8 Microwineries to Explore in the New Year

Featured on January 11, 2022

At the start of each year, your newsfeed becomes a flurry of trend predictions and year-in-review articles. We can’t resist adding our own, with good reason: We encounter so many talented female vintners! Keeping their treasures to ourselves would be just plain greedy.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite independent producers for you to try in the new year. These are wineries that haven’t yet been included our wine club, often because their production is so limited. We encourage you to buy from them directly. Some wines might be hard to find, but you’ll find a thrill in the hunt, not to mention rewards in the bottle.


With 25 years of industry experience now under her belt, Erica Orr first earned her chops in the cellar alongside Cathy Corison, then went on to work stints at Rudd, Cain, and Domaine Dujac. Since 2005, she has been based in Washington State, where she not only produces wines under her own label, but runs a highly successful  winemaking consulting business, regularly racking up 90+ scores for her clients. Vibrant and nuanced,  Orr Wines are primarily fermented with wild yeasts.

Our pick:

2020 Old Vine Chenin Blanc

Columbia Valley AVA

188 Cases


Established in 2013 by Alison Thomson, Lepiane is named for the Calabrian grandfather who inspired in her a deep appreciation of food and wine. With a master’s degree in viticulture from U.C. Davis, Alison went on to fully embrace her Italian heritage by working for one of the world’s top Barolo producers. Now based in Santa Barbara, she continues to make Italian varietal wines, in addition to others such as Grenache and Malvasia Bianca, under the Lepiane label.  You’ll also find Alison in the cellar of Two Wolves, working as co-winemaker and director of operations alongside Alecia Moore (yes, the pop star known as “Pink”).

Our pick:

2019 Rosé of Nebbiolo

Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara County

(85 cases)


In 2011, Shae Frichette moved to Washington State with her husband Greg and invested in the Red Mountain vineyard property that would become Frichette Winery. Launching with 605 cases of wine, the couple now produces 2,000 cases annually. With experience in both theater and corporate leadership development, Shae brings verve and insight to the brand, while Greg leads cellar operations. Shae has also launched a second label, Sashay Wines, offering what she calls “softer, more vibrant, youthful” wines.

Our pick:

2020 Frichette Semillon, Artz Vineyard

Red Mountain AVA


Hailing from a family of winemakers in the Central Coast region, Jessica Gasca found her calling quite naturally. In 2009, she was working a full-time restaurant job when she decided to get her hands dirty and also work harvest with her uncle, winemaker Gary Burk. She never looked back, soon building a strong industry network and finding the confidence to produce her first vintage of Story of Soil wines in 2012. She now runs the winery with her husband, Brady Fiechter, offering 1,500 cases annually of single-vineyard, single-varietal wines that provide thoughtful expressions of Santa Barbara County.

Our pick:

2020 Gamay, Martian Vineyard

Alisos Canyon AVA


In her home of Cote d’Azur-Provence, Eglantine Chauffour grew up amid world-class viticulture. In 2010, she was working harvest in Margaret River, Western Australia, when she met Alberto Bianchi, an Italian-born winemaker and brewer who is now her business partner. In 2014, the two settled settled in Northern California and established their own label, ENA Wines. With a focus on cool-climate Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, ENA wines absolutely exude elegance.

Our pick:

ENA Pinot Noir, Mariah Vineyards

Mendocino Ridge AVA


Founded in 1970 in Sonoma Valley, Ashton Vineyard has decades’ worth of stories to tell. Justine and Stephen Ashton began by hand-grafting 3,000 Pinot Noir vines, later adding a Syrah vineyard. While they sold most of their fruit, they also made some delicious wines of their own. Stephen subsequently passed away; and in 2017, Ashton lost most of their Pinot Noir vineyard in the Nuns Wildfire. Now, the endeavor is reborn with the leadership of its matriarch and daughters Tara, Aurora, and Sarah. (Relatedly: You might have caught rumblings of Chenoa Ashton-Lewis’s spinoff brand, Ashanta, which first used fruit from the family vineyard.) Ashton Vineyard mostly sells library wines, but in 2020, they released a fresh vintage of Rosé  from the surviving 50-year old Pinot Noir vines.

Our pick:

2010 Syrah Artist Series Reserve

Sonoma Valley


Experimentation has been key for the team at Botanist and Barrel, which has production facilities in central North Carolina along with a lively tasting room in Asheville. With a background in restaurant service and sales, co-owner Amie Fields is not only a Master Sommelier, but one of the few pros certified as a USACM Pommelier. Her sister-in-law and business partner, winemaker Kether Smith, was primarily self-taught before pursuing a certificate in cider making from Cornell University. Together with their husbands, Amie and Kether offer dozens of iterations of ciders, piquette, wines, and everything in between. Tasting through their full lineup is a joyful discovery process.

Our pick:

2020 Mourvedre Piquette

Yadkin Valley AVA


Accounting might not be the sexy side of wine, but it’s sure necessary. As the former CFO of iconic Patz & Hall Winery, Brooke Hester is deeply grounded in the financial side of the wine biz. Now, she runs CL Butaud in Austin with her husband, winemaker Randy Hester. Brooke handles the winery’s accounting, finance, and compliance; her husband makes Grenache, Tempranillo, and more from the Texas High Plains. Their outstanding wines, which include a second label called “Frenchy”, have been featured in Forbes, Decanter, and Vinepair.

Our pick:

2019 Mourvedre, Desert Willow Vineyard

Texas High Plains

(100 cases)