Wine Blogging Wednesday #75 “Singles Night”: Out with Ojai Vineyards Roll Ranch

For Wine Blogging Wednesday #75  Joe Robert’s prompt on 1 Wine Dude says:

  • Your mission is to procure a wine produced from grapes grown in a single vineyard, and tell the world about it on March 21st.
  • You can pick any wine style, made from any grape(s), hailing from any region of the world
  • The only catch is that the wine’s grapes should come from a single vineyard The point is to get as close to a wine coming from one single plot of land as you can, to emphasize how what’s special about that place on Earth gets transmitted to you through that wine

I planned to visit Roll Ranch in the upper Ojai Valley in Ventura County and talk about The Ojai Vineyard‘s wines made from grapes grown there.

But I Just Flat Ran Out of Time. Instead I did the next best thing–I got Annie Any-Day to come over to taste two wines from Ojai Vineyard’s Roll Ranch with me.

Why Annie? Because she had her horses up in Ojai for fifteen years and worked at Rancho Fino in the upper Ojai for nearly two years taking care of 50 Paso Fino horses, horses that can dance to flamenco music, almost like thunder. She has a lot of time on the land, quality time.

When she says that the Ojai Vineyard Viognier reminds her of sweet oat hay from Ojai, she has a certain authority that few have. That oat hay quality is the best oat hay in the world she says–and again she should know, having 40 years experience with horses. It has the most vitality to it, she says, you can feed it to your horses and they feel good. “I would eat it!” she admits with a giggle.

The Ojai Valley gets a lot of sun. In fact it’s famous for its sunny days. It is sunny almost every day of the year. Because the upper Ojai gets so much sun makes it great for sweet oak hay says Annie.

All that sunshine, plus the soil, provides certain conditions which have been harnessed by Adam Tolmach and his basically hands-off approach in his Roll Ranch Viognier and Syrah which I opened last night for the Rhone Rangers twitter tasting hosted by @WilliamSonoma aka William Allen and celebrating the Rhone Rangers event this weekend in San Francisco. Here’s a link to Rhone Rangers tickets and info. Read more about the Rhone event in SF and other things Rhone on William’s blog “Simple Hedonisms.”

The viognier is the color of Ojai sweet oat hay, says Annie, a light golden color, with no green to it. Because the land gets so much sun, the hay is so sweet. But because it is so cool at night, it’s excellent for the grapes.

While I’m down in Ventura cursing the cold foggy evenings, the land is exhaling, and inhaling, drawing the ocean air inland, and the grapes in upper Ojai cool down.

The nose of the Ojai Vineyards Viognier is honeysuckle pineapple, lemon zest, fresh like linens off the line. It gives you a run for your money! In the mouth, it swirls around and tingles your tongue, like when you eat pineapple, and makes you want to Buddha laugh because there’s a spiritual element, a connection with the earth–you feel a clarity like after meditation. It’s an energetic, uplifting wine, it grabs you and makes you alert, elevating your spirit. It offers a full mouth-feel, more in the center of the palate. The finish is velvety, smooth, lingering. Overall, the wine is subtle and graceful, not overwhelming and cloying like some viogniers. Barrel fermented in older oak barrels for 11 months on lees and completing a second ML,  there’s definitely some vanilla here and a wonderful richness. The winemaker says it could handle 10 years in cellar.

2005 Roll Ranch Syrah: I could just sniff this 2005 Roll Ranch Syrah all day–it smells that good. Annie says the layers it exhibits reminds her of the striped Topa Topas–the one that hosts the iconic pink moment, the mountain range behind the Ojai Valley. When you’re in the upper Ojai, the air is so clear you feel as if the mountains are close enough to touch.

There’s a legend attributed to the Chumash that says  all you need to do is hang your head over the top of the Topas, and the wind will take your cares away.

Well, this wine is a lot easier to climb then the Topas and will accomplish the same goal. Just take one whiff, let the smell of this syrah expand in your lungs and release the stress from your mind. Drinking this wine is like watching a glass blower take a blob of material and turn it into something intricate, expansive, amazing.

That same hot summer Ojai sun that makes that sweet oat grass hay ripens the Roll Ranch fruit into a super intense mind blowing expansive experience. It smells like a sunny day in a blackberry field–warm, earthy, ripe, rich, with plenty of tannins to balance and let you out this one away for years. You can smell your wine 6″ from your nose–you can smell your neighbor’s wine. If you’re using the right glass, that is–more on wine glasses in a post soon!

Ojai’s transverse range is one of the few places in the world where black oil seeps out of the ground and there’s a bit of that oily, petroleum earth and graphite plus a bit of warm cedar in the wine:

You don’t have to go sit in a mineral spa–just sip this syrah and you’ll get all the benefits of soaking in a hot tub!

