IN THE CRU

Ojai Santa Barbara Syrah

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Adam Tolmach went to UC Davis and studied viticulture and enology, and after graduating in 1976 he settled down on the property his grandfather bought in the Ojai Valley in 1933 to farm sweet corn and melons, selling them at a roadside stand. After two years of this satisfying, yet difficult and nearly profitless work he sought employment in his field of study.

Adam had planted a vineyard in Ojai to Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc and had begun producing wine from that fruit in 1983. When the collaboration with Clendenen ended he concentrated all his attention on The Ojai Vineyard to further explore the infinite details of his craft.

Looking back over the last 25 years, one can see the development of The Ojai Vineyard came in three distinct phases. In the beginning it was lots of fun discovering the budding Santa Barbara County, experimenting with new plantings, new areas, and a wide selection of varietals; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and other Rhone varietals. Back in 1983 the vines were grown without much care in what was called a California sprawl. It took years to get growers to move towards progressive practices like drip irrigation and vertical trellising to improved wine grape quality.

As has been for a few years, the backbone of this 2017 bottling is Syrah grown on steep wind-blasted slopes at John Sebastiano. This site provides loads of gamey, tobacco inflected flavor and tractor beam drinkability, with aromas that show incense smoke and pepper galore! For some textural power they blended in a bit of warmer-climate Syrah from Roll Ranch and a touch of Grenache, also from John Sebastiano. This blend offers a cross-section of everything they love about Syrah: great earthy fragrance, savory fruit, and a mid-weight feel that is quenching and delicious with a fine meal.