Carolyn PrideBack to The Pride Family
When Carolyn and her husband Jim started looking for wine country property in 1989, her main criterion was that it had pine trees on it. "Jim loved the ocean, I loved Lake Tahoe, and we both loved the California hills covered in oaks. We looked at some great properties but nothing seemed quite right. Then we saw the old Summit Ranch and it just clicked." Both Carolyn and Jim come from long-time California farming families, so the idea of farming a vineyard in their retirement was not as daunting as might be for some. After refurbishing the vineyards, the first vintage of Pride Mountain Vineyards' wines came off the vines in 1991 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Carolyn was born and raised in the Sacramento Valley. She grew up on horseback, working her father's cattle ranch as well as showing at horse shows. Carolyn and Jim met when they were sophomores at Chico High School, with Carolyn later graduating from the University of California at Berkeley. About those years she says, "I found it amazing that I could be working cattle one weekend and the next weekend I could be at a fraternity dance at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. It was truly the best of both worlds." Carolyn and Jim married after graduation and moved to Chicago while Jim was in dental school. It was there that daughter Suzanne was born, followed several years later by son Steven in Spokane, Washington where Jim served as a dentist at Fairchild Air Force Base. Soon after, Carolyn and Jim moved the family back home to the Sacramento Valley and the small town of Williams where Jim was the town's dentist and where they farmed walnuts, in addition to Carolyn's own ranch which grew tomatoes, sugar beets, melons and rice.
In 1969, the family relocated to Marin County, when Jim became the Assistant Dean at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco. Additionally, Carolyn and Jim owned an antiquarian book store in the East Bay which Carolyn managed, after the kids left for college.
Pride Mountain Vineyards became the center of Carolyn's world as she built the winery from scratch with a skeletal crew, while Jim traveled extensively and headed his other company, Pride Institute, the dental practice management organization. Sadly, Jim passed away in 2004 after a long illness leaving a void that was difficult to fill. True to form however, Carolyn persevered with her business responsibilities and today, finally enjoys the retirement that was put on hold in the early years of the winery. She travels, spends extensive time with her children, their spouses and her four grandchildren, and graces the winery with her presence every day. Affectionately known as "Ranch Mama," her dedication to excellence is respected by all who know her. "I never dreamed my life would take this turn...we have worked so hard and we have been so blessed," she says.