Let’s Talk About Orange Wine

A friend posted about orange wine on Instagram saying she hates to do so because the term leads many to ask her if it’s made from oranges. Sure, it’s not your garden variety wine but it’s been made for thousands of years. Perhaps we need to talk about orange wine?

I remember when I had my first orange wine from Washington. Gah! It was not for me. You know how when you make a cup of tea and accidentally let it steep too long and the aromatics are like *kapow*? Then, each sip leaves you with kitty cat tongue. Yeah, that’s what it was like. Subsequently, I tried one from another producer. Hmmm, better I thought. Then, I had the good fortune to travel to Slovenia and experience orange wine the way it was meant to be. There it is typically crafted from the Rebula grape, often spending months in large vessels. It was just right! Food friendly, too.

As winemakers here in the United States gain more experience crafting orange wines, I’m finding more to my taste. Here are some recent highlights from Washington state and beyond.

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Washington’s White Wines for the Adventurous

If you’re part of the “Anything But Chardonnay” crowd, grab a glass and take a journey through an exotic landscape filled with flourishing blossoms and their enticing perfume, along with captivating textures. Close your eyes, tip your head back, then surrender to the bright flavors swirling around. Without further ado, here are seventeen of Washington’s white wines for the adventurous along with some reliable producers.

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Celebrate Earth Day with the Slow Wine Guide USA

How about a glass of wine to celebrate Earth Day? In keeping with the theme, be sure it’s from an eco-friendly producer. How do you know whether a winery uses sustainable practices? If you ask Esther Mobley, Senior Wine Critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, “The best resource I can recommend is the Slow Wine Guide.”

It was my privilege to conduct 17 interviews in Washington and Oregon for the Slow Wine Guide USA 2023. Each winery entry provides a snapshot of the people, the vineyards, and wines.

Top Slow Wine Awards

When I received my author’s copy it was a thrill to see that two of the wineries I wrote about are among recipients of Slow Wine’s top award for their dedication to greener farming practices. This includes Bethel Heights Vineyard, one of Oregon’s pioneering wineries. In Washington, Hedges Family Estate achieved this special recognition.

Celebrate Earth Day and Learn More About Slow Wine

I’ve previously written about what Slow Wine means and why it matters as well as which Washington wineries attained Slow Wine Awards last year.

The Slow Wine Guide USA 2023 is $25 a copy. Purchases made directly from the Slow Food USA Bookshop help support ongoing work. This isn’t just a terrific resource for buying wine, it’s been helpful to me when planning trips to wine country.

Find more pictures and back stories about some of the wineries on my Instagram account including my tour of the Hors Categorie Vineyard of famed Bionic Wines (aka Cayuse), where Syrah vines grow on a 65 degree slope. Their biodynamic practices previously earned them Slow Wine’s top accolades.

Discover the Pecorino grape in my write up about a master class offered during the 2020 Slow Wine Tour.

Want to hear more about Washington wine and wineries in the guide? I was interviewed by Scott Cowan for the Explore Washington State podcast. Give it a listen!

About the Author

The founder of VinoSocial.wine, Nancy coaches wineries and wine regions on social media practices and provides marketing services. A graduate of the Northwest Wine Academy and a Certified Specialist of Wine, she works with wineries, wine regions, event producers, and wine competitions. In addition to writing for the Slow Wine Guide USA, her work has been published by Explore Washington State and Washington Tasting Room Magazine. She serves as Vice President of Seattle Urban Wineries.

A Simple Guide to Buying Wine

Isn’t shopping for wine a bit like visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? Pass through the entrance and sense feelings of wonder and awe. How could there be so many choices? The wine, like a seemingly endless river of chocolate, brings on conflicting feelings of childlike joy and overwhelm! Caution should be exercised so that a lack of self-control doesn’t lead to catastrophe.

It’s a lot to cope with, I know. In order to maintain a sense of decorum AND not overspend, it’s a good idea to have a plan and stick to your mission. To that end, here is a simple guide to buying wine.

Begin with a Show of Restraint

My wine shopping strategy begins with a modicum of restraint. I take a bag to the shop that holds 6 bottles and make a pact with myself not to purchase more wine than the bag can carry. This is good for the budget and limited storage space.

Shop with Dinner in Mind

Next, I make a mental list of what types of wines we could use with dinner. What’s on the menu? I reflect on memories of travel and celebrations around the table. Then take some time pondering about what types of value wines might be of interest – are certain regions calling me?

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From Slow Wine to Fun Wine Itineraries in Seattle

They’re here! If you’re curious about wineries with a sustainable focus, or interested in Seattle’s wine scene, my recent writing projects are now published.

Slow Wine Guide 2023

The secret is out! How do you find wines that are crafted with sustainable practices such as using grapes that are farmed without synthetic pesticides & herbicides? Get a copy of the Slow Wine Guide USA! The 2023 edition is now available.⁠

I had the pleasure of interviewing 17 winemakers in Washington and Oregon for this edition, helping to grow the Pacific Northwest’s presence in this outstanding resource. It’s a true honor to spend time with these front runners as they walk me through their vines and pour their wines. ⁠

The guide may be ordered online via the Slow Food site.

Explore Seattle’s Urban Wineries in Pioneer Square and West Seattle

As a volunteer board member for Seattle Urban Wineries, I’ve been making the rounds to local tasting rooms. These day trips have inspired my latest articles on Explore Washington State.

If you think the only attraction worth visiting in Pioneer Square is the Underground Tour, think again! Three fantastic tasting rooms are within half a mile of each other. Plus, I share some insider recommendations for top places to eat, get coffee, peruse art, and shop. Get the whole run down on “Spending a Day in Pioneer Square.”

Go Wine Tasting in West Seattle

If you haven’t been to West Seattle since the bridge reopened, it’s time! Plan a day to explore three intimate tasting rooms along a one and a half mile stretch along California Avenue Southwest. Then discover some of the best eats in the neighborhood recommended by a resident winemaker.

Read the article, “Spending a Day Wine Tasting in West Seattle.”

There you have it, from slow wine to fun wine Itineraries in Seattle. For more wine travel inspiration see my itinerary for “Two Wine Soaked Days in Walla Walla,” or “How to Spend a Day in Woodinville Wine Country.”