Although he now effortlessly blends some of the most deliciously affordable wines in the country, becoming an
accomplished winemaker didn't happen overnight for Erich Russell, founder and winemaker of Rabbit Ridge. This
self-taught master began with a home winemaking kit while teaching school in Southern California. Erich had
earned his nickname "The Rabbit” as a world-class runner in college. His talent for winemaking later became
apparent when in 1979 his entry in an amateur winemaking contest earned him a job at Chateau St. Jean.
In 1981, Erich opened Rabbit Ridge Winery in Healdsburg, which grew throughout the 1980's and 1990's to
become one of the top wineries in Sonoma County. As the cost of vineyards in Sonoma became prohibitive, in an
effort to continue Rabbit Ridge's commitment to producing high quality wines at affordable prices, Erich began
looking for prime vineyard land elsewhere. This eventually led him to the west side of Paso Robles where the
climate is cooler and limestone soils similar to the great vineyards of France and Italy are found. Erich planted
vineyards precisely throughout the appellation to take advantage of the unique micro-climates and soil
characteristics that would best suit each varietal. Today over 300 acres on 5 different vineyard sites on the west
side of Highway 101 are in production and Erich is making some of the best wines of his career. In 2003, Rabbit
Ridge completed construction of a new Mediterranean style, 55,000 square foot state-of-the-art, gravity flow
winery in Paso Robles, as the business had outgrown the Healdsburg facility.