2021 The Ojai Vineyard Chardonnay Rancho Ontiveros Santa Maria California USA
This 2021 bottling is our first from Rancho Ontiveros, and we couldn’t be more excited about this newcomer. Everything here is very Chardonnay, in a
classically proportioned way. You find vivid earthy scents of wet stones,
along with white nectarine, dried apples, shortbread, and raw nut flesh. Little
teases of tropicality are in the mix too. It hits the palate with a crack and
quickly expands into a full textured mid-palate bound by ropes of minerality.
Again you find the white stone fruits, along with candied lemon, juicy apple,
then white pepper a then white pepper and a coolness of mint and stones in the finish. It drinks like excellent Macon with its corseted sense of curvature and mineral
VINTAGE & WINEMAKING
We were looking to add another Chardonnay to our repertoire, but something
that would be different. The Rancho Ontiveros fruit came up as a possibility,
but it was the Wente clone of Chardonnay. Adam sorta avoided that clone over
the years—it’s a richer clone that’s responsible for a lot of thick, tropical
California Chardonnay. But grown in the cool Santa Maria Valley and
harvested relatively early—that could be a different thing, Adam thought.
We approached the fruit a bit differently. We still fermented the wine in
French oak barrels (mostly neutral, with a few new), but once the wine was
dry, we transferred it to stainless steel tanks to age on its lees until bottling.
The idea was that aging in tank would preserve freshness and keep the wine
tight, whereas barrel aging would take the wine into its rich potential. We
were so happy with our results that we’ll carry forward with that approach in
the coming years.
Rancho Ontiveros is another cool, windswept site in the Santa Maria Valley.
It’s roughly two miles inland from Presqu’ile, nestled amongst gently rolling
hills in the southern pocket of the valley. It’s a bit higher elevation than the
rest of the valley (over 700’), so it’s especially raked by cool Santa Maria wind.