From their ancient origins in the Caucasus region, orange wines have arrived Up North to smash the autumn duopoly long held by maple trees and pumpkin patches. Visit these Northern Michigan wineries making orange wine on your fall color tour.
What is orange wine?
Orange wines, also known as amber wines or ramato, are so dubbed for the color transfer incurred when white grapes are fermented on their skins. The grapes varieties being used—in our case riesling, chardonnay or pinot gris—and the length of exposure between skin and juice spins off a color spectrum arcing from pale amber to deep copper. Our local Northern Michigan orange wines are dry on the palate and retain the electric acids of their parent grapes but pick up tannins from the skins and seeds that give them a richness and texture akin to lighter red wines like gamay or pinot noir. Aromatically, the wines channel apricot, persimmon, wildflower honey and dried citrus peel, making them ideal pairings for fall flavors like squash, game birds and wild mushrooms.
Sip & Savor Northern Michigan Orange Wines
Local vignerons are letting white wines soak on their skins to delectable effect. Check out these orange wine offerings.
45 North Vineyard & Winery did a limited release of white wines fermented with the grape skins, including pinot gris.
Black Star Farms // Rosé of Pinot Gris 2017
Pink-hued and front-loaded with soft strawberry and melon, Black Star’s Wine Club Selection bottling straddles the border between amber wine and rosé with a soupcon of sweetness in the finish.
45 North Vineyard & Winery // Skin Ferment Chardonnay 2017
A 22-day soak on the skins and 8 months in oak give the chardonnay from 45 North’s new Skin Ferment Series heady brown butter and dried pineapple on the nose and unctuous texture.
Mari Vineyards // Bestiary Ramato 2016
Echoing the style of fellow oeno-mavericks in Northeast Italy, Mari’s winemaker, Sean O’Keefe, skin ferments pinot gris into this mouthwatering manifold expression of plum, red apple and tea leaf.
Shady Lane Cellars // Pomeranz 2017
Shady Lane’s amber incarnation of estate-grown riesling has layers of apricot, orange peel and honey with compelling mid-palate texture balanced against lively acidity.