It’s always good to re-tell the story of Ojai Red for those that haven’t been introduced to this great value. Ojai Red, made since 1992, is a delicious composite of all the red wines that we craft. Because we don’t filter our red wines, there is always about 3 gallons of hazy wine left over after we rack the clear wine out of barrel. That hazy wine is collected, combined and re-settled, and we end up with a serendipitous blend each year.
What’s significant and often lost when we talk about this wine is that the ingredients used are the same carefully farmed and meticulously fermented grapes that go into our more exclusive bottlings. It’s a story that’s repeated everywhere in the wine world that the best bargains are to be found in the nondescript bottlings of craft producers that really care—whether in Burgundy, Piedmont or California.
Throughout the years Ojai Red was reserved for the local market but slowly made its way to outside buyers and tasters who recognized the terrific value and its exciting personality. This latest version is filled with great fruit and perfume, dominated by Syrah, enlivened with floral Grenache and racy Barbera, and smoothed by Pinot Noir’s natural silkiness. The wine finishes with a dash of acidity tempered by salty tannins and a dense texture that is an Ojai Vineyard hallmark.
The Ojai Vineyard, owned by Adam & Helen Tolmach, works closely with a dozen different vineyards on the Central Coast of California and produces wines from syrah, grenache, mourvedre, pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier. About 6000 cases are produced each year, divided between 15 bottlings, most of which are vineyard designated wines.
The key to producing special wine is in the care taken growing the grapes. There is an inverse relationship between quantity and quality when it comes to grapes, so rather than purchasing ours by the ton, we have long term agreements with our growers to buy the fruit by the acre. This lets us culture the vines and thin the crop to our strict specifications, yet allows the grower to receive a fair return.
In the winery we like to watch the development of the wine carefully, yet prefer to do as little as possible. Experience has shown us that the least amount of moving, pumping, fining and filtering is always best. The ultimate objective is to show off the distinctive character of a vineyard site.
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