Orange Wines In Calif..??

We were tasting thru some unusual whites last night, some of which were orange wines. Not sure the exact definition of “orange” wine, but to me it means a white, or gris, wine made w/ some or extended skin contact, instead of just pressing the white juice immediately off the skins.
The big proponents of this technique are, of course, Radikon and Gravner and Movia in Friuli. Their wine generally sell for big $$$'s, which would seem to make the technique much more attractive around the world, not just in Friuli/Slovenia.
Since Friuli/Slovenia is the hotbed for this technique, it seems mostly to be applied to the Friulian grape varieties. But what about its application to other varieties, like GWT (which has a slight pigmentation), Riesling, Chard, CheninBlanc, Vitovska?? Tracey&Jared use it a bit on their Roussanne.
The technique of making orange wines is, of course, a matter of degree. You can use minimal skin contact, a few hrs or a few days, or extended skin contact, a few months or a year, as with Radikon/Gravner. The orange color of these wines supposedly comes from the slight pigmentation the wines pick up from skin contact. I find these wines also, sometimes, have a slight oxidative character. Does that come, hand in hand, from the skin contact…or is it a product of the amphorae aging some of those producers use? Or do they intentionally allow some degree of O2 exposure in the production of orange wines?
There has been some use of the technique in Calif. A few producers come to mind: PaxMahle/WindGap, Tracy&Jared/Donkey&Goat, maybe Duncan&Nathan/Arnot-Roberts. Abe Schoener/Scholium. Any other Calif (or WashState/OR) producers come to mind??
My appreciation of orange wines is sort of a mixed bag. Many of them are just downright weird. Sometimes the oxidative element is just too strong. Sometimes the smell/taste of mouse turds in them is a bit off-putting. But I generally find them most interesting to try. As certain Monktown attourneys claim (in a different context), they are not wines for people who cannot think outside the box.
Anyway, just sorta curious about the subject.

Steve Clifton of Palmina (and Brewer-Clifton) is making a “orange wine” using Friulano. Really interesting stuff. I wrote an article about it for Cork’d a while back if anyone wants more info:" onclick=";return false;

Yep, Palmina Subida is a winner.

Also, there’s the Point Concepcion Celestina, a pink/salmon colored Pinot Grigio. It drinks more like a lighter red wine than a rose. Not really funky or oxidative, though.

Here’s one more…

Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars also makes a Roussanne with extended skin contact - the fruit is sourced from the same vineyard that Donkey & Goat gets theirs. Not sure if he’s released that one yet, but here’s a note from this year’s HdR:
2009 Roussanne, El Dorado County. Tank sample. Made in an “orange wine” style, spent 18 days on the skins. Medium-light color, with pretty floral and orangepeel aromas, plus some stone fruit and spice. Moderately rich mouthfeel with a little tannic bite on the finish, distinctive and very nice.

And as noted, there’s Peter Cargasacchi’s Point Concepcion “Celestina” Pinot Grigio - as I understand it, it’s cold-soaked on its skins but pressed off before fermentation.

In 2008 I did a skin-contact sauvignon blanc that was fermented to dry and pressed off the skins. It has a brassy, orange color and does not look, smell or taste like SB. 20 cases made to be released this coming January.
In 2010 I did the same thing and it is presently finishing up ML in barrel. Anticipated release of January, 2012, with about 160 cases made.
In taste trials I find the aromas and flavors to be pear, all-spice, tonic water, resin and something akin to fresh herbs. The alcohol is low, the acid high, its bone dry, has some noticeable tannin and, overall, is clearly meant to accompany food.
Surprisingly, it seems to go with more dishes then I would have first thought.

I also think that John Kongsgaard is making a full skin-contact ribolla gialla for Vare with most of the production being sold to Thomas Keller’s restaurants.

I recently had the 2009 Arnot-Roberts, ribolla from the Vare vineyard and loved it - but it was not done with skin-contact (or if it was, the contact was minimal).

Best, Jim

Off topic, but does Edi Kante make any orange wines??

Agreed - great bottle of wine. The Wind Gap Trousseau Gris is also a winner, but neither carries the weight or tannins that Gravner, Radikon, and La Stoppa wines bring.

I thought George Vare was making his own wines under his Vare label. I know he’s close with John and they visit Gravner and Radikon annually. When I visited him in his tiny garage sized operation I didn’t get the impression there were any other hands involved.

Tom, I think George is the foremost proponent of this style in CA. He doesn’t do much else and has fashioned his own stand on end barrel with a plexigalss opening as an improvement on the amphorae from the old country. His estate vineyard includes Ribola Gialla among others. Check him out next time you are around.

I have Pete’s Celestina open in the fridge at the moment. It is nothing like a lighter red. For all intents and purpose, it drinks just like a Provencal rose. Tavel tends to be heavier than the Celestina, as a point of reference. Celestina has nice purity. The last Movia I had was also rather clean and rose-like, with perhaps more weight.

My memory is primarily of the '07, which I should have noted. Those I would have put a notch past Tavel on the rosé-o-meter. Odometer readings may vary with respect to more current vintages, as I’d assume you’re probably drinking something closer to the current release. [cheers.gif]


I made one using Viognier this year. Really neat stuff. Will see how it does in barrel - so far great, much more exotic (lots of ginger) and tannins give it a nice grip.

Vino V Wines

The Georgian Republic has some Orange wines being produced. Namely, keep an eye out for Vinoterra. They ferment with skin contact using varieties Kisi, Mtsvane, Rkatsiteli. The Mtsvane is a fantastic wine and really offers complex aromas and flavors.

Agreed Greg, and a bargain compared to the Friulian ones.

Thanks for the update, Michael. I am very curious as to how some of the aromatic whites (Viognier/Riesling/GWT/etc) would come out
when made as an orange wine. Look forward to trying it down the road.


For the NPA, we make / have made three.

-100% Whole Cluster Fermented Chalk Hill Pinot Gris
-100% Whole Cluster Fermented RRV Sauv. Blanc and 100% Skin Fermented Sauv. Blanc (they get blended together).
-100% Skin Fermented Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.

(2010 Pinot Gris back in late Sept- Picked 9/1. About 11.5% alc)