Paradigm Winery produces handcrafted wines from their estate vineyard in the heart of the Napa Valley Oakville appellation.
Owners Ren and Marilyn Harris are two vine growers with extraordinarily deep roots in Napa Valley. Marilyn's grandparents emigrated from Italy to Napa Valley in 1890 while Ren's family came to California in 1769. Marilyn and Ren moved to Napa Valley in the 1960's and settled into their home just east of where Paradigm sits today. Through a career in vineyard real estate, Ren learned much about the diverse growing regions in Napa Valley. When they decided to purchase vineyards of their own, Oakville was the clear choice. Ren and Marilyn purchased the property in 1975. The winery was founded several years later and began producing wine with the 1991 vintage. Since that first vintage, renowned winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett has made the wines.
In 1975, the property was planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, and Riesling, all commonly grown in Napa Valley at that time. The Harris' quickly confirmed that the soil and microclimate were perfectly tuned for growing the red Bordeaux varieties, which inspired their passion for wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel replaced the original vines; Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were added a bit later. Today, Paradigm consists of four contiguous parcels totaling fifty-five acres. Paradigm is a self-contained estate that includes fifty acres of vines, a winery, two homes, a warehouse, a barn, and an acre of olive trees.
With an incredibly loyal team (read Ren’s quote below), Paradigm preserves the small, family-owned style of winery that Napa Valley was built on. It maintains a hands-on approach to all vineyard and winemaking operations; nothing is outsourced. Every bottle you uncork was grown, crushed, fermented, barrel aged, bottled and stored on site.
Ren and Marilyn are tireless advocates for the Oakville appellation, eco-friendly farming, and environmental stewardship. Vines are hand pruned and harvested. No herbicides are used. Mildew is prevented by using natural sulfur dust and other sustainable fungicides. Natural predators control invasive insects, and all vine prunings are chipped, returning them back to the vineyard for nourishment. Paradigm also donates to 1% for the planet.
The estate’s annual production is around 6,000 cases. About 30% percent of the grape production goes into Paradigm bottles. The balance is sold to other premium Napa Valley wineries (their neighbors include Harlan, Dominus, Martha’s Vineyard, Far Niente and Opus). Regardless of the variety, the wines are a rich expression of the vineyard farmed now for 40+ years. The wines are consistent and age worthy. Full of red and black fruit, they are known for their balance and for their ability to compliment a meal. All of the wines are aged in French oak barrels for 20 months. Each of the wines also sees considerable bottle aging—20 months for the Cabernet Sauvignon and 14 months for the other reds.
Heidi Peterson Barrett has been winemaker at Paradigm since its first vintage in 1991. A Napa Valley native and a graduate of U. C. Davis, Heidi is the winemaker for some of Napa Valley's most highly-regarded wineries. She has been honored with five 100-point scores from the major critics during her career. Heidi's philosophy in making wines for Paradigm is simple: she feels that she is working with an extraordinary vineyard site that has been farmed impeccably for years. She lets the fruit from this vineyard express its quality and unique terroir with minimal intervention.
Ren Harris: "Success in life is built upon the shoulders of others. Marilyn and I have been fortunate over the years in our ability to find and keep a staff of exceptional folks. Fernando Diaz, our vineyard manager, has been with us since 1992. Pedro Martinez, our cellar master, has been at Paradigm since 1992 as well. Brothers Antonio and Armando Hernandez started with us in 1996. Antonio Santana and Jose Reyes, who have been here for over ten years, round out the vineyard crew. Mark, the general manager, has been on board for over eight years; while MaryAnn and Peter have been with us four and three years respectively. Our only new person is Lara, our national sales manager, who started in April of 2018; Lara had sold our wine in Napa County for our California broker for eight years, however, before coming on board full time. My youngest brother Greg runs the tasting room on weekends – thus rounds out the gang that Marilyn and I depend upon."
Grape Collective: Heidi Peterson Barrett, Maker of Cult Wines
Grape Collective: California's Trailblazing Women Winemakers: The First 20 Years (1965 through 1984)
Into Wine: Heidi Peterson Barrett - Napa's Wine Diva on Winemaking, La Sirena, and the Legacy of Screaming Eagle