Led by Winemaker of the Year (2019) David Phinney, Orin Swift offers compelling storytelling through its creative expression of art on every bottle and combines bold flavours with balance and focused sleekness evoked from an assortment of rich grape varietals from Napa Valley.
The history of Orin Swift dates back to 1995 when on a lark, Dave Phinney took a friend up on an offer and went to Florence, Italy to spend a semester “studying.” During that time, he was introduced to wine, how it was made, and got hooked.
A few more years of university led to graduation and eventually a job at Robert Mondavi Winery in 1997 as a temporary harvest worker. Deciding that if he was going to work this hard, it would eventually have to be for himself. In 1998, Dave founded Orin Swift Cellars: Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name.
Dave recalls his first vintage in 1998, which was less than spectacular. “It was a tough harvest, and I bought fruit for the wrong part of a great vineyard. I learned first-hand that experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. The truth is, when it comes to winemaking there are no silver bullets, no secrets. We as winemakers are only as good as our fruit source”.
Today, Orin Swift’s winemaking philosophy remains the same: find the best fruit from the best vineyards. Farm it right, harvest it right, bring it into the winery and don’t screw it up.
It all begins in the vineyard. Based out of Saint Helena, within the prized Napa Valley, Orin Swift features a portfolio of wines that appeal to a variety of senses. It Sourcing for the Orin Swift family takes Dave across the state of California, with a special interest in the Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Santa Barbara. He sets his sights on small lots within the most coveted growing regions while ensuring that only fruit of the highest quality makes it into the final blend.
Each label tells a story created by Dave Phinney brought to life with distinctive artwork and packaging. The wine inside reflects Dave’s affinity for showcasing geographic diversity and his exploration of vineyards around the world and at home in California.
To Dave, “There’s a soul to this business. That soul isn’t just from the people who make wine, it’s everyone who loves wines that make them feel something”.
Impressed by the wines and how the way the brand powerfully connects with consumers, E&J Gallo Winery added Orin Swift to their family of brands in June 2016. Having long admired Phinney and Orin Swift’s innovative blends, expressive wines and imaginative thought-provoking labels, Orin Swift’s addition was much-welcomed.
The harmonious relationship allows Dave to focus on his work in the vineyard, the cellar and the creative packaging. “I’m like a kid in a candy store,” he says. “I’m freed up to do all the things I love. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Dave also says he knows Orin Swift wines are in very good hands. “It’s important to me there’s good stewardship of the brand,” he says. “The philosophy of Orin Swift is to be humble and to over deliver, and that describes Gallo’s philosophy too. There’s not a lot of flash, just a really smart way of doing business. I know that selling wine is the hardest part of this business and we’re putting Orin Swift wines in the hands of people who know what they’re doing.”
“We’re always challenging ourselves. We don’t have competitors - we compete with ourselves. We’ve never made a wine we’re completely satisfied with,” he says. “I’ll be shocked if over the next 2-5 years, we’re making not just a better wine, but appreciably better wine. 2016 is an important vintage and I’m excited about what the future holds.”