Trefethen

ONE FAMILY. ONE ESTATE. ONE PASSION.

Trefethen Family Vineyards is a proud family-owned and operated producer of estate wines; indeed, in 40 years, it has never bought a single grape for any of its wines. The majority of Trefethen’s nearly 600 acres are found on the Main Ranch Vineyard, located in Oak Knoll – about midway between Yountville and Napa – a cooler district in the southern half of the Napa Valley. The other property is the Hillspring Vineyard, on the low foothills of the mountains just to west of Oak Knoll. Trefethen produces mainly Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Riesling. However, it farms a total of nine grape varieties, the others being Malbec, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Viognier and Pinot Noir. (The other varieties are either used for blending, released in special bottlings or sold to other wineries).    Eugene Trefethen, an engineering company executive, purchased the historic, but run-down property in 1968 as a post-retirement hobby. When his son, John, suggested replanting the vineyards and founding an estate winery, the idea was considered foolhardy at best. Back then the Napa Valley was essentially an isolated, agricultural backwater, where prune and walnut orchards were almost as plentiful as vineyards. Only 20 wineries were in existence, and most vineyards were in the business of selling grapes. It turned out that John and his wife, Janet, caught the right wave, and their energy propelled Trefethen Family Vineyards into one of the predominant new wineries of the 1970s.  After 40 years of managing the estate, the Trefethens, who have now been joined by their grown-up children, have an intimate understanding of their vineyards, from the soils and microclimates of the various blocks to the varietals, the clones and the rootstock. With this knowledge, they can create an ever more interesting lineup of wines, crafting new blends such as the Malbec-based Dragonstooth, or reserve wines made from superior blocks of the very best vines.

Wines from this Winery

2016 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Dry Riesling

2016 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Dry Riesling

Acclaimed for decades as among the best in California, Trefethen’s dry Rieslings evoke the structured, elegant, minerally Rieslings of Austria and win awards for being so fresh, fruity, tangy and pleasurable. Though made with early drinking in mind, a retrospective tasting showed some vintages going strong well into their second decade and beyond. In 2016, heavy late winter rains brought a welcome end to California’s multi-year drought. Though the vineyards flowered early, cool temperatures in July and August slowed ripening down, allowing for plenty of “hang time,” which encouraged the developement of excellent flavors. This Riesling exhibits lovely aromatics of orange blossom and lime zest and delivers a lively mouthful of apple and guava flavors. Crab, shellfish or any number of Asian dishes would pair well with the delicious Riesling.

Details
¥ 3,800
2015 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay

2015 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay

Trefethen established its bonafides as a prime producer of Chardonnay back in 1979, when it was declared ““Best Chardonnay in the World” at the Gault Millau World Wine Olympics in France. 30 years later, the well-drained soils and temperate climate of the Main Ranch in Oak Knoll continue to work their magic, producing rich and flavorful Chardonnay. In 2015, the third dry year in a row caused vines to struggle. Overall yields were down, and grape clusters and individual berries were smaller than normal. But because stressed fruit concentrates flavors, the result was a truly fine wine. Robert Parker called it “a zesty, well-balanced and impeccably clean and fresh Chardonnay with the oak barely noticeable whatsoever.” The balance of body and structure suggest lighter dishes such as shellfish, grilled fish or pasta with spring vegetables.

Details
¥ 4,700
2014 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Merlot

2014 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Merlot

Because Merlot thrives in moderate climates and moist soils, Trefethen’s estate at Oak Knoll is prime terroir for cultivating this key member of the “Bordeaux blend.” In this part of the Napa Valley, cooler nights and afternoons, alluvial soils, and a long growing season produce Merlot with structure and character. Trefethen’s Merlot is poised and elegant, showing a wide spectrum of flavors while remaining restrained and food-friendly. In 2014, the winery not only contended with drought, but suffered a catastrophic earthquake that struck just before harvest got underway. But ideal late summer weather slowed down the ripening process, taking pressure off the winery and allowing them to make as fine a Merlot as ever. Decanter magazine included Trefethen’s Merlot on their list of California reds of great value. It’s a lush and silky red wine that delights with dark fruit, earth and savory notes of mushroom and black pepper. It’s perfect with duck, grilled chicken, tomato-based pastas or even black olive and mushroom pizza. 

