A Little Sip Of Ojai

Su Nido Inn in Ojai

With its Mediterranean climate, indie-anchored charm, and mountains that epically turn pink at sunset, few places are less polarizing than the idyllic nest of restoration known as Ojai.  Apt for a city named after the moon, an air born salve of serenity wafts through its winds, lavender scented, pixie seasoned, where fair trade and locally made are the laws and legacy of this ever-loved land.

Dotted with olive oil tasting rooms and quaint corners to read and recalibrate, it’s a bit hard to believe this foot-friendly, art centric enclave is a mere 65 miles north of Los Angeles.  Beneath its historic arcade, its main street of mercantile is ripe with antique stores and organic eateries, wine tasting rooms, and locally owned boutiques.  Community pride is omnipresent, as is the want to become one with it, by anyone stopping by.

Needless to stay, as an Angelean, I have “stopped by” many, many times.

Su Nido Inn Vineyard Wines
Varietals at the Ojai Vineyard

Holding rank as one of my favourite spa destinations, this time, it was with the intent to have a quick sleepover and taste some wine.

With an aesthetic appeal consistent with Ojai’s Mission Revival roots, we bunked at the Su Nido Inn, an all-suite oasis bathed in sunlight, stonework, and enveloping a centric cobblestone courtyard.  Plan on parking your car (if that’s how you arrived) and not returning to it until it’s time to leave – there’s really no need.  Fortunate, when so much worthwhile wine tasting is steps outside your room.

Su Nido Inn Rooms and Terraces
Su Nido Inn rooms and terraces

But first, a dip in the tub with those Molton Brown amenities.  Rooms are spacious, private, and gloriously sun lit.  Our Heron Suite featured a secluded wraparound terrace with views of the valley.  Swoon.  Then, out the door, tangerine tinged market umbrellas above, weathered stone below, olive trees and terracotta tiles, at Su Nido (Your Nest) the Ojai feels are comfortingly consistent.  Follow the fountain and off you go.

Wine tasting in Ojai is its own exercise in sublimity.  So many assembled, a sweet saunter through the village, and all is there; close, casual.  No airs of ostentatiousness, an ease makes what is indigenously wonderful, easily accessible.  From walks to wines to wellness, there’s a reason Ojai’s revisit rate must be through the roof.  (Feel free to check me on that).

Casa Barranca in Ojai
Casa Barranca Organic Winery

And it seems entirely fitting that the first certified organic winery in the Central California Coastal region would be here, at Casa Barranca Organic Winery & Tasting Room.   Here, the sunlight banks off the Craftsman-style interiors, where warm woods and cushioned barstools make sticking around and sampling a flight, a no brainer.  Choose from two flights, the Topa Topa or the Chiefs Peak (or, um, see insider tip, another no brainer).  With sustainable practices at the forefront of their focus, utilizing exclusively organic grapes, you can taste in good conscience.  Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs,  Grenache Blancs and Cabernet Franks, ask for Alysha. Every seat taken, she handles the room with an informal grace, a reverie for the vine, a wonderful air, coupled with good humor.

Same goes for all those delightful boutiques, home hewn, situated so conveniently for in between the tastings and the electric pink sunsets.  Summer Camp to Sunstream Goods, Fig to Bungalow by Fig, the artistic enterprising is impossibly inspired.  Seasonal festivals that celebrate everything from lavender to tangerines, residents line the streets with lawn chairs securing their spots for parades.  The small-town charm combined with the large-scale ingenuity ignite an elixir of suburban summons us city folk can’t help but want to make our own.

Ojai Vineyard Bottles of Wine
Ojai Vineyard’s bottles and cases of wine

But to solidify Ojai as an oenophile destine, which almost seems unfair given its allotment of allures, we figured we’d test out one more tasting room.  Offering exclusively oak aged varietals, housed in an old refurbished firehouse, (awesome), The Ojai Vineyard combines European balance with Southern California bounty.  Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Syrah’s.  The Rosé, unlisted, is a showstopper.  Wine Spectator junkies, yes, this is the one with all the awards.  Talk to Charlie.

