Rabbit Ridge Winery

The story of our winery

Rabbit Ridge started making and selling wine in 1981 and to date has sold over 3 million cases of wine all while staying a family run business. We are also one of the largest wineries on the West side of Paso Robles. Our Mediterranean style winery is an extremely high-tech, gravity flow design that uses the sloping hillside to transfer wine. The crush pad is behind the winery at the very top of the hill. The press area and tank room are 22 feet below the crush pad. The use of gravity flow is much gentler on the grapes, which helps to preserve the quality of our wines. Our tanks are monitored and run by a computer so that all the temperatures and rates of fermentation can be precisely controlled. At the end of fermentation, a graph is printed showing the fermentation temperatures each day during harvest. The winery is also equipped with automatically timed pump-over devices on each tank. These devices allow Erich, Sarah, and Brice to pump-over the red wines at least six times per day, producing a more extracted, colorful, flavorful, full-bodied wine. The bottling room, barrel room, and tasting room are 22 feet below the tank room.

We feel very strongly about the use of oak in our winemaking. The use of oak is a personal one for many winemakers and we think it changes the game for better structure, body, and balance in wine. 

Rabbit Ridge Winery

Our Family

Erich and Joanne Russell

In 1998, Erich met his wife Joanne James, a lifelong resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, while promoting Rabbit Ridge wines at one of Disney’s top restaurants. Joanne was interviewing with Rabbit Ridge’s wine distributor at the same time, and the two met. Having graduated from Northeast High School and Eckerd College, Joanne was working as a runway model and had her own catering business, along with a fledgling interest in good wine. Erich and Joanne were married in 1999 and maintained a residence in St. Petersburg while Joanne’s daughter grew up, completed high school and went off to college. 

Our Vineyards

…and as it’s said, wine is made by God…

Erich first started planting grapes in Paso Robles in 1996 after becoming enamored by the ideal grape growing climate and soils west of highway 101 in the Templeton Gap.

Erich Russell

Rabbit Ridge Vineyards

All our vineyards are on the west side of Paso Robles. This steep, hilly region with limestone soil and a maritime cooling influence keep it 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the town of Paso Robles to the east. To date, we own over 150 acres of planted vineyard on the West side of Paso Robles located in 3 of Paso Robles’ 11 Viticulture districts. The climate on the west side is very extreme. It is common during the growing season for the temperature on the west side to drop from 90 degrees at 3 pm, to 65 degrees by 6 pm, and then to 40 degrees at night. Erich planted his vineyards precisely throughout the Paso Robles appellation to take advantage of the unique microclimates that would best suit each grape varietal. All three of our vineyards are located on the west side of Highway 101. We believe this area of limited water, shallow, rugged, rocky, calcareous soil produce some of the finest wines in Paso Robles, and among the finest in California. 

We grow numerous grape varietals on our vineyards including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, and Roussanne to name a few. Some of our favorite grapes grown on our vineyards in Paso Robles are native to the Rhône region of France. We love working with some of the more popular Rhône varietals such as Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Grenache, and experimenting with many different blends as well as pure varietal bottlings surrounding them.