Touring & Tasting had the opportunity to sit down with Oak Ridge Winery's General Manager Nick Karavidas.
T & T: How did a Southern California boy like you discover Lodi?
NK: When I was 18, I headed out to Rancho Cucamonga, which was a significant wine region back then. I worked for Brookside Winery, an industry giant. When I left two decades later, I told myself I wasn't going to work for anyone anymore and targeted Lodi as the next great up-and-coming wine appellation. Lodi had seen a real surge in plantings in the 1990s (about 80,000 acres were planted there in eight years!) and I knew there weren't enough wine professionals living there to support its growth. I didn't just see potential, but great potential, and I was right.
T & T: And then how did you get involved at Oak Ridge Winery?
NK: Shortly after arriving in the Lodi area, I started a consulting business, which was doing very well. During this same period of time, Rudy Maggio and Don and Rocky Reynolds had recently purchased oak Ridge Winery with the intent of repositioning into the wine business. I was hired by Oak Ridge Winery for a few projects that went very well which led to Rudy asking me to come on full-time as the general manager in late 2003.
T & T: How has Oak Ridge Winery managed to expand distribution so successfully since you’ve been on board?
NK: The short answer is “relationships.” It starts with the three families who own the winery: the Maggios, the Reynolds and the Donderos. The relationships they have with each other, their employees, and others in business are of paramount importance. Thanks to their strength and integrity, we’ve been able to net- work with other industry leaders in an array of business endeavors.
T & T: What are your major goals now?
NK: Our goal is to continue to promote a family owned operation while we expand distribution. We don’t want to ever grow so large that I don’t know the people who work here. I also want to help Lodi grow. I moved my family here knowing that this region would come up with the highest level of quality at the best prices. It’s great to help make that happen and to be in a place that is setting a new standard for California wine.