With its laid-back beckon behind its lure, such contentedness to its culture, Ojai infuses an irresistible want within anyone who spends time there.  The shop owners all seem to exhibit this enviable tranquillity, farm to table might be the only way people eat, and a climate which mimics the Mediterranean is prototypically, well, perfect.  It’s no wonder living in Los Angeles, why people flee and flock here as often as they can make happen.  And it’s no wonder why people who live everywhere else, once they visit, are inclined to the same.

Shopping in Ojai
Shopping and exploring Ojai

The Details

Su Nido Inn, 301 North Montgomery Street, Ojai, CA 93023, USA.

Tel: +1(805) 646-7080

Website: www.sunidoinn.com

Casa Barranca Organic Winery & Tasting Room, 208 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, CA 92023, USA.

Tel: +1(805) 640-125

Website: www.casabarranca.com

The Ojai Vineyard, 109 South Montgomery Street, Ojai, CA 93023, USA.

Tel: +1(805) 649-1674

Website: www.ojaivineyard.com

Insider Tip: At Casa Barranca, tell your tasting room server the magic word WINELOVER, and receive a second flight with their complements!  Thank you, Ojai may I have another! And another tip: if you can visit midweek, you’ll enjoy a far less populated experience.

Author Bio:

Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.

Photographs by Jolie Loeb

21 Comments

  1. Oh how lovely! I think I know where to book my anniversary trip this year – Thank you Jolie! I needed something gorgeous and special but closeby and new, and while we love Ojai we usually stay at the Inn, and this looks perfect and new to us!

  2. Never stayed anywhere in Ojai except the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. This place sounds great though. Will have to check it out!

  3. Sounds absolutely perfect Could be our next getaway SANS kiddos!! We have never ventured to Ojai, and this seems right up our alley. Thank you as usual for your wonderful description.

  4. Ojai is such a magical place. Never heard of the Su Nido, but now I want to check it out. Your article makes me want to get in the car now and head out to Ojai

  5. I love Ojai. Haven’t spent much time in the town though, mostly the surrounding mountains! But time to change that! You make it all sound wonderful! Love the organic wine tip.

  6. I’ve never been and always known about Ojai. Thanks for mapping it out for me. No excuse, I must visit.

  7. Nice to see there is life beyond the walls of the Ojai Ranch….seems like once your there, you tend to stay within their confines. Su Nido Inn seems like a wonderful alternative, especially with Molton Brown accessories…love them and most resorts won’t step up. Thanks for going outside of the box !!

  8. Ojai has always been a little elusive for me. You’ve given me a proper jumping off spot! And… organic wine!? Charging up the car rn.

  9. That sounds like a small dose of paradise. No need to worry about packing or planning just hop in the car and you’re there before brunch! We’ve stayed at “The Big place” and I’m ready for something low key and having genuine town flavor. Sounds like it’s time to make a plan!

  10. Sounds amazing!! I love Ojai and this makes me want to get back there ASAP!! Casa barranca was a fun time.

  11. Great review! I’m so glad you mentioned the store Fig. It’s my local favorite! And thanks for teaching me a new word: oenophile.

  12. We were just talking about a possible “local” getaway. This seems like just the spot. So beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. We’ve been going to Ojai together for 20 years and I grew up going to summer camp there, so the town has a very fond place in my heart. Usually, we stay at the Ojai Valley Inn & Resort, but I loved taking a different approach and seeing the town a bit more. Su Nido is not as fancy as the Resort, but the room was certainly more spacious, very comfortable, and well appointed. The location was ideal too: close enough to shops and restaurants to walk and close to the hills for a good walk or hike. And what can one say about wine tasting? Casa Barranca’s wines were mellow and didn’t have a lot of the tannic bite that you sometimes get in Central Coast reds. Their rosé was also surprising – almost dark enough to look like a pinot noir, but light and fruity. At Ojai Vineyard, we bought a rosé to bring home and and if you can get into some of the reds a bit deeper on their list, they are pretty incredible. Worth a visit!

  14. Ojai is a slice of heaven! Reading this makes me want to go back … asap! I’ve only stayed at Ojai Valley Inn so I love hearing about another great option!

  15. Ojai has never been on my list of places to visit… until now! Thanks for saving me all of the homework. Please know that I’m taking all ownership of the fruits of your work and calling it my own. It gets me points with the girlfriend!

    • I love this! Far as I’m concerned credit stealing is the highest form of flattery. If anyone asks, Alonzo, I got all my good intel from you.

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