Have you ever heard someone describe a place as having “character?” If there’s any town that fits that description, it’s our hometown of Ojai, California. This special city inspired us to create a hard kombucha that has just as much personality as its home.
What Is Ojai’s Location and Landscape Like?
Ojai is located in Ventura County in southern California, about 82 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Despite being so close to one of the largest cities in the United States, Ojai feels like a magical little oasis.
The stunning geography surrounding Ojai evokes a sense of serenity throughout town. The city sits in the valley of the Topatopa Mountains, and the Los Padres National Forest borders the north edge of Ojai. The San Antonio Creek snakes through the southern portion of Ojai, providing a waterscape to the rugged terrain.
Just south of Ojai is Lake Casitas, home to numerous recreational activities, including fishing, boating, and bird watching. Its natural beauty makes it a hotspot for commercial filming and photography, so you may be inspired to snap a few pictures along its shores.
To top off all the natural gifts that the valley is blessed with, Ojai has a gorgeously balmy climate, with an average temperature of 67 degrees in January and 83 degrees in June.
How Did Ojai Come To Be?
Ojai has a rich history that can still be seen in the city today. The beauty of the Ojai Valley was first recognized by the Chumash Native Americans, whose villages were scattered throughout the valley. In fact, the word Ojai comes from the Chumash word for moon.
In 1782, Spanish missionaries began to settle in the valley, and soon after, the Chumash were forced to leave the valley or convert to Christianity. Much of the unique culture of the Chumash people was lost during this period.
In 1821, Mexico became independent from Spain. The valley became Mexican territory until the Mexican-American War concluded, and California became a state in 1850. Ojai soon became a hotspot for oil drilling, attracting more settlers to the area.
The rush to Ojai’s natural resources didn’t stop there. Settlers discovered the nearby Matilija hot springs, and soon Ojai’s first resort was built. The resort expedited development, including the construction of churches, schools, and additional lodging. Ojai continued to grow and was officially incorporated in 1921.
Ojai experienced many changes over the years, but the natural geography of the area has consistently remained the soul of the city. Today, Ojai’s history still lives in the city, with Spanish-style architecture lining the streets and descendants of the Chumash still living in the valley.
What Makes Ojai Special?
Ojai is truly a place like no other, and we’re not just saying that because it’s special to us. As you peruse the streets of Ojai, you might notice that there’s not a single chain restaurant, store, or hotel in sight. That’s because the city of Ojai has an ordinance in place banning chain establishments to preserve the small-town charm found throughout the city. Small businesses line the streets, offering unique experiences you can’t find anywhere else.
The aforementioned landscape of Ojai provides one-of-a-kind sunsets that locals nicknamed “pink moments.” Because the valley is located east to west rather than north to south, the sun hits the eastern mountains at an angle that drenches them in an enchanting pink glow. The ample mountain vistas provide endless viewpoints to soak in the beauty of this natural anomaly. California might be known for its sunsets on the beach, but pink moments are the hidden gem of the state.
This magical phenomenon inspired us to create a beverage that enhances everyday moments, just like a beautiful sunset. Our botanical booch is crafted with original flavors that awaken the senses and come alive to embellish any occasion. Each drink holds some of Ojai’s magic in each drop.
To ensure the preservation of the surrounding landscape, Ojai officials prioritize environmentally conscious legislation, such as their 2012 ordinance prohibiting the use of single-use plastic shopping bags. This ordinance promotes the use of reusable bags, which reduces waste and limits the possibility for a bag to end up in the nearby Los Padres National Forest and harm local wildlife.
Every year, the town comes together to celebrate everything that makes Ojai special during Ojai Day. The event features local vendors, entertainment, and art. It’s the perfect culmination of the unique history and culture of this Californian city.
Experience Ojai’s Culture
There’s no shortage of incredible experiences to savor in Ojai.
Start With a Hike
A hike through the nearby Los Padres National Forest is a beautiful way to begin your morning. With ample hiking trails, there’s something for every skill level. Some trails lead to majestic waterfalls and mountaintops certain to make your jaw drop.
You might even be lucky enough to spot a California condor, North America’s largest bird and one of the most endangered species on the planet.
Enjoy a Museum About Local History
If hiking isn't your thing, check out the Ojai Valley Museum for an indoor option to experience the local landscape. The museum offers exhibits on the history of Ojai and the local wildlife that calls the valley home.
Explore the Town
After reconnecting to nature, head back into town to explore the local businesses that can only be found in Ojai. Grab some lunch at one of the many one-of-a-kind eateries — Kate’s Bread and Farmer and the Cook are some of our top picks — and keep an eye out for our brews on the drink menus!
After eating, stop by an art gallery, farmers’ market, or one of the specialty gift stores scattered throughout downtown. Some of our favorite spots in downtown Ojai include Bart’s Books, the Human Arts Gallery, Serendipity Toys, and Rains of Ojai.
Reflect on Your Day With Some Meditation
Finish off the evening with a sunset meditation at Meditation Mount, a nonprofit meditation center located in the mountains of Ojai. Take the evening to reflect and enjoy a beautiful view of a pink moment. Guided sunset meditations are offered on select days, and the grounds are open until sunset for private meditation.
Check Out the Nightlife
If that wasn’t enough activity for one day, you can go back into town and experience Ojai’s nightlife. There are plenty of bars to visit and drinks to try (Might we suggest some hard kombucha?) Once you’ve gotten your fix of adventure, head back to a locally-owned hotel and settle in for the night.
Supporting Ojai With The Embers Foundation
Although Ojai is blessed with a gorgeous natural landscape, nature sometimes comes with less-than-ideal surprises. Southern California has struggled with wildfires across the centuries, and climate change has recently added to the severity of these natural disasters. In 2017, just as we began to craft our first brews, the Thomas Fires threatened to destroy everything we had created and our Ojai home.
Today, we brew all of our beverages with gratitude. Through our nonprofit, The Embers Foundation, 1% of all sales are dedicated to supporting firefighters, first responders, and the communities that they serve. We focus our donations on the three “Rs” — not reduce, reuse and recycle (although we’re a big fan of those) — but rewild, respond, and recover.
Rewilding refers to our commitment to preventing wildfires by supporting the surrounding ecosystems. Some of these initiatives include planting trees and cleaning trash from waterways.
Response programs aid first responders and affected communities during times of crisis. We assist with providing survival supplies, such as food, water, and first responder equipment.
Recovery efforts focus on the long-term wellness of first responders, providing the necessary tools to help alleviate the mental health stressors that come with protecting our planet and people.
Our home of Ojai has inspired us to lower our carbon footprint and brew beverages that reflect our appreciation for nature. When you choose our drinks from the shelves, you’re also choosing to support our planet and those who protect it. Now that’s a sip worth celebrating.