by | Feb 23, 2021 | Orange, Wine Reviews | 1 comment




Lately, I haven’t been able to get enough orange wines. Could orange be the new black for wines today? I remember a time when I was a new student in my studies of wine, professional wine insiders would turn their nose up at the thought of an orange wine passing their lips. We have all been flooded like Noah’s ark with seas of Rose production by celebrities this summer. However, Orange wines are serious business today and have ancient historical significance than Rose wines. These wines can effortlessly transition from hot summer days to cool autumn evenings,  quietly sliding into chilly winter nights and guaranteed to be your new spring crush this year and years after. They lately have had a facelift, with a personality that’s flattering, flirtatious, mysterious, and complex!


 Orange wine makes you think of a cocktail gone wrong, but this was how white wine was made centuries ago. Some priest, “perhaps”, had a little too much wine during his hail marys, and left the white grapes on their skins too long. The amount of time left on their skins will have a DEFINITE effect on the resulting style of wine. Less time depending on the grape, results in refreshing, ripe baked juicy stone fruit; extensive time on skins is like ripe stone fruit left on the kitchen counter too long during stifling summer months. The latter may seem foul, but giving the wines longer time on their skins contributes another whole new Dimension of flavors. I almost feel Star Trekie right now! 

With all that said, my latest Orange Wine crush is Bannister Riesling 2018. The grapes are sourced from what I like to call the most “SPECULATIVE” AVA of all the United States…COLE RANCH in Mendocino, CA. It’s home to some of the most beautiful Pacific coastline in the US!


First, I must set the record straight on confusing labeling facts and online claims. Cole Ranch IS the smallest SINGLE OWNED AVA  of 150 acres since 1983. Then, there’s Happy Canyon in Santa Barbara County, CA since 2009, IS currently the smallest AVA in the US, but with MULTIPLE vineyards/ winery ownerships. On the bottle it states Bannister, but you quickly get excited to see Cole Ranch, and think it’s just another label by the owners of Cole Ranch….It’s not!. Rather There are only a handful of winery owners that are allowed to source their grapes from this acclaimed Monopole AVA. Bannister is like one of the “Qs“ that have access to The Cole Ranch Property of approximately 150 acres.


Cole Ranch is the smallest AVA SINGLE monopole in the United States period. What makes this AVA so unique is that it has a curious microclimate. I’d like to tell you it has an unusual soil for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and planted by the last owner, Riesling grapes; there ISN’T! Soils ARE diverse but not different: Limestone for Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon on gravel areas, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on loam, all the same on their home turf.

  The Cole Ranch Appellation was chiseled out by original pioneer owner, John Cole in May 1983. John believed the micro atmosphere of this piece of oak crowded land was special for success. John Cole must have truly envisioned in his dreams, fantastical views looking off to the Hopland Hills and Russian River Valley to the east, and the Anderson Valley and the Pacific Ocean to the west like his galaxy. Here, the climate and soils have concentrated into a microclimate like a vortex,  embracing these five grapes. Cole planted the varieties he liked to drink, minus Riesling. Like most passionate people, he made wines not for the masses but for his pleasurable intake.  He sold most of the fruit to neighboring wineries, like Bannister winery who came into the picture in 1989.

Today, some of the oldest vines on the ranch are Riesling, thanks to the Sterling Family who then purchased the renowned AVA in 1996. The family of four sons, mama, and patriarch Murio of Esterlina Winery in Philo, CA are extraordinary, whose focus was Riesling. They were the largest African American Vineyard/ Winery owners in the US for a long time. Their wines were requested by US Presidents and admired by consumers alike. Hard times, unfortunately, came their way, (irrelevant to this article)……


Therefore at present, the 3rd owner is “WinE-Entrepreneur” (Epicurean Angel made up term!), Mike Lucia. He’s been a Veteran winemaker in Northern California since the ’90s, beginning working harvest as a teenager. As the owner and producer of multiple wine brands including Rootdown, Es Okay and he is today the owner of the  “First Flight” of all, the purchase of Cole Ranch AVA in 2020!

This bottle of  Riesling was fermented on the skins and then remained on the skins for ten days of extended maceration. This gave the wine a fierce fiery color of orange tones as well as more of the umami Oriental spice that Riesling is known for in California. They apply full Malo-lactic fermentation which gives it balance against the intensity of the extracted skin tannins. Early flavor profiles of this Riesling are Quince, Pomello, tart apple, and allspice. It continues to evolve just like most Riesling With bottle aging. It’s a wine for ALL seasons and palates!


 An “orange wine” made with Riesling? It sounds radical like something the Vulcans would drink! But this wine is made for you by Mama Marty Bannister and the force, son Brook Bannister. Located in Healdsburg, Bannister Wines have a lot of enological experience and a lot of experimental style expertise with wines because of Brook. The Bannister label is no newcomer to producing wine in Northern California. They began their love affair of wine in Sonoma County in 1973 with wife/husband Marty and Gary Bannister, with a focus on Pinot Noir. Brook now is making pristine Rieslings folded into many styles sourced from one of the most famously sought after AVA in the US, Cole Ranch. The legacy continues……


“Quoted by William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk…the final frontier

What’s your CYBORG  wine?


Ciao! Hope you enjoyed my article please comment below Love your feedback.
Thank you and remember Taste Small Live Big!
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