The history of Orin Swift Cellars began during a “study” abroad trip to Florence in 1995, where founder David Swift Phinney was introduced to wine, how it was made, and got hooked. After graduation, he landed a job as a temporary harvest worker at Robert Mondavi Winery in 1997, which led to his decision to build his own company. In 1998, Phinney founded Orin Swift Cellars, so designated to honor his father’s middle name and his mother’s maiden name.
With two tons of zinfandel and not much else, he spent the next decade making wine for others, as well as for himself, and grew the company into a multinational brand that now includes 300 acres of vineyards in the Southwest of France. This international ambition has led to projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica, Argentina and other locations around the globe.
Most well-known for his iconic The Prisoner, a Zinfandel-based red blend he has since sold to Huneeus Vintners, Orin Swift Cellars produces several other sought-after domestic wines, each with an innovative label or bottle design. These include the cabernet-based Mercury Head, the Bordeaux blend Papillon, and a Chardonnay-based white blend, Machete. His project in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southwest France, Department 66, focuses on old-vine Grenache under the D-66 label.