"I came away from that experience with the unshakable belief that if you put your emphasis on the vineyard, what follows is much easier," he says. "The vineyard is everything."
Most of Phinney’s time is spent exploring vineyard sites, meeting with growers and selecting the fruit that will be vinified and blended into The Prisoner. His method for vineyard selection includes assessing the site, soil, varietal, grower and provenance, or the history, of the vineyard.
"Sometimes one of these aspects is enough, other times it's a combination of a few of these elements," he says. "With provenance, looks can be deceiving, so you have to trust in the track record of a vineyard as opposed to what you see. Occasionally you step into a vineyard and can't get to your phone fast enough to call the grower and lock up the grapes. Those experiences are one of a kind."