Dave Phinney: Breaking Rules One Location at a Time

Wines that offer true expressions of terroir must follow certain rules. Wine can be fun but it must adhere to certain guidelines for labeling purposes. Wine is art and poetry but winemaking must follow rules. Wines from certain regions may only be blended with other wines from that region, and only sometimes, as the rules permit. What happens when all the wine “norms” get blown out of the water? Dave Phinney will tell you what happens… you get Locations Wines!

On a Thursday afternoon in mid-April I had the pleasure to participate in an interactive virtual wine tasting with none other than Dave Phinney himself, and featuring three of his Locations wines, E, F, and I. These wines are widely distributed across the US and Canada so I feel confident you have seen them. Dave Phinney is also known for his icon The Prisoner wine, part of the Orin Swift wine label.


I must give full disclosure up front, after listening to Dave Phinney talk about his journey, his wines, and his philosophy I came away thinking, “this guy is awesome, I want to meet him in person.” Dave Phinney is a no rules kinda guy. His goal is to make consistently good wine that puts a smile on the consumers face year after year. If that means blending cross appellation wine from EU countries then so be it. Dave does not care about DOC, or AOC, or IGT. However, he is not arrogant, or disrespectful, in fact quite the opposite. He is humble and was visibly moved when answering a question about being a winemaker. He is so thankful for having the opportunity to pursue his passion he said “he would do it for free.” So Dave had a vision and a dream that all began on the border of France and Spain in a small wine region called Maury, and blossomed into Locations Wines at the Charles de Gaulle airport Sherton hotel.

Dave’s mind was flooded with questions: What if there were no rules? What if you could blend across appellations? What if you could produce a blended wine that represented an entire country? “What if there were no rules and how fun would it be to travel this country to find great growers with old vines while experiencing the culture and people of this place?” Locations Wines was born!


Locations Wine is a very unique, and out-of-the-box thinking, wine concept that I believe may be summed up with three words:

  • Simple: the idea is simple; find great vineyards with old vines from growers who share and understand the vision to craft a wine representative of their location
  • Complex: the reality is complex; travel the world, seek out some of the best old vines vineyards and have [multi-language] conversations about this new idea with people who may not be overly receptive to this new world thinking
  • Fun: the journey has been a blast; traveling the world, meeting people, making friends, experiencing diverse cultures in pursuit of a dream

“As a winemaker, having no rules is pretty cool.” ~ Dave Phinney

Locations Wine E Red Spain ($18.99): A blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo, Monastrell, and Cariñena sourced from Priorat, Jamilla, Toro, Rioja, and Ribera del Duero; clear, deep purple in the glass; pronounced aromas of candied black and blue berries, fresh violets, milk chocolate, oregano, baking spices, and vanilla; a balanced palate offers medium acidity with medium+ well integrated tannins that coat the mouth in a dusty earth, full body with a long, earthy finish; overall rustic in nature, I can just taste it with tapas.

Locations Wine F Red France ($18.99): A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and assorted Bordeaux varietals sourced from Rhone, Roussillon, and Bordeaux; clear medium+ ruby in the glass; medium+ complex aromas of stewed red and black fruit, olive tapenade, dried lavender, sage, and rose petals, cocoa, leather, and vanilla; a silky mouth-feel reveals medium+ acidity and tannins that coat the palate in a full body wine with a smooth, easy finish that begs for another sip.

Locations Wine I Red Italy ($18.99): A blend of Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, Primitivo, Barbera, and just a touch of Sangiovese sourced from Puglia, Alba in Piemonte, and Tuscany; clear, medium+ aromas that reminisce of Italy, cherries, plums, blackberries, roses, sweet baking spice notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, herbal notes of thyme and oregano, juniper, smoked meat and damp underbrush; a full body wine that wraps the palate in balanced medium+ acidity and tannins that are well integrated resulting in a smooth texture and a long juicy finish

Dave Phinney was asked what he would say to someone who accused him of not respecting terroir with these locations wines. His response was “I’d tell them they are right.” Of course this makes sense due to the blending of grapes from all over the three respective countries. And yet, I get the sense there is something bigger going on with these Locations wines. I drink a lot of Spanish, French and Italian wines. From my experience Dave Phinney has done something, possibly by accident, he has found a terroir expression. The E wine is the most rustic, the F wine is the most elegant and refined, and the I falls somewhere in between. As I reflect on what Spain, France, and Italian wines offer overall, I would suggest it is exactly what these three Locations wines demonstrate from their respective countries of origin. It has been said before but I will say it again here, Dave Phinney is a genius!


Dave’s vision and passion is the winelover’s dream. His Locations Wine have expanded to include Portugal, Argentina, California (red and white), 100% Pinot Noir from Oregon, Washington, Texas, a non-blended French rosé, and a Coriscan white wine. Dave hopes you will try his well-priced Locations wines and allow him to perhaps introduce you to a wine region you have yet to explore. Moreover, Dave hopes after trying his Locations wines you will begin to enjoy more wines from his Locations regions and beyond. I feel confident Locations Wine will be wines you will enjoy again and again.

My Song Selection:

Get your own bottle of Locations Wines and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!

3 responses to “Dave Phinney: Breaking Rules One Location at a Time”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: