AWG Correspondent

Julie Dorris

Old Creek Ranch Winery Photos

Old Creek Ranch Winery Review

Region: California

Reviewed: July 16, 2012 by Julie Dorris
Published: August 20, 2012

When you’re heading to or from downtown Ojai on highway 33, there’s an irresistible little departure down a country road that leads to Old Creek Ranch Winery. As you pull up to the rustic property, you’ll likely see couples and families picnicking on the grounds under the fruit trees, or even individuals reading a book and enjoying a glass of wine on the patio. It’s inviting to say the least, but I was curious to see if the wines were as lovely as the property.

The Place:  The property is a historic vineyard (late 1800s) that is now a cattle farm and organic fruit orchard. Unfortunately, the vines fell prey to bacteria and are no longer suitable for producing grapes. The winemaking, using outsourced grapes, takes place on the property behind the tasting room.

The tasting room is located inside the red cabin with a large deck out front. Inside the fairly sizable room is a bar at the front and a lounge area in back. The décor is eclectic, with antiques scattered about and a leopard print rug.

The Experience:  As I entered the tasting room through the creaky door, I felt like I was entering someone’s mountain cabin. There were two other groups of people tasting, and it was loud but not cramped. A few small children were playing with toy animals on the rug in the lounge area. That’s when I noticed there were two tastings going on—Old Creek Ranch Winery at the bar and Vino V Wines in the sitting area. It was late on a Saturday, and the staff looked like they’d had a long day. We took a seat in the back and began tasting Vino V Wines, which is the personal label of the Old Creek’s winemaker Michael Meagher. The fee was $5 for a very informal tasting (four bottles sitting on an old wine barrel) with the winemaker himself. After enjoying Meagher’s French varietals, it was nearly closing time, so I did an abbreviated tasting of Old Creek Ranch wines. The normal tasting is $10 for 9 wines. What I loved about this winery was their creative spirit and use of less typical grapes. Their wine list included many interesting blends and Italian and French varietals.

The People:  Old Creek Ranch Winery is owned by John and Carmel Whitman. Mrs. Whitman is the daughter of the Maitlands, who founded the winery in 1981. Before the Maitlands, Antonio Riva planted the vineyard in the late 1800s, making wine without electricity and during the prohibition years. Michael Meagher is the winemaker at Old Creek, and I found it interesting, but not surprising, that he had worked with Adam Tolmach at Ojai Vineyard. I gather it’s a small world and one big family around these parts.

The Wines:  Old Creek has some standouts mixed in with some average wines. There were only a few whites, but the 2011 Moto Vino made from the grape Tocai Friulano was a crisp, aromatic wine. As for reds, I particularly enjoyed the Carignane, which had a deep, rich flavor and aroma (or as the description read, “hints of mitt leather”). Another red that I enjoyed was the 2009 Barbera. It was already delicious but the server assured me it would get even better with age. The Old Creek Ranch and Vino V Syrahs were both good, but if I had to choose between the two, I would choose Vino V. No competition here, I suppose, since he made them both.

Extras:  Just ask if you’d like a tour. The staff will do their best to show you around the property and the barrel room provided it’s not too busy in the tasting room. It’s free, informal and great way to see the workings of a small winery.

Address & Contact Information: 10024 Old Creek Rd. Ventura, California 93022. Telephone: 805-649-4132, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Closed for remodeling.

Overall Rating:  

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