Results of the 2023 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)

Orange Wine

Category Overview by Judge Janet Dorozynski, PhD, DipWSET

(Jump straight to the medal winners.)

Orange wine, also known as skin fermented or skin contact wines are a relatively new category and style of wine in Canada. While produced in countries like Georgia for millennia, and more recently in Slovenia and the Friuli Collio region of Italy, orange wines have been part of the Canadian wine scene for just over a decade and a separate category at the National Wine Awards of Canada since 2018.

Orange wines are made from white grapes fermented on their skins and seeds like the process used for red wine making. The extended maceration imparts both a different colour and textural component and body to the wines with the best orange wines having the structure of a red wine with the refreshing qualities we tend to associate with white wines. Colours range from pale to medium deep orange, amber and even gold, with some wines being hazy. They often have discernible tannins and aromas and umami flavours of dried fruit, steeped black tea, nuts, hoppy beer and even bruised apples, which may be an acquired taste.

These wines are neither defined nor regulated in many countries. South Africa became the first country to define skin-contact wines as skin-macerated white wines in 2015. Ontario created a definition in 2017. In order to label and be certified by Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario, orange wines must be made from white grape varieties that are fermented on skins for a minimum of 10 days. In British Columbia, the British Columbia Wine Authority under the Province’s “Wines of Marked Quality Regulation” regulates orange wine as a subset of white wine.

There were 20 orange wine entries this year from British Columbia and Ontario with an almost even medal split between the two provinces. It is clear that improvements and experimentation continues along with some new entrants to the category.


Deep Roots 2022 Rhododendron Pinot Gris, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Orofino 2022 Orange , Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
Plot 2022 It’s Nice Skin Contact Blend, British Columbia
Plot 2022 Orange No. 4, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Arrowleaf 2021 Skin Fermented Riesling, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Creekside 2022 Undercurrent Madame Marmalade , Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Organized Crime 2021 Sacrilege, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Redstone Winery 2021 Skin Fermented White, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Stratus 2021 Viognier Skin Fermented White, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario