Prodigal Wines

Owner(s) Mary Russell, Stephen Russell
Web site
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Stephen and Mary Russell are the propria etors of this new winery. The name “Prodigal” comes from the career path that Stephen Russell has followed. His frank introduction to the wine world came when, after graduating from University California Davis with a degree in enology in 1960, he went to work at Gallo as their first formally-trained enologist. He quickly discovered that corporate winemaking was not his interest. He can wax humorously about his experiences at Gallo. He talks about Hearty Burgundy, the well known red wine composed of Zinfandel, Merlot, and almost anything else that was available at the time. The challenge was to make Hearty Burgundy taste consistently the same despite the fact that the types and sources of grapes varied widely with each vintage. Stephen’s claim to fame at Gallo is that he created a process for carbonization of Ripple!

After a failed attempt to purchase Freemark Abbey, Stephen left the wine industry and returned to school where he obtained his DVM and PhD degrees. He pursued a successful career in cancer research. More recently he advises researches about acquiring research grants from various sources.

In 2001, he decided to do something with his lovely wife, Mary, who had followed him about faithfully through the years. They bought a house and property in the southeast corner of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, and Prodigal Wines was born. The “prodigal son” had returned, dedicated to capturing the essence of Pinot Noir.

The Russells have planted 4 acres to Pinot Noir (Dijon clones 667 and 777, and some vines from cuttings from Julia’s Vineyard in Cambria) and Pinot Gris (clone 146). The young vineyard, named Quinta Santa Rosa Vineyard, is managed by Jeffrey Newton and associates (Coastal Vineyard Care). The first vintage, 2005, was crafted with the assistance of local winemaker, Norm Yost (Flying Goat), and will be released in the spring of this year. Beginning with the 2008 vintage, Prodigal wines will be produced at a new shared winery facility on Santa Rosa Road in Lompoc. Pinot Noirs will be produced from the estate vineyard, Fiddlestix Vineyard, and Rio Vista Vineyard.

Prodigal Wines are available directly from the winery. Those on the mailing list will be offered priority to purchase. Tastings in the Russell's home are available by appointment by phoning 805-688-0476.

Reviewed Wines

2007 Prodigal Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 50 cases, $35. Clones 115, 667. Aged in 33% new French oak, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Subdued aromas of dark berry fruits with hints of Provencal herbs and forest floor. Juicy and bright on the attack with substantial fruit intensity and noticeable fine-grain tannins. This wine has bold flavors but retains an appealing elegance. Could use another year or two in the cellar to fully integrate the tannins. Fine the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good. Reviewed April 9, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Prodigal Sta. Rita Hills Appellation Cuvée Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $35. Sourced from four vineyards: 28% Quinta Santa Rosa, 45% Fiddlestix, 15% Rancho la Viña, and 12% Rio Vista. · Delicately fruited nose with a hint of spice and smoky oak. Soft, redder fruits on the palate with notes of pomegranate and lemon cola and a citrus lift on the lively finish. A fine daily drinker. Decent. Reviewed April 9, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Prodigal 2 Vineyards 2A Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 50 cases, $45. Sourced from Rancho la Viña Vineyard at the western end of the AVA (67%) and Rio Vista Vineyard at the eastern end of the AVA (33%). 100% clone 2A (Wädenswil). · Deeper, darker red fruits featured. This wine has more bulk and mystery than the estate bottling. Moderately rich cherry and berry core set off by subtle oak spice, finishing with an appealing acidic tang. Soft tannins and thoroughly harmonious. Still drank beautifully the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good. Reviewed April 9, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Prodigal Quinta Santa Rosa Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 92 cases, $55. · The nose on this beauty is what entices me about Pinot Noir sporting vivid red fruits, nicely spiced with supporting oak. A delicate wine, but packed with flavor featuring a pleasing melange of red Pinot fruits, wrapped in enough suede tannins to bring the fruit into focus. The wine possesses both an admirable finesse and remarkable persistence on the aromatic finish and picks up interest and intensity with time in the glass. Worth the fifty year wait. Reviewed April 9, 2010 ARTICLE »

2005 Prodigal Quinta Santa Rosa Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc.. Inaugural vintage from this estate vineyard. The wine was crafted with winemaker Norm Yost (Flying Goat). · Darkly colored. Hi-tone fruity nose featuring black cherries and dark red berry jam. Very ripe fruit flavors with a slight roasted quality. Tasty and flashy berry and currant flavors with the slightest hint of oak. Smoothly textured with balancing acidity and a dry finish. The wine has aged nicely. This wine is crafted in a bigger, riper, more fruit-forward style than the 2007 vintage Pinot Noirs that were produced by Stephen Russell. Good. Reviewed April 9, 2010 ARTICLE »

2005 Prodigal Quinta Santa Rosa Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 187 cases. · his wine is composed of 667 clone only. A richer and more creamy Pinot than the one above, it has a velvety mouth feel and bright red fruits on a long finish. A very attractive ethereal style. Reviewed March 5, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Prodigal Wines Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc. 275 cases. This is a blend of grapes from the estate Quinta Santa Rosa Vineyard and Wädenswil clone 2A from Rio Vista Vineyard. Aging was in a mixture of new and neutral French oak barrels (made in the USA by World Cooperage of Missouri) for 12-16 months. · This is a polished wine with delicate cherry, tea, and pepper flavors. Tannins are reigned in, and it finishes with a tangy acidic edge. Reviewed March 5, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Prodigal Wines Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 275 cases, $36. The first appellation release from this new producer. · Sexy aromatics of red Pinot fruits, violet and subtle oak spice. Elegantly styled. Decent fruit on the attack which fades a bit on the back end. Easy to drink, just wish for more on the finish. A producer to watch with great promise. Reviewed December 16, 2007 ARTICLE »

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