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The world of wine is changing quickly, and perceptions are changing too as to what a winery can or should be. Orin Swift, a small, independent but internationally-minded winery from Napa Valley, California, is proving just where the future of wine-making might lie. No longer is it the exclusive preserve of ancestral homes and murky chateaus, or merely carried out by old men with serious expressions - wine for the twenty-first century is something fun, something fashionable, and something to be enjoyed by all without airs and graces, or bewildering language printed on complicated labels.
Orin Swift was started by David Swift Phinney, who first fell in love with wine during a year of travelling and studying he spent in Florence in the 1990’s. Inspired by the passion and fervour he saw in the Italian winemakers, he decided he wanted to throw himself into this world, and set about building a company which he named after his mother’s maiden name, and his father’s middle name. Despite this moniker, though, this was entirely his own vision, and before long he had set up his own winery in St. Helena, California, where he began exploring winemaking for himself.
Orin Swift is unusual in many ways. The winery is full of custom made skateboards, to start with, each printed with the company’s unique imagery that has become a powerful part of the brand, cementing the idea that Orin Swift wine is wine for a new generation of wine enthusiasts, uninterested in the weight of history and pretension that kept so many people away for so long. Today, Orin Swift is an organisation run by a group of friends, keen to keep things open and fun, and yet make no compromise on quality. Alongside the land in Napa Valley, where many of the US’s finest wines hail from, Orin Swift also has vineyards in the south of France, in Italy, on the island of Corsica and in Argentina - meaning this is a truly international project designed to take the best of viticulture from around the world, and bring the finest produce together in California, where the boldness and forward-thinking attitudes of the American wine industry shine the brightest.