Ojai means ‘moon nest’ in the language of the Chumash people. The valley is considered by some to be a vortex of spiritual energy, and the bucolic town which shares its name is certainly home to a number of artists and spiritual leaders. Adam Tolmach of the Ojai Vineyard has been working and farming in Santa Barbara County since 1976. In that time, his journey towards vinous enlightenment has followed a winding path, pursuing his vision of wines that spoke of the place where they were grown. Nothing added and nothing taken away – just impressive exhibitions of vineyard character, subtly framed by a lifetime of experience.
“The wines we make today are a culmination of four decades pursuing excellence with the fruit grown in our region. We believe that a history like ours is an asset only insofar as it is defined by evolution. Craft is not an overnight sensation; it is the step-by-step progress that only comes from intuition and experience.”
2021 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley
Bien Nacido is the source for 15,000 single vineyard designated wine releases over the course of its 43 year history – the most single vineyard designations in the world! Ojai has been working with the same block of vines since 1991. Everything here is UC Davis’ Clone 4 Chardonnay. This “California clone” is adapted to warmer vineyards, so in cool climates like Santa Maria Valley this clone is terrific material for crafting gently ripened and acidity-driven Chardonnay.
Retail $56.95 / btl
94 points, Jeb Dunnuck
“The 2021 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard comes from one of the Grand Cru sites in California and has a classic style in its more honeyed orchard, musky orange, and pear-like fruits as well as chalky minerality and spice-driven nuances. Beautifully textured on the palate, it has a forward, supple mouthfeel, terrific balance, and a clean finish. Drink this any time over the coming decade.“
2021 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
A blend of 4 vineyards this year, Kessler-Haak and Fe Ciega in Sta. Rita Hills, Presqu’ile in Santa Maria Valley and Puerta Del Mar, this is true regional wine. While the rest of California was affected by heat in 2021, Santa Barbara County was anomalously cool and foggy. This wine sees a shorter elevage than the single vineyards sites, giving the wine a textural immediacy geared for early enjoyment!
Retail $64.95 / btl
90 points, Jeb Dunnuck
“Leading off the Pinot Noirs, the appellation 2021 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County reveals a translucent ruby hue to go with charming, up-front aromas and flavors of ripe cherries, strawberries, sappy herbs, and underbrush. This medium-bodied, forward, total charmer is perfect for enjoying over the coming 3-5 years. It reminds me of a great Village-level Burgundy.“
2019 Syrah, Santa Barbara County
Sourced predominantly from John Sebastiano Vineyard, located on the northeastern edge of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The vines were planted on steep southern slopes, presented vertically to the fierce westerly wines coming off the Pacific Ocean. Planted on the climactic edge of where the vines can barely ripen their fruit, these produce fresh and lively wines with exotic aromas and soft, powdery-fine tannin.
Retail $59.95 / btl
91 points, Jeb Dunnuck
“A year in, year out winner is the 2019 Syrah Santa Barbara County. Medium ruby-hued and semi-opaque, it has a great, perfumed nose of ripe berry fruits, violets, and peppery herbs that carries to a medium-bodied, silky, wonderfully balanced Syrah that’s going to deliver loads of pleasure over the coming 4-6 years.“
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Wines are sold in cases of 12 bottles unless otherwise indicated. Delivery charges may apply. Some quantities are limited, and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
About the Winery
Adam Tolmach is one of the original artisans of the Central Coast. After graduating from UC Davis in 1976 with a degree in viticulture and enology, Adam settled on a property his grandfather had been farming in the Ojai Valley since 1933, and planted Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah vines. He co-founded Au Bon Climat in 1982 with Jim Clendenen, and then in 1991, Adam sold his share of ABC to Jim, allowing him to focus on The Ojai Vineyard.
In the ensuing 30 years, vineyard management and winemaking have evolved significantly, following Adam’s interest in producing natural, expressive wines with a light touch. He was a pioneer is contracting to buy fruit by the acre, rather than by the ton – allowing him to manage the vineyards himself, and focus on quality over quantity. He converted to sustainable practices, then organics, and manages the crop to achieve full maturity with lower potential alcohol. At the same time, his techniques in the cellar dictated a move to more used / less new oak; minimal then zero fining and filtering; minimizing use of sulphites, and adopting native yeast fermentation. Indeed, Adam refers to his journey as an evolution which is ongoing.
In January 2021, Adam and his wife Helen purchased the highly-regarded Fe Ciega (Blind Faith) Vineyard overlooking the Santa Ynez River in the Sta. Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County. Adam has been producing a Fe Ciega Pinot Noir since 2003, referring to it as a ‘luminary planting’, comprising 9 acres of vineyard on a 43 acre property. Conversion to organic is underway. An impressive array of vineyards provide fruit for The Ojai Vineyard, including La Côte and Bien Nacido. Antonio Galloni comments, “More than anything else, these wines give consumers a terrific opportunity to explore the personalities of a number of top sites at prices that are exceedingly fair.” – August 2020