About Us

Back in 1995, after falling in love with northern California’s beautiful wine country, college student Joe Otos decided to follow his heart and learn the enology trade. Jumping at a chance to apprentice under one of the industry’s most revered winemakers, he gave up a career in the profession he had studied and devoted himself to wine. Over the next four years Joe proved his talents and soon became a sought-after winemaker in his own right, making distinctive small lots from local grapes.

John and Joe in the cellar, circa 2006

John and Joe in the cellar, circa 2006

In 2001, Joe partnered with vineyard owner and technology executive John Tracy, who shared Joe’s passion for wine – and Owl Ridge was formed. They agreed that Owl Ridge would focus exclusively on making big but balanced Cabernet Sauvignons from some of the region’s prized grapes.

Winemaker Joe in the Owl Ridge vineyard

Winemaker Joe in the Owl Ridge vineyard

Early production was limited in quantity – but not quality – as Joe and John found their feet. They focused on sourcing fruit from only two renowned vineyards: T. R. Passalacqua in the Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma County’s Brigden vineyard. Developing a very close working relationship, they worked the fermentations together by hand and in 2006 Owl Ridge was named the Best New Winery at the Wine Literary Awards Tasting.

Joe tasting through barrels on a recent vintage

Joe tasting through barrels of a recent vintage

John now focuses on the intricacies of running the winery’s day to day operations, allowing Joe to focus on seeking out outstanding fruit and producing his signature blends. Since those early successes, Owl Ridge has branched out to explore other varietals and its wines have gone on to win numerous awards. But Joe and John still source only premium fruit from California’s most respected growing regions, producing sought-after wines which attract national attention. The commitment to quality is undiminished and they invite you to try Owl Ridge’s distinctive current releases.