A look back into our past…
The Ranch was always a destination even in its most primitive state and I felt it could be an even better destination with more creature comforts.
The Winery is located on the Old Creek Ranch, which was part of a 22,000 acre Spanish land grant (Rancho Ojai) granted to Don Fernando Tico on April 6, 1837 by the Mexican government.
In May 1906, Antonio Riva of northern Italy (a chef in Paris, London, and later in San Francisco) purchased the Ranch and built a Winery on the property. Riva wines were made without electricity and utilized gravity as a means to move the wine in the processing area. This conveyance method has been rediscovered today as the “latest and best method” for fruit conveyance as it is less stressful than the currently utilized pumping methods. Riva produced wine until about 1942, including the prohibition years when customers would leave a written order and one dollar on a clothesline and would return later to pickup a jug of red wine left at the base of an oak tree. In 1933 Mr. Riva was warned the FBI was coming to raid the Winery. All wine beyond what was legal for one family to produce was dumped prior to the FBI’s arrival.
Mr. Riva died in 1947 at the age of 92. The property was sold to retired Shell Oil Company oilman, William Bagby and after owning it for a year, sold to neighbors Muktar and Edith Willett. The Willetts continued to operate the winery during their 20 years of ownership.
The Ranch was purchased by John and Carmela Maitland in 1976 as a place for Mrs. Maitland to ride her horses. During the Maitland’s ownership, the old ranch house was refurbished and a large orchard, berry patch and seven varieties of seedless grapes were planted.
Eventually, four varieties of wine grapes were planted and through a partnership with local Ventura high school teachers Chuck Branham and Paul Belgum, they began to commercially produce wine. The first vintage was introduced in 1981 with many award-winning wines to follow.
Sadly, in the late 1980’s the vineyard fell prey to the bacterium that causes Pierce’s Disease and by the mid-1990’s, the winery began to outsource grapes from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.
In July 2015, the Holguin Family purchased the property bringing a new vision to the Ranch. Enjoy a picnic with family and friends, a game of corn hole and bocce ball, or stroll through the property’s beautifully landscaped meandering pathways. Although the Holguin Family brought a new vision to the Ranch, they have been careful to maintain the look and feel many long-time customers have enjoyed through the years.
After nearly 30 years, Old Creek Ranch finally has vines growing on the property. In late 2018 and into spring 2019, eight acres with Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Albariño were planted. Late 2019 will see work begin on preparing an additional five acres where Syrah, Grenache, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo will be planted.