Meet Orfila’s New Winemaker, Andrew Wisniewski

Frank and I were thrilled to meet Orfila Vineyards’ newest winemaker, Andrew Wisniewski, who has been on board the winery since April 2021.

However, in terms of winemaking, Wisniewski has just completed last year’s cycle of overseeing the estate’s viticulture as well as fruit sourcing and is still in the process of finishing wines for 2021, making it “new “.

Wisniewski shared that he was grateful and thankful for the solid framework of former winemaker and Orfila general manager Justin Mund.

When asked how Wisniewski got into the wine business, he replied, “After attending Univ. from central Florida for biochemistry, I was at a crossroads of being a chemist or (?)…influenced by my mother who was a fine wine store manager in my youth and completed an internship in wine, I was addicted to wine and I chose the route des vignerons.

Between Florida and Escondido’s Orfila, Wisniewski traveled the world to build his career in Australia, New Zealand, Oregon (Dundee Hills), Washington (Columbia Valley) and California (Central Coast). He also completed training at the Northwest Wine Studies Center for Enology & Viticulture in Chemeketa.

During the interview, Wisniewski enjoyed hearing Mangio’s story about walking the vineyards of Orfila with original winemaker Leon Santoro. Santoro is widely credited with putting San Diego County on the international wine map and being the first in the region to recognize the potential of Rhône-style wines.

Currently, over 40 acres of the Orfila estate are planted with the following Rhone grape varieties – Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot, Montepulciano, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. To date, Orfila has been recognized with over 1,300 awards, including international competitions where Santoro has represented Orfila.

Based on Wisniewski’s winemaking methodology with a minimalist style of letting the vines speak for themselves, I suspect Orfila will continue to rack up awards under his leadership.

“I intentionally make wines to work with food,” he said. “The wine must have soul, characteristics, texture and aromas that make the bouquet and palate memorable and authentic to the vineyard.”

Part of Wisniewski’s seamless approach is the use of native yeast, a process where a small number of grapes are picked, crushed, and allowed to develop into yeast for inoculation into the same varietals for the fermentation process.

Wisniewski likes to use indigenous yeasts for Rhône varietals which have a cooler and longer fermentation than Bordeaux varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, where he typically uses commercial yeast strains for a warmer, shorter inoculation to create more structure and tannins.

Its objective is to be “attuned to the consumer market by making accessible wines that are young, but structured in such a way that aficionados and collectors can keep them in the cellar for years”.

When I asked what was new and coming to Orfila, Wisniewski shared that he was excited about the new water detection system. By using probes in each plot with depth sensors at different depths, they will be able to use less water and have more control over the vines, especially late in the season when vine stress can lead to better results for sugars and physiological maturity.

The other was distributing library wines to Orfila Wine Lovers, or OWLs as they like to call their club members. This will include some 2000 and 2008 vintages.

Like most winemakers, Wisniewski was grateful and appreciative of his team, including cellar master Christian Eckar. This is consistent with Wisniewski’s flat organizing philosophy: “It’s not me, it’s us.” This avoids the winemaker fixing and being too close to the wines.

Eckar held several positions at Orfila before a short hiatus at a winery in the Temecula Valley where he completed an internship. He returned in May 2021 as Wisniewski’s right-hand man and was busy the day of our visit with the clarification stage of the 2021 vintage, which involved racking and siphoning tanks and barrels to leave unwanted precipitates at the bottom before the barreling.

Soon, last year’s vintage will be put into French and American oak barrels for ageing. Mangio and I look forward to future visits to taste Wisniewski and Eckar’s 2021 wines on tap! More information at

wine bytes

– La Fleur’s Winery in San Marcos hosts Alan Iglesias “Semi-Plugged” from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, January 29. Armed with his 12-string Guild, 6-string Martin, and Lanikai uke, Iglesias will play and sing his (and nearly everyone’s) favorite rock hits of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Covers include America, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, Neil Young, Tom Petty, the Eagles, Billy Joel, Johnny Cash and many more. Details about

– Celebrate Valentine’s Day with dinner at Lorimar Vineyards and Winery in the Temecula Valley at 7 p.m. on February 14. Guests will enjoy a romantic four-course prix-fixe dinner for two with a duo of beef tenderloin medallions and shrimp skewers with a bottle of Lorimar wine. $150 per couple / $135 for WC. (21+, taxes and tip not included). See

Frank and Rico are two of the leading commentators on the web. Contact them at [email protected].

Comments are closed.