Dave Phinney can make winemaking seem almost effortless. His first wine, The Prisoner, debuted with the 2000 vintage and rocketed to success. A blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and small percentages of Syrah and Charbono, wasn't meticulously planned—as a fledgling winemaker, Phinney used what grapes were available to him. He made 385 cases the first year, labeling it with a Goya etching his parents had given him and selling it for $25 a bottle. The brand hit shelves just as Zinfandel was experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Wine Spectator's MaryAnn Worobiec explains.
From the Apr 30, 2014, issue