Characters    History    Winemaking


The Characters
 

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The Olson Family - - - Proprietors

The Olson Family has been committed to farming and real estate for over a century. With ONX Estate Winery, the  family continues its farming activities much the same way their Scandinavian grandparents did more than 100 years ago. Pictured above are Brenda and Steve Olson along with Steve’s sister Judy Laakso and her husband Ed. The Olson family is fully focused on continuing the tradition of making world renowned wines for generations to come.

Brian Brown - - - Winemaker & Director of Operations

Although Brian cranked out a degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis and has spent the last twelve years in the wine business, he feels the honeymoon’s not nearly over. From internships at Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma, Salitage in Pemberton, Australia, and Napa Wine Company in Oakville to his first full time gig as an Enologist at Trefethen Vineyards, Brian learned how to make technically sound, vineyard driven wines that expressed fruit qualities over those of winemaking manipulation. After two and a half years of grunt and gristle, he decided to focus on ultra-premium small production winemaking at Vineyard 29 in Napa Valley, then moved to the newly built Round Pond Estate Winery where he remained for seven vintages. As if that weren’t enough to keep him satiated, Brian was concurrently offered the opportunity to lead a small team in developing the ONX program in the heart of the Templeton Gap of Paso Robles. In the Spring of 2014, Brian turned his full focus to ONX Wines, as Winemaker and Director of Operations. His coals remain fully stoked.

Having lived in the LA Beaches, Singapore, Western Australia, Switzerland, Wisconsin, and Texas, Brian is undoubtedly the most worldly member of the team here at ONX.  However, for a man that grew up idolizing He-Man and the 1982 movie version of Conan the Barbarian as a child, he has a acquired a love for delicacy in his adult life, frequently enjoying crisp Alsatian whites, Australian Rieslings, throwing pottery, and, of course, making mix-tapes.

 

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Jeff Strekas - - - Associate Winemaker

Jeff, a general misanthrope and curmudgeonly spectator of the Theater of Life, was born and raised in small-town Connecticut.  With the enormous amount of free time afforded by both the completion of a degree and professional stint in biochemical engineering, he naturally took frequent trips out to Napa Valley in supplement of his passion for wine. Discovering in short order that his current job bore a striking number of similarities to winemaking, he abandoned his other dream of becoming a CDC Virus Hunter and made a bee line to UC Davis for his MS. Insert placements at Merryvale Vineyards in St Helena, Franciscan Estate in Rutherford, Mollydooker in McLaren Vale, Australia, and most recently at Round Pond Estate in Rutherford with our own, Brian Brown, and you’ve got the makings of a true addict. He’s got it bad.

Given that he lists his heroes as Statler and Waldorf (from the Muppet Show), Dr. Bruce Banner (aka the Incredible Hulk), and Captain Quint (from Jaws), its no surprise that Jeff found his way to Paso Robles instead of rooting himself in a more traditional wine region.  Not that he can’t frequently be found enjoying the much more classic combination of sushi and dry German Riesling…

 

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Koryn Walters - - - Hospitality Manager

If any new animals show up at the vineyard, its probably Koryn’s fault.  After spending most of her life breeding, training, and showing Corredaile Sheep, Holland Lop Rabbits, Paint and Quarter Horses, she is most definitely ONX’s master of four-legged fauna.  She is also a fan of horror and suspense films, presumably since being a member of the founding family of Gilroy, CA (the garlic capital of the world) has made her immune to vampires.  After spending her early life skipping school in order to show her animals at the world’s most prestigious fairgrounds, Koryn moved to San Luis Obispo to attend Cal Poly.  After school, her work focus slowly shifted from animals and vet clinics to the equally unpredictable (and much less toothed) wine industry, with stints at Edna Valley Vineyards, the Workshop, and Tooth and Nail.  Now that she has taken on managing all of ONX Estate’s events and the ONX Collective, theoretically, the logistics can’t be any crazier than raising a farm full of equine, canine, ovine, or leporine friends.

 

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Drew Nenow - - - Enologist

If you’ve noticed ONX taking on a more beach-like vibe, it’ s probably due to the addition of Drew. One part Karch Kiraly, one part Thor and one part Wally Cleaver, Drew is most definitely the multi-tool of the ONX team. While growing up in San Diego allowed him to give in to the allure of golden sand and beach volleyball, Drew also frequently spent time with his father at Robert Nenow Winery and with his aunt and uncle as they built up Behrens and Hitchcock Wines. Wine and waves… What could be more Californian than that? Knowing that he wanted to follow in the same path, Drew attended Cal Poly (after all, where else could he keep that same beach/vineyard combo going?) and graduated in 2013 with a BS in Enology and a minor in Agribusiness. After that, he worked stints at Turley Wine Cellars and Villa San Juliette before marrying the love of his life, Andie, and joined ONX in 2015. In case that doesn’t sound busy enough, Drew can also be found backpacking (his record is 85 miles in a week), crossfitting and coaching high school volleyball. We have to assume this means that he thinks sleep is extremely overrated…

 

Sarah Gerkins - - - Marketing Manager

If you hear nerdy talk around ONX (that isn't wine-related), it must be Sarah. With a background in Graphic Design, Video Production, and Marketing, her vocab of choice is frames, pixels and click-through-rates. A native of the mid-west, Sarah grew up visiting and dreaming about living in California. In 2008, she hopped in her Jeep Cherokee, headed West, and didn't look back. She settled in beautiful Redding and landed a job with a media company. Then in 2010, Sarah stopped in Paso Robles for an afternoon while on a road trip with her family. She was enchanted with the rolling hills and resplendent vineyards, but assumed it was a one-time stop. While at one of the wineries her dad joked, "You could get married at a vineyard in Paso Robles." Call it fate, or maybe irony, Sarah later met and fell in love with a man from Paso Robles. They did get married at a vineyard in Paso, but spent the first 2 years of their marriage in Redding. In autumn of 2017 Kris and Sarah finally made the move to the Central Coast. Working at ONX gives her the opportunity to continue working in media, while enjoying the beauty and bounty of the vineyards.