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Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

Fountaingrove’s iconic Paradise Ridge Winery still bears scars from October’s firestorm, but the spirit of hope and resilience was palpable Saturday morning in the area called the Love Meadow.

A small crowd gathered under intricate shadows cast by the Temple of Remembrance, one of the winery’s varied sculptures that went unscathed as the Tubbs fire ruined many of the 155-acre ranch’s fixtures. The ceremony celebrating the reopening of the 3-acre sculpture garden, including the two-story-tall LOVE sign, marked a new chapter for the venerable business, opened in 1994.

“I’ve been given a lot of condolences for all the things we’ve lost — every building except for the two that I built in the last couple years around the tennis court are gone, but none of the art,” founder Walter Byck said. “That says something if you believe in spiritualism: that somebody was protecting the important things. The rest of it we can rebuild, and we will.”

While the devastating wildfires largely spared most area wineries, Paradise Ridge took a direct hit. Three homes, a winemaking building, a tasting and events center and several outbuildings burned to the ground, and their charred remains are still standing.

The estate vineyards survived and most wines were stored off the property.

Judy Voigt, whose Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation provides art for the winery, said Saturday was a celebration of art and healing.

“We’re gathered here in community and solidarity — our love of art and one another binds us,” she said through tears.

“This is a bond that won’t break. Strong bonds are forged through difficult experiences. We dedicated the Temple of Remembrance almost five years ago to those we’ve lost. We’ve all lost a lot this year, but in that loss, we have also gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for one another.”

For Erick Dunn, an artist who lost two decades of work when his rented Kenwood home burned in October, the event was cathartic. Dunn and his wife, Claudia Meglin, mourned the loss of the first home they’d lived in after getting married, but they’ve received tireless support from their community, he said.

“Seeing art that’s survived the fire really means so much,” Meglin said. “It’s hard to put this in words: so much has changed in our lives and in the neighborhoods. There are things you lost and there’s so much more you gain.”

Ake and Leslie Grunditz, members of Oakland-based Five Ton Crane artist collective, both worked on Storied Haven, a piece placed in recent weeks at the winery. The roughly 40-foot-tall boot is filled with fairy-tale elements, including a Rapunzelesque braid in its second-story window.

On Saturday morning, the couple from Alameda hung a strip of fabric on Petaluma artist David Best’s Temple of Remembrance to honor lost loved ones before kissing under the collection of other colorful fabrics swaying in a lazy breeze. Ake Grunditz also has a piece in a recently established art trail at the winery that features creations from fire-scarred trees.

“It’s a gift to us to find a place to be able to remember,” Leslie Grunditz said.

The Marijke’s Grove sculpture garden will reopen to the public on weekends, starting today, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Oct. 28.

It’s the first of many steps to revive the property, where a massive debris cleanup was completed in April, co-owner Sonia Byck-Barwick said.

Beginning Saturday, al fresco tastings in a private part of the property will be held on weekends for the 1,500 members of the Paradise Ridge wine club, she said. Public wine tastings and tours could start in October.

Permits to rebuild a two-story tasting room within the footprint of the destroyed building are expected to be issued by Aug. 27, with the yearlong construction process kicking off in September, Byck-Barwick said.

The $5 million building will be reminiscent of the former stucco structure, but with new features, such as extended tile decks upstairs and fire-resistant materials, she said. It’s expected to open in September 2019.

“(The architects) feel really strongly that people related to the building, so they want people to be able to recognize it when they come back,” Byck-Barwick said. “It’ll be all new but it’ll be enough to recognize what was there before. You have that tie-in with our close to 25 years of being here.”

The property was once a mecca for weddings, with about 60 annual bookings, co-owner Rene Byck said. About 30 brides received refunds after the fire, losses that he hopes to recoup after the tasting room opens.

The property was under-insured and the family is only receiving $5.4 million for building losses, Byck-Barwick said. That makes the estimated $5 million cost rebuilding the winemaking facility out of reach for now, and their wines will be made at the Flanagan Wines facility in Healdsburg, she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Hannah Beausang at 707-521-5214 or hannah.beausang@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @hannahbeausang.

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