A Toast to Ojai's Pink Moment
Winemakers Daniel Garcia and Bruce Chernof are hands-on vintners when it comes to growing, tending and harvesting grapes in their Upper Ojai vineyard. The pair – doctors by day – founded Ojai Alisal Vineyard with two acres in 2009. They saw their first harvest in 2012 with nearly 250 cases produced under their label of estate wines, which launched this summer.
"We are thrilled to be part of the renaissance and resurgence of local winemakers and the opportunity to bring our handcrafted wines to the community," Chernof says.
"Using a Southern Rhone style of winemaking that dates back hundreds of years, we only use grapes that are grown on our vineyard and do not buy from outside growers. This makes our wines unique because they truly reflect the terrain and weather characteristics of Ojai's Upper Valley throughout the year."
Ojai Alisal Vineyard uses neutral oak and new oak barrels in the fermenting process so that the oak doesn't overwhelm the flavors; instead, it adds complexity and tannins and enhances aging.
"Our wines are really made with the French tradition in mind of pairing great wines with foods so they bring out the best in each other," says Chernof. The owners work with veteran winemaker Norm Stafford, who balances the flavors so neither the fruit nor the oak are so big that they overwhelm a meal, Chernof explains.
The wines are available for tasting at Azu restaurant (AzuOjai.com) in Ojai, and include four varietals: an intense citrusy Viognier; a full-bodied Syrah; smooth, medium-body Grenache; a gutsy Malbec; and signature 2013 Pink Moment Rosé, made with Grenache, beautifully balanced and capturing the pink sunsets that wash the Ojai Valley in pink hues. A medium-body Happy Valley Red blend – made from Malbec, Syrah and Grenache grapes – also is offered.