Things are a changing in Californian winemaking. Typically California produces very smooth, very rich and very pretty wines. If they could speak they’d say “have a nice day”. But a few new players are bucking the trend and crafting white wines in a light 'n lean style — very dry, and very refreshing. Wines that will hit the spot in the summer season.

I’m not sure why these winemakers are cutting back on alcohol and obvious prettiness in their wines but I suspect they see a trend for wines that are lighter and more lively. Wines perhaps designed to appeal to young drinkers. Whatever the reason, I’d like to recommend three of these wines because they will be very welcome in the months ahead when thirst-quenching will be a priority. Two of my picks are also good values.

Barefoot is a leader in this movement with a line of wines that feel light on alcohol and richness. They’re mainly about vitality and liveliness, and they sell here for under ten dollars. The Pinot Grigio is a wonderful, citrussy refresher. More upbeat and enthusiastic than most editions of this grape. A great refresher, but could be too wild for late-night party sipping. Or not.

Another Californian brand that’s favouring the light, lean style is Twin Fin. Its Sauv/Sem is also super refreshing but it has with an earthy side that invites food such as BBQ shrimp, chicken or pork. Comes in a screw-capped, plastic bottle that’s handy for picnics or camping. Funny how these plastic bottles seem smaller in portion than glass ones, but they’re not— they still hold 750 ml.

Smoking Loon Chardonnay has the lean, elegant feeling of something out of France. It would be a perfect aperitif for a snazzy dinner. And a good seafood partner too.

Billy Munnelly has been writing about wine for 25 years and is the author of Canada's largest selling wine book, Billy's Best Bottles. Sign up for his free monthly e-letter at