Dan and I are blessed in many ways, including wonderful friends and family, our health, and the means and ability to travel. We also happen to be very lucky to have good friends who have a connection in the wine business, and who were kind enough to hook us up with a private winery tour on our recent trip to the Napa Valley. Many thanks to Lindsay, Damon and Mr. G for setting up this amazing experience for us! We felt quite important and special on our first-ever winery tour, getting an inside look and lesson from our guide: the very knowledgeable Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator, Rosie, of the very classy Trinchero Napa Valley winery. Trinchero is a beautiful place and the wines we tasted there were outstanding. The winery was so nice that we felt like we could live there, and the wines were so good that we joined their wine club. We look forward to our first shipment, assuming it ever cools off here in Texas so they can send it without risking damage to the wine from the heat (just one of the many things we learned from the folks at Trinchero — if a winery won’t agree to delay shipping to hot climates until cooler months, then you probably don’t want to purchase that particular wine.) It was a lovely afternoon and one of the most memorable experiences of our trip.
The grounds of Trinchero are meticulously maintained, with a casual yet elegant feel. And the property and buildings there are immaculate.
One of the first things we learned from our tour with Rosie was how to pronounce the name of the winery — it’s Trinchero with a hard “c,” not a “ch” sound. We also learned some of the history of the Trinchero family, and that there is a lot more to the family’s wine business than the single-vineyard, limited production from the Estate Winery we were touring that day.
For example, we had no idea that the Trinchero family is behind such brands as Napa Cellars, Folie a Deux, Menage a Trois, Newman’s Own and The Show — all of which we have enjoyed before — just to name a few. Ever heard of a little brand called Sutter Home? Yeah, that’s a Trinchero Family Estates brand as well. Rosie told us that the sweet White Zinfandel wine that put Sutter Home on the map was actually the result of a glitch in the fermentation process. But thanks to college girls and little old ladies everywhere, the wine was a hit and the brand became famous for it.
Rosie took us through the wine production process, explaining each step along the way. It was interesting to learn how grapes become our favorite beverage, starting with the machine that crushes and de-stems the fruit. The grapes were still growing when we were there and the harvest won’t take place for several months, so we didn’t get to see anything in action. But it was cool to tour and learn nonetheless.
The next step involves fermentation in these large vessels. I can’t even come close to explaining the winemaking process with as much detail or knowledge as Rosie, so I won’t even try. Let’s just look at the pretty pictures, shall we?
Speaking of pretty, a huge candle chandelier dominates the barrel room, where the wine ages. Gorgeous. And I wish there was such a thing as scratch-n-sniff photos, so you could smell how good it smelled in there — crisp and clean oak mixed with soft hints of red wine.
Our afternoon also included a tasting that took place at the Trinchero Hospitality and Culinary Center, which we also toured. The Center is a beautiful place, and we felt even more special to be able to sample wine there, rather than at the regular tasting room with the common folks. (A little V.I.P. treatment goes a long way.)
One of the main rooms of the Center features portraits of Mario Trinchero and his wife Mary, with the heartfelt inscription “In loving memory of Mario and Mary Trinchero. May we continue in the same generous spirit. Bless this house.” Mario Trinchero was an Italian immigrant who moved to Napa Valley from New York more then 60 years ago, when he and his brother purchased a winery that had been abandoned during Prohibition. Mario and Mary’s children are still involved in the wine business and there is definitely a strong sense of family and history surrounding this winery. We loved this quote from one of Mario’s sons, Bob: “To say my father would be proud of his family’s achievements would be a profound understatement. His dream lives on in our hearts — and in every bottle of Trinchero Napa Valley.”
This sense of family and history adds to the comfortable elegance of the Center. I want whoever decorated the place to come do my house.
Even the entrance to the restrooms was decorated beautifully. Is rustic luxury a thing? If not, it should be, because that’s the vibe of this place. I didn’t actually visit the “facilities,” but Dan did and said “We could have set up a little table and chairs and lived in that bathroom, it was so nice.”
Rosie took us downstairs to a gorgeous conference room. It was vaguely reminiscent of the wine caves where some wineries store their aging barrels, yet was one of the most beautifully decorated conference rooms we’d ever been in. I would schedule meetings all the time if I worked there. For no particular reason other than to hang out in that room.
One of my favorite features was the wall of candles — picture several more panels like the one above, with candles in nooks from floor to ceiling along an entire wall. Then imagine them all lit up, which Rosie said they sometimes do. Wow.
We pretty much walked through the Center saying “wow” during the whole tour. Especially in the kitchen, which Dan didn’t want to leave. And there’s a little cameo appearance by Rosie.
Off the kitchen was a large patio, with one of the most amazing views we saw on our whole trip. Rosie explained that they sometimes have meetings on the patio, and I wondered how anyone could possibly pay attention to anything other than this view while sitting out here?
Seriously, Dan and I could have spent the whole day there, just gazing out at the grapevines, trees and mountains. I found myself looking around the grounds below for a place where we might be able to pitch a little tent and live.
Rosie managed to pry us away from the view with the promise of tasting wine. This being our first formal tasting, we weren’t really sure what we were doing. But Rosie was a great educator and guided us along so we didn’t feel too intimidated. For those who may not know, the glass to the left is for tasting, the shorter glass is for palate-cleansing water and the little black container is for spitting out any wine you don’t want to actually drink (yeah, right.)
We tasted a variety of wines, starting with the Sauvignon Blanc and ending with a progression of red wines that built on intensity from low to high. Along the way, Rosie tasted with us and would ask what we smelled and tasted from the different types of wine. We learned that wine tasting can be a subjective process, in that people have varied palates and may recognize particular flavors that others may not. Overall, the tasting and tour were a wonderful experience that we thoroughly enjoyed. If we ever find ourselves lucky enough to return to beautiful Napa Valley, we will be sure to visit Trinchero again (and might never leave.) Many thanks to Rosie for sharing her expertise and to Mr. G for making it happen. We couldn’t have asked for a better first taste of Napa.