We're not going to pretend that we'd heard much about the Indie Darling of the Wine World, but this organic Grenache Blanc "Orange Wine" by AmByth Estate in Templeton, CA was unexpectedly delightful.
"Orange Wine" may be the hot topic among wine aficionados, but it's hardly mainstream due to the artisanal process.
According to natural winemakers Mary and Phillip at Ambyth, "Orange Wine" means letting the freshly crushed juice ferment on the skins, seeds, and stems — giving it an orange hue with great tannins. They use native yeast fermentation until dry, aging in 50/50 neutral oak barrels and stainless steel. The latest release (2011) is from Martian Ranch, but we were lucky enough to catch the current harvest fermentation.
AmByth Estate is the first and only winery in the Paso Robles region to produce Demeter certified Biodynamic wines. To make matters even more complex, the property is 100% dry-farmed on steep hillsides. In addition to the 20 acres of vineyards, the diverse estate includes 600 olive trees, 100 fruit and nut trees, a herd of dairy cows, a variety of free range chickens, 2 bee hives, and very happy dogs.
As major food manufacturers continue to debate and dilute the meaning of natural in advertising, it's refreshing to meet a team that is knowledgeable and passionate about their range of wines. We love how these small vintners are leveraging multiple trends (natural, sustainable, biodynamic, organic, healthy, artisanal) to create a unique product that will appeal to a variety of demographics.