John Olney is Head Winemaker & COO of Ridge Vineyards. John began traveling to Europe at an early age where he was introduced to the culture of wine in France and Italy. He frequently visited the south of France where he spent time with his uncle, Richard Olney, the celebrated food and wine writer. Through his uncle’s relationships, John learned first-hand many of the great European winemaking methods and traditions. Later, while attending a language exchange program in Provence, he chose to pursue wine as a career and, in 1994, enrolled in enological studies at the Lycée Viticole in Burgundy to learn the craft of winemaking in greater depth. Before coming to Ridge, John worked at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant as well as with several European winemakers including Gérard Chave in the Rhône, Lucien Peyraud at Domaine Tempier and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
In 1996, John began work at Ridge’s Monte Bello Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In 1999, he was placed in charge of the Lytton Springs Winery where he oversaw the construction of the innovative 17,000 sq. ft. straw bale winery. In 2021, John was promoted to Head Winemaker & COO.