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The Ojai Vineyard

The Ojai Vineyard The Ojai Vineyard began in 1983 with the dream of producing distinctive California wines using traditional wine making practices learned in Burgundy. Twenty-seven years later Adam Tolmach continues to pursue the craft at his artisanal winery in Ojai. His quest to bring together European sensibilities of balance and finesse with the exuberant fruit from coastal California vineyards is expressed in the wines he makes today.


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109 S. Montgomery Street, Ojai, CA, US, 93023 Email:
Phone: 805-649-1674 Web:
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  Chardonnay Bien Nacido
The chardonnays from 2005 were marked by very high natural acidity levels, and the wines stubbornly refused to go through the acidity softening malo-lactic fermentation. The naturally occurring bacteria that cause this fermentation dislike very acidic conditions, so I went through a knock-down drag-out fight to get them to complete the malo-lactic. They did not cooperate, though fortunately all the mixing and stirring we did to encourage this secondary fermentation imparted a sense of yeasty richness that helps give the wines balance. This chardonnay possesses a dramatic smoky, toasty and lemony aroma, quite different from the usual tropical-fruit character that seems to define Bien Nacido Vineyard. Barrel fermented and aged in older French oak barrels, this very lively wine is the perfect foil for seafood. Although quite tart, it has a toasty rich character that lingers on the palate in a most delightful way.
  Grenache Thompson
I have always loved the syrah from this vineyard and bought this grenache on a lark. It looked particularly well farmed and made a surprisingly good wine. Thompson Vineyard is situated in a cool enough spot to allow a leisurely ripening of grenache fruit without the excessive loss of acidity that usually occurs in warmer sites. This wine displays an aromatic flamboyance that only grenache can show, yet has uncommonly fine balance and subtlety.
  Pinot Noir Bien Nacido
This pinot noir is always exotic, and in 2004 it is smoky and herbal in a dramatic sort of way that I find captivating. The vintage gave us a very generous open-knit style that certainly gives pleasure right now-however, based on previous experience with the vineyard this wine will gain complexity with age.
  Pinot Noir Clos Pepe
If you are looking for purity and a very correct expression of pinot noir, this is the wine. It has such a lovely aroma of rose petal and, again, an easy-to-enjoy-now style that is the hallmark of this vintage.
  Pinot Noir Fe Ciega
Winemaker Rick Longoria does a great job farming this terrific site and generously allows us to purchase a small portion of his vineyard's production. There is a provocative animal-yness that lurks around the dark fruit scents of this wine, setting it apart from other vineyards. It is just fascinating! Unlike the 2003 which needs careful cellaring for several years, this wine brings great pleasure right now.
For the second year in a row, we've blended a barrel of sauvignon blanc into the rosé. The acidity and liveliness of sauvignon blanc lifts the aroma of this syrah and pinot noir blend and brings zesty freshness to its flavor.
  Sauvignon Blanc
For the second year in a row we did an interesting experiment with crop yields. Our normal procedure at Westerly is to thin the crop to half of what the rest of the vineyard yields; since we buy our grapes by the acre rather than by the ton the grower accommodates our needs. In the last two years we were able to buy a ton of fruit from rows quite close to ours that were farmed in the conventional way with higher yields. In each year the low yield wine was more powerful and dramatic and of superior quality.
  Syrah Melville
There is nothing else quite like the striking aromas of very cool-climate syrah. This wine's aroma is so wild and peppery it's hard to put down the glass. It's nice when a wine is so captivating that you feel compelled to taste it again and again to fully understand all of its complexities.
  Syrah Santa Barbara
Contrary to what you might expect from the vintage, this wine is richer and more concentrated than the 2004. The lighter and heavier aspects of the various syrahs we used in this blend worked well together. We really like the aromatic lift grenache gives to syrah, so, as in 2004, we added a generous dollop of it to this blend from Roll Ranch, Bien Nacido, Verna's, White Hawk, Thompson, Melville and Stolpman.
  Syrah White Hawk
Aromatically and texturally this wine, by no design of my own, comes closest to that "international style" that I love to take pot shots at. This wine truly is a monolithic monster that is spicy and mineral-y in aroma as well as dense and mouth-coating. It's a style that many people love to drink young, and, although it is drinkable now, I think that's ultimately unfair to this wine. I wouldn't even think of opening it for at least five years because I have found that, with time, many of our wines similar to this one shed their baby fat and become balanced, compelling and interesting wines with age. This one has all the elements to mature gracefully for years.


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