The Olney Trek

I left early this morning with my dog Dakota on a trek (or pilgrimage) to the Olney ranch, 12 miles up Skaggs Springs Road in the extreme north-west of the Dry Creek Valley appellation. It takes forever to drive to the ranch, which is up one of the most curvy, seemingly endless roads in Dry Creek–just one ridge over from Rockpile, and about the same elevation.

The vineyard looks like one of those incredibly steep vineyards in Germany or Portugal, clinging on to the side of the mountain, with terraced rows that take forever to sample. Great rocky soil, high elevation, great exposure to the sun. A great vineyard even if it takes a big part of a day for me to drive to and sample it.

John Olney (the winemaker for Ridge Vineyards in the Lytton Springs facility) owns and planted the vineyard. A labor of love, because it certainly isn’t an easy boutique vineyard.

This year, the grapes seem better than they ever have–juicy tight little clusters of dark purple fruit. I had to climb over and around bird netting that John puts out to keep the crop intact.

I called John and arranged for picking the beginning of next week, when I knew the grapes would be perfectly ripe. The weather is still a perfect 80 degrees as far as the 10-day report can predict.As I sampled, I was tasting the fruit every few minutes and visualizing the wine that would come from them. Excellent flavors, great balance, good acidity.Can’t wait to crush it and taste the wines….I’ll keep you informed once it’s safely in tank.By the way, I’m still brushing the burrs out of Dakota’s fur. She had a great time dodging bird netting and looking at me tasting grapes. Nice to have company out there in the hinterlands….


2 Responses to The Olney Trek

  1. Len Moore says:

    Mike, another great Zin in the making huh? We can’t wait to consume a few bottles, we know it will be great! We always appreciate your & Anne’s efforts.

  2. John Fisher - Bd. Mem. Henry Wine Gp says:


    Is Dakota a hunter? Are you a hunter? I’m a hunter, and Zin is a favorite game compliment. Would like to come see you, when the crush is over and you’ve got stable wines. Good luck and a bountiful harvest.

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