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Get Your Tickets: Take Two with Dave Phinney at the Orin Swift Tasting Room June 23, 2024. Book Now.

Orin Swift Story

A BRIEF TIMELINE
OF ORIN SWIFT
BY DAVE PHINNEY

10 years ago we first opened our doors and invited old and new friends to join us for a drink. This year, we’re excited to invite you next door as we open our expanded and reimagined tasting experience building on all that we’ve learned from the past decade.  In a historic bank building in downtown St. Helena, we’ve designed a space to bring you into our world. Thoughtful details and raw materials compliment four new tasting experiences: Rock, Paper, Scissors, and The Vault. From casual to curated, our new tasting room is the perfect introduction to OSC, and the only place for ride-or-die fans to enjoy personalized deep dives.

1996 — FLORENCE (ITALY)
+ Dave goes abroad for a semester.
+ Picks up smoking.

+ Meets wine—falls in love.


1996 — CALIFORNIA (USA)

+ Dave heads back to the States.

+ Quits smoking ( it’s cooler in Europe).
+ Works as an unpaid intern (before people realized that was a terrible idea),
helps plant a vineyard.
1997 — NAPA CALIFORNIA (USA)
+ Dave graduates (barely).
+ Moves to Napa, is the only white guy in an all-Mexican cellar.        
+ Learns defensive Spanish. Also: how to make wine.

Abstract
1998
+ Founds Orin Swift Cellars

– First wine: sucks.

1999

+ Second wine: much better.

2000
+ More attempts, more wine. Dave mixes a bunch of the good stuff together to produce his first big hit: The Prisoner.
+ Realizes it’s better to be lucky than good.

2001
+ Slaps a dime on a bottle of cab (heads).
Government said it was OK—have the fax to prove it.
– Knot: tied it.

2003
+ Has a daughter.

2004
+ Has a son.

2006
+ Knot: challenged.

2007
+ New Release: Papillon. A “long story,” according to Dave—basically
named by his daughter.

2008
+ Prisoner: the wine label Dave sold.
+ In Prison: the guy who bought it.

2010
+ New Releases: Abstract and Machete. Re: the name “Machete”: Dave’s not a bad guy,
but the man who’s now in jail—see above—was trying to screw him so
Dave wanted to fucking destroy him… at the time.

Tasting Room

2014

+ Dave opens up an official Tasting Room in St. Helena.

+ Stops running illegal tastings out of the office.

2016
+ Orin Swift begins (they hope) a lifelong partnership with the Gallo family. None of the Gallos are or have ever been in prison.

Today
+ Knot: still tied.
+ Daughter: badass water polo player.

+ Son: taller than Dave.

Plans for Tomorrow
+ Knot: keep it tied.
+ Wine: keep punching and over-delivering at every level so Dave doesn’t have
to go on the road.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WITH DAVE PHINNEY

Who is ‘Orin Swift’?
Orin Swift is not a person. The name comes from Dave’s father’s middle name, Orin, and his mother’s maiden name, Swift.

Who is Dave Phinney?
Dave Phinney is a person. He’s our founder, winemaker, creative director, and artistic force behind every bottle we produce. Check out his recent profile in Wine Spectator.

When was Orin Swift created?
Orin Swift was established in 1998.

How did Orin Swift come to be? + get into winemaking?

Though Dave grew up in California, it was in Italy where his obsession began. In 1995, what was originally billed as a semester studying abroad, turned into an immersion on all aspects of wine. By 1997, Dave was all in and landed his winery job at Robert Mondavi as a temporary harvest worker. He learned a lot, including that he wanted to make his own wine. The next year, with two tons of zinfandel and not much else, Orin Swift Cellars was born.

TASTING ROOM
1321 MAIN ST.
ST. HELENA, CA

We welcome you to stop by and visit us at our tasting room located in downtown St. Helena.

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