Orange wines, while not at all new in the world of viticulture, have grown in popularity in recent years, offering a refreshing drink for those grown tired of oft-tragically traditional reds and whites. Orange wine is made from white wine grapes that are produced as if the varietals were making a red wine: the grape skin is kept in contact with the juices, in some cases for just a handful of days and others for up to a full years, resulting in a liquid that varies from light yellow to slightly gray-orange and even tropical orange in color. Stay on-trend this fall — or just to sip while decorating for Halloween — and savor one of these unique Northwest wines.
Johan Vineyards Estate “Drueskall” Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley || The Drueskall, which means “grape” in Norwegian, is 100 percent Pinot Gris that undergoes a lengthy vinification process resulting in a salmon-hued wine. The duration of skin contact in the fermentation process ranges from 10-30 days before the grapes are pressed and sent to age for 15 months without sulfur to encourage wild flavors to emerge. The result is an unfiltered wine hinting at aromas of vanilla, peaches and vinegar.
Big Table Wines 2016 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley || Made in the style of a dry white wine, this wine has been in production since 2010 and has kept drinkers coming back for more. On top of fermenting on the skins and stems of the fruit, it goes through maloloactic fermentation, and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. Full-bodied, with fruity flavors, plenty of texture, salinity and structure, the fresh sip is perfect for pairing with seafood.
Savage Grace 2016 Gewürztraminer, Orange Oak Ridge Vineyard, Columbia Gorge || This naturally floral and fragrant white wine is aged on the skins for 12 days at this Woodinville, Washington, winery. The extended skin contact brings out aromas of tropical fruit, orange peel and spiced minerality. Dry but rich and silky on the palate, this wine might be best on the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Montinore 2015 L’Orange, Willamette Valley || Carefully created in the corner of the vineyard where whites are delicately kept in vessels, L’Orange from Montinore is a coral-accented treat. Its nose is infused with baking spice, honeysuckle, pink grapefruit and persimmon that commingle on the acid-driven palate. Full of citrus, spice and everything nice, the result is a wine perfect for sipping on at the end of a long day.
Sage Hills 2016 Rhymes With Orange, Okanagan Valley || A fresh take on the ancient process of keeping Pinot Gris grapes in contact with the skin culminates in a strawberry toned wine. The wine is full-bodied, bold in tannin and flavors of smoke, spice and tropical fruits. The strong wine goes well with equally bold flavors like flavorful curries and Middle Eastern masterpieces.
Stag‘s Hollow 2016 Vidal Orange Wine, Okanagan Valley || This dry wine is amber in its tint and easy to sip on. It starts off with a nose suggesting citrus, marmalade and English tea. The palate has herbal notes and good volume as a result of tannins. Unfiltered and unfined, the wine boasts fruity flavors and a fresh take on orange wine’s reemergence into the spotlight.