4925 Yorba Ranch Rd
Yorba Linda, CA 92887
“The harder you work, the luckier you get” ~ Dave Phinney
Orange County Wine Mart & Deli are super excited to present to you an evening with the elusive David Phinney! Still in his 40s, he has already established himself as an icon in the wine world. Like many others, he had humble beginnings.
The story began in 1995 when on a whim, Phinney went to Florence, Italy to spend a semester “studying”. There he fell in love with Italy’s wine and food culture. After his Italian stint, he went back to the University of Arizona to complete his degree in Political Science but luckily for us, he decided not to go to law school. Four days after graduation, he moved to Napa Valley.
He ended up sending his resume to over fifty wineries. Only one responded – Robert Mondavi Winery hired Phinney as a temporary harvest worker and he was the only white guy in an all-Latino crew. The following year, Dave started his own winery with a couple of tons of Zinfandel and not much else. He paid tribute to his parents with the name – Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name. The first two vintages were a failure but he finally struck gold in the year 2000 with his 3rd attempt, a kitchen sink Red Blend he called The PRISONER. The rest is history.
Ten years later, in 2010, in an attempt to regain his sanity, he sold the Prisoner and Saldo labels to Huneeus for $40 million. In 2016, they turned around and sold them to Constellation brands for $285 million. Around the same time, Dave sold Orin Swift to Gallo for an undisclosed price but remained as the winemaker. He can now focus on what he does best, make great wine from the best grapes.
Dave is known for his clever, catchy, and creative labels. As a child, he used to collect coins including the silver Mercury Head dimes. The coins haven’t been in production since 1945, but that didn’t deter him from his idea to stick a Liberty dime to the front of every bottle of Mercury Head. “It took a little effort at first finding the dimes from dealers and coin collectors, but we have a good supply now. People even send us the coins from their empty bottles to use,” says Phinney. The grapes that go into his flagship wine, Mercury Head hail from Phinney’s best lots in the Napa Valley. The “leftover” blends from Mercury Head and Papillon go into Palermo, his “entry-level” Napa Cabernet. He’s equally proud of his Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, which took a decade to perfect.