From Our Story To Yours
As a chemist by education, Bruce Prothro was always intrigued with the winemaking process and Ronda spent a lot of time listening to him talk about it. So together they began a journey that started with home winemaking and led to an ultra-premium wine brand.
Bruce and Ronda Prothro’s affinity for wine started at the very beginning of their relationship. Their first date was wine tasting in Napa Valley. And it was a long day. Ronda “interviewed” Bruce on the benches in front of Pine Ridge… they shared their first kiss at V Sattui… and ate dinner that night in Yountville. Apparently, Bruce passed the test because exactly one year after that first date, they got married. That was nearly 29 years ago. And they’ve enjoyed drinking wine together ever since!
In 1991, Bruce and Ronda purchased Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay grapes from a vineyard in the Russian River Valley that supplied grapes to DeLoach Winery. With no formal training, they borrowed and rented equipment to crush, ferment, and press almost two tons of grapes, yielding nearly 120 gallons of barrel-aged wine. Even though they made a few mistakes that first year, the wine was a hit among their friends and family and became a staple at their parties and get togethers.
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.
Over the next seven harvests, Bruce and Ronda sourced grapes from vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, 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 wine country’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 or rented pickup truck. With no forklifts or heavy equipment, they lifted, pushed, and muscled the bins, vats, and barrels around their garage where each vintage was hand-crafted with care and attention. With the help of Burt Williams at Williams Selyem, Dexter and Val Ahlgren at Ahlgren Vineyards, Ken Burnap at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, Kent Rosenbloom and Jeff Cohn at Rosenbloom Cellars, and the crew at David Bruce Winery, they refined their methods and developed a style that used native and commercial yeast, prolonged cold soaks, and longer fermentations. Combined with a mixture of French and American Oak barrel aging, the style resulted in more robust extractions and extended macerations while maintaining the characteristics of each vineyard and varietal.
In 1999, demands from a growing family and careers forced them to put their winemaking on hold. They cellared their last few vintages to share with friends, gave away their equipment, and became wine drinkers instead of winemakers.
After a 16-year hiatus and on the verge of being empty nesters, Bruce and Ronda revived their dream of being winemakers
First, they contracted with a facility where they could make wine on a scale much larger than they did in their small garage. Sourcing from well-regarded and established vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma Coast, and the Sacramento River Delta, they launched Prothro Family Wines; a brand focused on small lot, limited production wines made from notable and well-established vineyards.
Prothro Family Wines debuted with a 2014 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from the Beatty Ranch Vineyard and a 2016 Yountville Sauvignon Blanc from the Morgaen Lee Vineyard. Both wines sold out in a matter of weeks and won medals at the San Francisco International Wine Competition— the Cabernet winning a Gold and earning 90 points and the Sauvignon Blanc winning a Bronze. Subsequent releases have also earned rave reviews; their 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Broken Rock Vineyard was rated 93 points and their 2014 Napa Valley Vineyard Select Cuvée was rated 91 points. Not only has their wine been well received, but their story has as well. Their winemaking journey has been featured in print and broadcast media, internet blogs, and podcasts.
As a two-person team with a hands-on approach, Bruce and Ronda’s story continues to evolve—just like their wines.
Each bottle is packed with memories and life experiences that began more than 25 years ago in a two-car garage in Los Gatos. And each vintage represents their heritage as home winemakers along with their commitment, quality, and focus on producing wines that tell a story. A story that was shared by two newlyweds who could barely afford the grapes and equipment for their first harvest, and a story that grew with each vintage and harvest. A story that, today, is shared in every bottle of Prothro Family Wines.