The key to producing special wine is in the care taken growing the grapes.
After more than 3 decades at The Ojai Vineyard, what keeps me motivated and excited about running a winery is the craft. The slow process of assessing the outcome of choices made with experience and intuition is what it’s all about—and using that knowledge to make wines that fit a harmonious vision. Keeping the place small, and keeping my hands in the winemaking has allowed me to stay focused on craft.
Making wine in California, and particularly in the south here, one works with grapes that naturally deliver generosity. At this latitude it’s easy to make bombastic monsters, the trick is finding nuance and elegance. And that has been the quest: to combine European sensibilities of balance and finesse with the exuberant fruit from coastal southern California vineyards. By definition, great vineyards have something unique to say, and we take it as our job to capture those characteristics in a clear and unadorned way.
After so many years of experience I have a good idea of what can be expected from a particular vineyard and attempt to fashion the winemaking of each lot to bring out its best. Vintages vary, and that has to be considered in the process—craft punishes rigidity and demands adaptability. We take an attentive but hands off approach as we watch the development of the wines in the cellar and avoid moving, pumping, fining and filtering. The ultimate objective is to do next to nothing and let the vineyard express its unique personality.