My last name ends in a vowel, and I am a bona fide sucker for stories of Italian immigrants like those in my family, arriving in New York City in search of their dreams. In the case of the Trincheros, that journey took them through the glamourous Grand Central Station and then out west, to the rolling hills of Napa to capitalize on their strong wine-making skills from back home. The estate now owns Folie a Duex, Napa Cellars, Sutter Home (where for better or worse, one of the Trinchero sons is credited for creating White Zinfandel, still a huge seller), and Trinchero Napa Valley, where we visited on this trip having an amazing time at Benziger and Robert Mondavi. Sutter Home was the family’s original, which they purchased in 1948. At first, they sold wines to their neighbors, who would drop by with their own barrels, bottles, jugs (or whatever else was lying around). But after Prohibition, everything really took off. These days, there is a much different scene at the more mass market Sutter Home and the brand-new hospitality center and tasting room at the Estate’s highest-level winery, Trinchero Napa Valley in St. Helena. The 22-acre site is an ode to the family’s history, down to the loads of personal photos, mementos and letters — and the men’s and women’s room labeled only “Mario” and “Mary,” after the late patriarchs.
The winery is still family-owned, with Mario and Mary’s sons, Bob (the very son who invented White Zinfandel) and Roger, serving as chairman and CEO.
I loved the old-fashioned bar accessories spread throughout, and of course the old books. I wonder who went to this university in Belgium! There were so many things to look at, that I have a feeling I’ll find something new every time I return.
You know Italians and their food… There is a full kitchen and cooking staff to make every event at Trinchero one to remember. And in the little nook off the kitchen, where the family gets together, Grandma’s elaborate recipe for bagna cauda has been scripted on the walls. The hearty fondue-like dish (but with a mixture including olive oil, butter and garlic instead of cheese, and vegetables for dipping) is traditionally served in the fall, perfect for harvest time. I loved this room so much I was ready to move in.
Remember how I said that Mario and Mary immigrated to America via Grand Central Station? They built their wine cellar to look just like it, as an homage. These barrels contain only Bordeaux varietals, and except for two wines, all Trinchero Napa Valley wines are single-vineyard by the esteemed wine-maker Mario Monticelli.
My favorite accessory to the Trinchero’s excellent wine education program? This Wheel of Fortune-esque wheel of scents! You spin and then smell whichever mystery aroma, in the dark vials shown here, that the wheel lands on. You can see the overall category, so it’s not a total stab in the dark. After you guess, lift up the tab to see if you’re right. For such a seasoned wino, you’d think I’d have at least a rudimenary skill level. Alas, I got exactly zero right. I am going to attend one of the full classes soon.
The wines were delicious (I took five bottles home from this trip, and the Trinchero is the one I’m saving for a special occasion), they have a fun learning game, and the decor is rich in history. Have I mentioned the views?
I am very much looking forward to visiting Trinchero for a full class. I’ve always wanted to learn about the different aromas, and this is the only method I’ve ever seen that convinced me I might be able to learn a little bit!
Trinchero Napa Valley
3070 N ST. HELENA HWY
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