From our story to yours
Each bottle of Prothro Family Wines tells a story that began more than 25 years ago. In a small two-car garage in Los Gatos, California, Bruce and Ronda Prothro began a journey that would take them from wine drinkers to home winemakers to partners in an ultra-premium wine venture.
After spending time around the vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma County, in 1991 Bruce and Ronda were offered Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay grapes from a vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Without any formal training, they purchased, borrowed, and rented the equipment needed to crush and ferment almost 2 tons of grapes that they eventually pressed, racked, and aged in French and American oak barrels. Their first vintage yielded 120 gallons of finished wine and was a modest success with their family and friends despite the challenges of a cool harvest and a few mistakes along the way.
With the knowledge they gained from the previous vintage, they went back to the same vineyard the next year and harvested by hand 2 tons of zinfandel and pinot noir grapes. These wines far exceeded their expectations and gave them the confidence to keep going as home winemakers. Over the next 7 vintages, Bruce and Ronda sourced grapes from vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, the Russian River Valley, and the Sierra Foothills. They cultivated an extensive network of growers and vineyard managers that gave them access to some of the area’s most prominent vineyards. They picked grapes by hand, field crushed each varietal, and drove the fermentation vats back to Los Gatos in a borrowed pick-up truck. With no forklifts or fancy equipment, they lifted, pushed, and muscled the bins, vats, and barrels around their two-car garage where each vintage was fermented, pressed, and barrel aged. With the help of Burt Williams at Williams Selyem, Dexter and Val Ahlgren at Ahlgren Vineyards, Ken Burnap at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, Rosenbloom Cellars, and David Bruce Winery, they refined their methods, developing a style that used native yeast and extended cold soaks leading to longer fermentations and maintaining the characteristics of each vineyard site.
Their last harvest as home winemakers was 1998. With two small kids and demanding careers, they diverted their time and attention to life without winemaking. With friends and families, they drank the last of their vintages, gave their equipment to another home winemaker, and put their dreams on hold. After a 16-year hiatus and with both kids nearing college, Bruce and Ronda resurrected their dream and embarked on a journey to find a facility where they could make wine, not as home winemakers but, this time, as a new business venture. Sourcing from the best vineyards in Napa Valley and with the guidance of a consulting winemaker, they expanded their heritage as home winemakers into Prothro Family Wines; a brand focused on small lot production from carefully selected vineyards.
The Prothro Family Wines debut vintage included a 2014 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from the legendary Beatty Ranch Vineyard and a 2016 Yountville Sauvignon Blanc from the Morgaen Lee Vineyard. Their first release sold out in under two months with an unprecedented ongoing demand. The 2104 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon won a Gold Medal at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition and the 2016 Yountville Sauvignon Blanc won a Bronze Medal. Bruce and Ronda’s story has appeared in both print and broadcast media, including a feature article in the San Jose Mercury News, a radio interview on the Wine Crush hosted by Laura Lawson, and a podcast interview for insideatx.com, hosted by Jay Papasan. The reception of their wines has confirmed their heritage as winemakers and validated their decision to jump back into winemaking.
Each bottle of Prothro Family Wines is filled with life experiences that tell a story. A story that began as a dream shared by two newlyweds who could barely afford the grapes and equipment for their first harvest. A story that grew with each vintage, with each harvest, and with each bottle they shared with family and friends. And a story that, today, is stronger than ever before. We invite you to enjoy our wines and share your story with us.