Olabisi Winery is run by Ted Osborne and his wife Kim. Ted is part of the “new” generation of young ambitious winemakers in the Napa Valley who have earned their way to running their own wineries through alot of hard work from the ground up. Ted is self taught having entered the wine industry with a degree in English and no formal training. Along with other young area winemakers Ted has a plethora of International experience ranging from work at Passing Clouds in Australia, Rupert & Rothschild in South Africa, and Chateau du Seuil in Bordeaux. In addition he has put in significant cellar time working for two well-known Napa wineries, Cakebread and the northern most winery in the Napa Valley, Storybook Mountain (great Zinfandel producers by the way).
Ted was recently head winemaker at the Cabernet house of the Pina brothers and continues to consult for small wineries including Trahan. Today he runs Olabisi almost single handedly. Its always refreshing to find a non last name, name of a winery and this one is quite unique. The name “Olabisi” is an African girls name which means “joy multiplied”. Take that as you may, but keep that meaning in the back of your mind as you try his rich, layered fruit driven wines.
Ted’s philosophy is to keep a hands off approach as much as possible to wine making with the thiking that the more you manipulate a wine the more chances for flaws to enter the wine. His vineyard sources change depending on the year and the type of fruit. Olabisi sources from a variety of vineyards both in the Napa area and from other nearby counties. He uses a barrel aging program of French Oak and all the wine is made in Napa. We recently had the opportunity to barrel taste many of his upcoming vintages, some were still in fermentation including the 2007 Beckstoffer sourced Chardonnay from Mendocino County. As a result, this wine was not yet dry but already showed a richness and depth of flavor.
Ted usually makes a Syrah and a Petite Sirah (07 is from Napa Valley). With these two types of wines its hard to get a full indication of the final product so we we revisited this wine when it was in bottle. The 2007 Syrah shows big aromatics – black licorice, spices and almost a “meaty” component. It is a dark wine, rich in flavor with reasonably but not un-balanced tannins. He has made many Cabernet’s for other wineries and continues to make them, but not yet for his own label. All his prices are quite reasonable. Locally you can sometimes find Olabisi wine at Backroom wines in Napa as well as on a plethora of online merchants.
NOTE: Olabisi has moved out of their downtown Napa tasting room and are now focusing on personalized private tastings. Appointments are needed. Visit: www.olabisiwines.com
Ted also wrote an excellent piece for Present Magazine about his experiences as a winemaker during the 2008 harvest. Visit: www.presentmagazine.com/full_content.php?article_id=1717&full=yes&pbr=1