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Producer profile: Orin Swift

Inspirational winemaking and groundbreaking presentation led to this Californian producer quickly catching the eye of one of the biggest US wine groups. While its ownership has changed, the creative drive behind the label remains in place.

Since its first vintage release in 1999, Orin Swift Cellars has left an indelible mark on the US wine industry. Founder Dave Swift Phinney made headlines in 2010 for selling (see below) his most famous creation The Prisoner, which has inspired a host of imitators.

Time has proven Phinney’s versatility. In 2016, E&J Gallo bought Orin Swift Cellars’ domestic brands and retained Phinney, who continues to turn out hypnotic labels and modern, stylish wines that consumers can’t seem to get enough of.

Simply put, Dave Phinney has drawn wine drinkers in with his artistically avant-garde labels. His most famous creation is The Prisoner red blend, which bears a phantasmagoric label of a shackled prisoner. There are other bewildering facings, such as the formidable female protagonist on Machete, who is wielding, what else but a machete; and his L’usine labels showing female faces, caked in makeup – a homage to Andy Warhol’s silkscreen portraits of famous women.

Scroll down to see 11 wines from Dave Phinney & Orin Swift

Phinney has said that half of the people who buy wine buy it for the label. His labels instil grand impressions of what’s inside. And labels aside, the wines are well-built, fruit-forward, modern and stylish. The unconventional grape blends have also helped them stand out in a crowded marketplace, as with the first Prisoner wine, and the grapes always come from top growers.

Dave Phinney & Orin Swift: 11 wines to seek out

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