This syrah is viscous like oil and it rolls off your tongue, offers plenty of black and blue fruit,  and the finish lasts and lasts with a black cherry on top. Just a superb wine, in a gorgeous bottle with a deep punt and massive shoulders built to carry it over time. It’s almost a shame that I opened this 2005 syrah in 2012–it could have gone for a few more years!

Just because I didn’t get to visit Roll Ranch for this blog post doesn’t mean I’ve given up on going there. Look for part two in this series of posts about Ojai Vineyard’s Roll Ranch. I plan to take horsewoman Annie Any-Day and geologist Bacchus Schmaccus with me; we’ll probably hook up with an assistant winemaker and maybe a cellar rat! Who knows, they might even put us to work out there before we retire to the tasting room in Ojai! Subscribe (that’s the box in the upper right hand corner) and you get part 2 in your in-box!

St Patrick’s Dessert: Exclusiv St. Pat’s-tini

Ok, so I agree, Saint Pat’s-tini is a stupid name. But it’s a great drink. We thought it should be called the Shamrock because with this drink you’re sure to get lucky. But that name is probably already taken.

I know that this blog is called WINE PREDATOR and you expect to read about wine here. However,  every once in a while, as much as I love wine, port, sherry, and cognac, I move beyond grape based adult beverages.

That’s right,  I do love martinis. Yes, part of the affair is the romance of the glass–there’s nothing more sexy than a martini glass if you ask me.

I usually go for a gin martini up with a twist. Too many cocktails called martinis are too sweet for my taste.

I have discovered a few martinis that meet my standards, that make me swwon. One is the house martini at the Edison in downtown LA that features St Germain, that magical liquer made from elderberry flowers (!).

Just the other day, some friends and I tried out a St Patrick’s Day martini using Exclusiv vodka and a recipe they sent me (they sent me the vodka too…). We tasted a regular and an orange vodka then we tried the plain in the St Pats-tini. And then we tried another round just to make sure it was as good as we thought it was.

It was. Unmistakably YUMMY. So yummy that I am going to bring this to the Triiibes and Linchpins martini smackdown in Ventura on St Pat’s Day!

So if you’re looking for a dessert cocktail that’s a purty nice green, isn’t too sweet, and will very likely make you very lucky, try this:

Exclusiv Saint Pat’s-tini  
2 oz Exclusiv Vodka
1/2 oz Creme de Cocoa
1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/2 oz green Creme de Menthe
Exclusiv suggests you shake the first three ingredients then pour into a chilled martini glass  then sink Green Creme de Menthe then garnish with a mint leaf and chocolate shavings. We liked the drink better with it all shaken together even though it isn’;t as pretty this way. We never got around to making the chocolate shavings but the fresh mint was definitely awesome and I have it conveniently growing in my garden. By the way, they sent me the fancy picture with the recipe; the top one of Helen I took with my iPhone and I think I took the other one with the daffodils too. (Note–don’t drop your iPhone on the edge of the martini glass–the glass will break and the precious liquid will spill sticky stuff everywhere…)

Here’s more about what Annie, Dave, Helen (pictured) and I thought about the vodka:


–doesn’t smell like stinky socks! (like many vodkas)
–smell and taste reminds us of gin
–very smooth
–seems expensive, classy bottle
–on the sweet side
–mixed with grapefruit soda: very refreshing
–make a great mixer


–very nice essence of orange
–orange flavor not overwhelming
–beautiful orange blossoms
–nice clear taste, not cloying, no unpleasant after taste
–mix with cranberry, lemon slice or on the rocks very chilled

About Saint Patrick’s Day St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America 1737 and has long been synonymous with celebration. Once confined to Irish neighborhoods, this March 17th holiday has grown dramatically in popularity over the years with over 100 U.S. cities including Ventura, will host St. Patrick’s Day parades this year. Here’s how to join Ventura’s parade on your bike or walking!

About Exclusiv Vodka From the gentle rolling wheat fields of Moldova, Russia, near the shores of the Black Sea,  Exclusiv Vodka uses “the highest quality winter wheat and the finest distilling process, giving it a sweeter, more polished taste without polishing techniques.” The International Review of Spirits Award gave Exclusiv Vodka their Gold Medal and the Best Buy Rating.
We thought Exclusiv Vodka is very reasonably priced at $20 for 1.75 liters. You can “Like” Exclusiv Vodka on Facebook at and follow on Twitter @ExclusivVodka.
And now to go experiment with some Exclusiv Vodka and St Germain recipes!! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!