Orange Crush: Revolutionary Friuli producer Radikon after the death of an icon


At the end of this summer, a weakened Stanislao “Stanko” Radikon reflected with his son, Saša, about their family estate and the long, controversial run of his edgy, dark-hued wines made from white grapes.

In the cellar of the family’s hilltop house in Oslavia, Italy, a town of 600 nestled on the Slovenian border, the men talked about how after struggling for years, “The wines are selling. We have no problems. Everything is OK,” recalls Saša, 34.

Then, on Sept. 11, just days before harvest, Stanko Radikon died after a long battle with cancer.

“We never talked about my taking over,” explains Saša, an enologist who worked side by side with his self-taught father for a decade. “In the cellar, it was just me and him. We did everything together, and we spoke about wine all the time.”

Radikon’s death at 62 closed a colorful chapter in the Collio hills of northeastern Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, where Radikon was an iconic pioneer of modern skin-contact “orange wines,” a champion of local varieties like Ribolla Gialla, and a leader in winemaking without added sulfur.

“For me, he was an artist, like Picasso,” says Kristian Keber, 28, of the Edi Keber winery. “He was also important for our terroir.”

Radikon’s work was alternatively perceived as weird or wonderful. It took years for the wines to find a stable audience, and their premier market developed in Japan.

The Radikon family, ethnic Slovenians, has farmed in Oslavia for more than two the full blog at