ABOUT THE PRISONER
When our first wine, The Prisoner, was released two decades ago as a complex blend of some of California’s best and most unusual grape varieties, it swiftly and permanently changed the perception of what a red blend wine could be.
Since then, we’ve grown to include a range of rule-bending blends with provocative label designs, being recognized by fans and wine critics alike as one of the most bold and innovative wine brands in the market, leading the resurgence of California luxury red blends and earning “cult” wine status.
Today, our Director of Winemaking Chrissy Wittmann and her team work with over 100 growers in northern California, bringing together exceptional fruit to produce a family of intriguing wines unrestricted by tradition. The Prisoner Wine Company is located on the legendary Highway29 in Napa Valley and welcomes visitors year-round for unexpected, immersive experiences.
Our brand name and flagship label were inspired by an etching titled Le Petit Prisonnier by 19th century Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Its subtitle translates to “the custody is as barbaric as the crime”. The sketch is part of Goya’s series The Disasters of War, created as a visual protest to the injustice and brutality of the Spanish War of Independence in 1808. From our founding, The Prisoner Wine Company has stood against oppression while embracing creativity. Fighting injustices in our society, especially those tied to our prison and policing systems, is indelibly etched into our identity and a focus of our commitment as an organization. At The Prisoner, we know that the problems in the U.S. prison system are ingrained, nuanced, and seemingly intractable. We also believe that change can happen and that it starts with conversation, collaboration, and creativity.
Learn more about The Prisoner & Prison Reform below.
THE PRISONER & PRISON REFORM
We are acutely aware of the responsibility we have in using The Prisoner’s platform to drive awareness and action, and below are some of the steps we’ve taken.
- We have increased our investment in education, behavioral change, and hiring practices to create greater representation, access to opportunities, and fair treatment for all at The Prisoner Wine Company and within the wine industry.
- Last year, we began a partnership with NBA player Moe Harkless on a joint commitment in support of bail and incarceration reform, including support of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and his organization, Black Lives Now. This spring, we are announcing joint support of The Liberty Fund, New York City’s first citywide charitable bail fund providing pretrial detention relief and social services to all city residents unable to post bail for misdemeanor charges.
- Constellation Brands, our parent company, is approximately halfway through a $1M pledge over 5 years to the Equal Justice Initiative.
- This year, we are collaborating with artist Chris Burnett to debut an annual series of limited edition wines entitled Corrections. The proceeds from this direct-to-consumer drop will go to Rubicon Programs.
Since 1973, Rubicon Programs has provided essential services to narrow gaps in wellness and economic mobility for communities living in poverty and disproportionately impacted by systems of inequity. Rubicon provides job training and placement, financial education, behavioral health, legal services, and other essential re-entry and workforce development resources to low-income people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that support eliminating poverty and promoting social justice. Today, Rubicon operates seven program sites in Antioch, Concord, Hayward, Oakland, and Richmond.
Through direct services and advocacy efforts, Rubicon collaborates with justice impacted individuals and families. While justice impacted communities are supported throughout our work, four of our programs prioritize the needs of those impacted by the justice system.
- The Prisoner is partnering with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) for the premiere of the NBPA’s Game Change Game documentary at Tribeca Film Festival in June 2022.
- Game Change Game is a powerful look that takes viewers inside during the unprecedented 2020 NBA season, where a social justice reckoning played out across the globe and 450 players came together to use their collective power and influence to become advocates against police brutality and systemic racism.
- We are inspired by the athletes' decision to take a stance and leverage their careers as a platform to drive change. The Prisoner is proud to partner with the NBPA and its members to amplify the united response shown in the film, keeping the fight against systemic racism and calls for justice at center court.
- Our partnership with the NBPA is just one way The Prisoner is working toward social and racial equality and amplifying voices committed to a more just and inclusive society.
Director of Winemaking
Chrissy Wittmann came to winemaking in an unconventional way. After earning a B.S. in Ecology and Systematic Biology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, the future winemaker found her love for wine while analyzing soil and waste water samples in a lab. After serving time as a laboratory enologist, Chrissy returned to Cal Poly, achieving her master’s degree in Agriculture.
Brett Young grew up in Lodi, home to many of California’s oldest Zinfandel vineyards. With a clear passion for the kitchen, he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York City. From there he worked in diverse kitchens such as The Ritz-Carlton Millennia in Singapore, Mix Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa Valley, all of which shaped his thinking about all things food, wine and exceptional hospitality.
The Prisoner Wine Company is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of winemaking. Our partners in this vision are phenomenal growers throughout California’s premier growing regions who are dedicated to cultivating unique grape varieties. Through them, we source fruit from more than 100 vineyards across the state.