Majestic Oak Vineyard
321 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai
Some people opt to read a page-turning crime story or drink hot chocolate on rainy days. I prefer to find refuge from the dankness in a tasting room, with my fingers snuggled gently around a wine glass. Planning a short day of wine tasting, I made my way to Ojai, which offers a handful of tasting room options. The new kid on the block, Majestic Oak Vineyard, found a home on Ojai Avenue just eight months ago.
Stashed between Ojai Pizza and Libbey Park, a sandwich board sign invites patrons into the “cellar-like hobbit hole of a tasting room.” Descending the stairs into a private patio sets the mood and is sure to be bustling during summer months. The tasting room itself provides more than just a frame of seats around the bar. Tables lining the panoramic window allow you to spy on the outside world without the intrusion of passersby spying back at you.
At $15 a person, the tasting menu presents one white wine and four red wines. First up, a 2015 viognier. The light, semi-sweet and citrus notes make it a viable alternative for chardonnay drinkers. A fruit forward aroma will make you swirl and sniff your way through the tasting of the well-balanced viognier.
A 2014 grenache, my favorite varietal, visited my glass next. A fan of peppery reds, this grenache did not disappoint. Considered a young wine in the world of reds, Majestic Oak’s will surprise you with a green bell pepper scent. Don’t let this cloud your judgment; the wine finishes with tastes of cacao and raspberry, making it a great pairing for pizza or sea salt chocolate.
Sampling through two additional wines, the 2014 sangiovese and 2014 Syrah — the latter better paired with food — I was ready for the finale, a 2013 estate Syrah, the only wine on the menu hailing from the vineyard just 4 miles west of the tasting room. Marketed as “preview only” and aged just 18 months in the barrel, I was excited to give my 2 cents on whether it was ready to bottle. The earthy, yet palatable red was a reminder that the wine was granting a long-sought wish — to drink wine grown and made in Ventura County. Perhaps with a little help from local wine lovers, Majestic Oak Vineyard will open the way for other locally grown wines.