and corn on his family’s small farm. In 2002. Gene had his first vineyard experience with the internationally acclaimed Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in the Russian River Valley, where his passion for growing grapes was born. During his tenure at Sonoma-Cutrer, Gene was awarded ‘Employee of the Year,’ and had the astonishing record of not missing a day’s work in over five years! Gene joined the Vineyard and Winemaking Team at Paradise Ridge in 2009. Gene’s passion, dedication to detail, and commitment to quality resulted in his promotion to vineyard manager and overseeing 15 acres of estate grapes. Gene’s thirst for knowledge and advancement naturally brought him into the cellar at Paradise Ridge, where he continues to develop his depth of knowledge in ‘Growing Great Wines in the Vineyard.’ In his occasional spare time, Gene enjoys mountain biking in the hills of Sonoma County, jet skiing, going to concerts and developing his palate for food and wine.
Denise Stuart – Manager, CTA Certified Tourism Ambassador
Denise moved to Sonoma County as a young child and has developed strong roots in this gorgeous and bountiful region. She is a graduate of Sonoma State University with a BS Degree in Business Administration. Following graduation, Denise worked in the healthcare and personnel industries but grew restless. Almost two decades ago, she discovered the beauty of Paradise Ridge and began working as an Event Server. Her love for the wine industry and hospitality blossomed and she has had many positions at the winery including Event Consultant, Tasting Room Manager, Wine Club Coordinator and she currently oversees the Wine Club and Direct to Consumer Sales. Denise has a true appreciation & love for Sonoma County, and, in particular, Paradise Ridge. When not at Paradise Ridge, Denise enjoys the activities and adventures our incredible area offers. She is an avid hiker, home chef and loves spending time with her son Hunter and daughter Annie.
Martha Marquez – Wedding & Events Manager
Martha is originally from the Napa Valley, but loves her new home ‘over the hill’ in beautiful Sonoma County. She has been working in the hospitality industry for over 20 years managing world-class wineries & hotels. Her ultimate goal is to make sure each wedding or celebration or wedding is one that the guests will always remember. Martha has helped plan and execute more than 400 weddings & special events. The highlight of her career at Paradise Ridge was attending the autumn wedding of her own son as a guest. She prides herself on her exemplary customer service skills, upbeat personality, and making sure each guest receives the special attention they deserve. When Martha is not in Paradise, she is off with her husband Fernando visiting his family in Spain or traveling to another far off place. She believes, “In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities.” – Janos Arany
Annette McDonnell – Kenwood Tasting Room Manager & Culinary Specialist
Annette has been a resident of Sonoma County for most of her life. In 1992, her father opened the Sebastopol Antique Mall where she ran the restaurant and wine bar. In 1996, Annette embraced the opportunity to work under talented Sonoma County Chef Bruce Riezenman at Park Avenue Catering. A few years later, she accepted a position working in catering for the highly acclaimed Cafe Lolo, as Lead Captain & Site Chef. Annette joined the Paradise Ridge Winery team in 2008, giving her the opportunity to showcase her devotion to exceptional food, wine, and hospitality. Sharing her love for this bountiful area daily, Annette has found her home in Paradise. When she is not graciously entertaining in Kenwood, Annette loves to cook, garden, and go RV-ing with her three children and husband Dan. Within her past seven years with Paradise Ridge Winery, Annette’s passion for food & wine came together with her discovery to educate wine pairing though a concept of utilizing a unique sensory herb Garden.
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- Four times each year, members receive a superb shipment of preselected wines.
- Receive a personal invitation to our annual MEMBERS ONLY party.
- First option on our limited release wines.
- and much more!
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Russian River Valley Estate
Santa Rosa, California 95403