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
2013 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Merlot

2013 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Merlot

Because Merlot thrives in moderate climates and moist soils, Trefethen’s estate at Oak Knoll is perfect for cultivating the grape of Bordeaux’s right bank. In this part of the valley, cooler nights and afternoons, alluvial soils, and a long growing season work wonders with Merlot. Trefethen’s Merlot is poised and elegant, showing a wide spectrum of flavors while remaining restrained and food-friendly. In 2013, the weather was warm throughout the summer but rarely hitting any extremes. The fruit ripened a couple weeks earlier than usual but with exceptional quality. This Merlot is rich but delicate with satisfying red fruit, earth and savory herb flavors. It’s perfect with duck, grilled chicken, tomato-based pastas or even black olive and mushroom pizza. 

Details
¥ 5,100
2015 Trefethen

2015 Trefethen "Dragon's Tooth" Estate Napa Valley

Inky dark purple, almost black, in color but loaded with fruit and spice, Dragon’s Tooth is mostly Malbec, a grape lately associated more with Argentina than California – or France. The name alludes to the sharp shards of obsidian, a volcanic rock that looks like solid black glass, that lie scattered like dragons' teeth in the block of Malbec vines in Trefethen’s Main Ranch vineyard. Like many Napa wineries, Trefethen uses Malbec as a component in their Bordeaux-inspired reds. A few years ago, however, they realized that Malbec has lovely qualities in it’s own right, such as intense aromatics and flavors as well as acidity and texture. Dragon’s Tooth also includes 30% Petit Verdot and 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, adding to the complexity and structure. Grilled steak, roast lamb or duck breast would suit this wine well. 

Details
¥ 7,900
2013 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 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. 2013 is now looking like THE classic vintage in a series of excellent years. While summer months were often warm, September nights were cool, so that 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. Beef dishes made with meaty mushrooms and savory spices will enhance - and be enhanced by - this exquisite Cabernet.

Details
¥ 7,900
2012 Trefethen Reserve Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Trefethen Reserve Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Trefethen’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is made from the very best blocks of the Hillspring Vineyard (58%) and the Main Ranch Vineyard (42%). 2012 was a classic Napa vintage that featured warm days, cool nights and a harvest that extended into the middle of October. It’s hard to think of a more generous wine that offers 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% alcohol and excellent structure. Put this wine away for a decade or serve it this weekend – either way, you won’t be disappointed. Lamb, beef or even a seared tuna steak would go well with this wine; peppercorns and carmelized onions are recommended complimentary flavors.

Details
¥ 14,000
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