For years, Pasadena native Larry Guerra’s passion for tennis drew him to Ojai’s annual world class tennis tournament, so when he decided to retire from the mutual fund arena, he journeyed north, settled on land in upper Ojai and aced his new role as a farmer and a winemaker. That choice has served him well.
Larry planted his first estate vines in 2009 and took farming and winemaking courses at U.C. Davis, but he didn’t abandon his love of tennis. The court on his property is now a venue for matches in the same annual tennis tournament that brought him to Ojai.
In 2012 Larry produced his first release which he dubbed his “hobby wine,” but his hobby soon grew into a new, full-time career. By 2013 he debuted his first commercial release and in 2014, he hired Dominic O’Reilly as head winemaker of Topa Mountain Winery. Larry continued to farm grapes on his land, but soon extended the winery’s reach to grapes grown in the Santa Barbara County wine region.
As the winery grew, so did Larry’s vision as he put into motion his plan for an expansive venture in the heart of Ojai. His magnificent spread includes a small vineyard, olive trees and a vast outdoor entertainment area with covered patios, picnic tables, “lawn” games where tourists, as well as Ojai natives can gather to picnic and sip some lovely wine. There’s also room for a band shell that features local bands. In 2016, the Topa Mountain Winery’s stunning tasting room opened, featuring two tasting bars, one of which stands before a window that frames a view of the Topa Topa Mountains. You might even catch a pink moment there while sipping a flight or a glass of the winery’s handcrafted wine.
As you move through the Taste of Ojai, nestled in the valley of the Topa Topas, make sure you add a taste of Topa Mountain Winery to your list.
By: Ilona Saari
Topa Mountain Winery
821 W. Ojai Avenue
Ojai, Calif. 93023