Details
¥ 5,100
2014 Trefethen

2014 Trefethen "Dragon's Tooth" Estate Napa Valley

While the red dragon on the label honors the Welsh ancestry of Catherine Trefethen, the wife of the founder, the name, “Dragon’s Tooth,” alludes to the shards of volcanic black obsidian that crop up in the vineyard – one of the rockiest blocks on Trefethen’s Main Ranch. This blend of 45% Malbec, 35% Petit Verdot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon would be unusual anywhere; particularly in the Napa Valley, where the few wineries that do produce Malbec use small amounts to add color to their Cabernet blends. However, as proud owners of an estate that is nearly 50 years old, the Trefethens can risk thinking outside the box. Inky dark purple in color, the wine is loaded with fruit and spice and wrapped in an elegant cloak of fresh acidity but soft tannins. Grilled steak, roast lamb or duck breast would suit this wine well. 

Details
¥ 7,900
2014 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The elegance of Trefethen’s Estate Cabs is an expression of the terroir at Oak Knoll, where summers are distinctly cooler than “up valley.” On the other hand, the gravelly soils in this section of vineyard radiate warmth throughout the nights, producing luscious, complex wines with bright, complex flavors of plums, blackberries and spices. In 2014, the Napa Valley suffered a third year of drought as well as a significant earthquake; on the other hand, mild weather throughout the summer produced excellent fruit. The resulting wine has everything we look for in a fine California Cabernet: black and red fruit, exotic spices, a touch of earth, elegant tannins and balance above all. Served with beef dishes made with meaty mushrooms, thyme and black pepper, this wine will bring joy to a fine meal. 

Details
¥ 7,900
2014 Trefethen Reserve Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Trefethen Reserve Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The Oak Knoll District’s micro climate of cool summer nights and mornings is one of the secrets behind this elegant Napa Valley Cabernet. The other is that only the very best blocks of the Hillspring Vineyard (57%) and the Main Ranch Vineyard (43%) are used as the fruit source. With a third dry winter in a row as well as a severe August earthquake, 2014 would seem to have been hexed; on the other hand, the wines clearly demonstrate it to be one of Napa’s great vintages of the decade. Trefethen’s Reserve Cab is a case in point, offering pure pleasure with layer upon layer of dark fruit, rich chocolate, cedar and spice. And all that is kept in balance with modest (for Napa Cab) 14.1% alcohol and excellent structure. Put this wine away for a decade or serve it this weekend – either way, you won’t be disappointed. A meal of lamb or prime rib will shine with this wine; peppercorns and carmelized onions are recommended complimentary flavors.

Details
¥ 16,800
2013 Trefethen

2013 Trefethen "HaLo" Estate Napa Valley

Trefethen’s flagship wine, HaLo is named for the next generation of Trefethens, the children Hailey and Loren. This estate Cabernet Sauvignon is produced entirely from Trefethen’s Hillspring Vineyard, where Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Malbec grow in a terroir of gentle slopes, shallow, rocky soils and slightly warmer conditions than those at the winery at Oak Knoll. Deep, rich, complex and multi-layered, the wine is known for earthy flavors and aromas that hint at the oak forest surrounding the vineyard. 2013 is increasingly considered the vintage with the greatest long-term potential of three great ones in a row. This bold, full-bodied Cabernet intoxicates with notes of blackberry and bay leaf before delivering a robust mouthful of black cherry, spice and dark chocolate. The structure and tannins suggest that HaLo is a wine to put down for future celebrations, so be sure to decant when drinking young. Beef and lamb dishes would go well with HaLo, especially when enhanced with thyme and mushrooms. 

Details
¥ 36,000