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. Click on the button below to learn more about The Prisoner and Prison Reform.
SENIOR 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.
DIRECTOR OF WINEMAKING
Todd Ricard graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Wine & Viticulture from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. He learned the ins and outs of the winemaking process hands-on as a cellar worker during his internship at Le Cuvier Winery in Paso Robles. After the internship, Todd accepted an assistant winemaker role at the winery and began to see the shape of his future in the business. "I realized how much care and work goes into crafting wines that truly represent a sense of place. That really struck a chord with me,” comments Todd.
Armed with a solid foundation in the industry, Todd joined the Wild Horse Winery team as a cellar worker and laboratory technician in 2010. Three years of hard work and dedication later, he was promoted to assistant winemaker, and then promoted again to senior winemaker in 2016. After briefly serving as winery manager at Castoro Cellars, Todd joined The Prisoner Wine Company and is now the Director of Winemaking. His prior experience creating a diversity of wines at Wild Horse Winery and Castoro Cellars prepared him well for The Prisoner Wine Company’s multi-varietal blends.
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.