Winemaking Team

John Olney

Head Winemaker & COO

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. 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. 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 put in charge of the Lytton Springs Winery where he oversaw the construction of the innovative 17,000 square foot straw bale winery. In 2021, John was promoted to Head Winemaker & COO.

Michael Bairdsmith

Assistant Winemaker, Lytton Springs

A Northern California native, Mike discovered his passion for wine after receiving his bachelor’s degree from UC Davis. Having chosen English Literature as his preferred field of study instead of Enology however, he came to the wine world the way most liberal arts majors do: working in the restaurant industry. The natural beauty and world-class restaurants of Sonoma County drew Mike to Healdsburg in 2000. By 2003, his fascination with wine and winemaking inspired him to take the plunge and he accepted a cellar intern position at a small Dry Creek Valley winery. He quickly moved up to Assistant Winemaker and returned to school to earn an associate’s degree in Enology. Mike joined the Ridge team at the Lytton Springs location in 2014. He lives in Healdsburg with his family.