Heart of the Family. Soul of the Estate. 

A family-owned producer of distinguished estate wines for over 50 years, Trefethen Family Vineyards has always been guided by a unique dedication to sustainable farming, thoughtful winemaking and gracious hospitality. 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 an isolated community with more prune and walnut orchards than vineyards, and only 20 wineries were in existence. But the estate happened to feature a standing winery building from an earlier era, which added credence to the idea that wine would be both history and future. As it turned out, John and his wife, Janet, caught the new Napa winemaking wave, and their energy propelled Trefethen Family Vineyards into becoming one of the top new wineries of the 1970s. Indeed, in 1979 the 1976 Trefethen Chardonnay was declared “The Best Chardonnay in the World” at the Gault Millau Wine Olympics held in Paris.

Since the mid-2000s, the third generation of Trefethens, John and Janet’s children, Hailey and Lorenzo, have taken charge. 50 years has given this family 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 continue to create new blends and reserve wines made from superior blocks of the very best vines and build on a legacy of estate grown wines of remarkable quality and integrity. 

Wine Maker

Bryan Kays





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Wines from this Winery

2019 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Dry Riesling

As owners of their estate, the Trefethens need not focus exclusively on profitable grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, in order to mitigate the high cost of Napa Valley land. Indeed, they treasure their Riesling vineyard in Oak Knoll, at the southern end of the valley. Like the elegant Rieslings of Austria, Trefethen Riesling is made in a dry style. It’s bright, fresh and fruity, but structured with mouthwatering tang and minerality and capable of aging for years - even decades. In 2019 the weather alternated between warmer spells and cooler ones; nevertheless, the temperatures at Oak Knoll remained moderate enough to produce excellent Riesling. This Riesling exhibits lovely aromas and flavors of orange blossom, jasmine, green apple, and grapefruit. Crab, shellfish or dishes that feature cilantro, lime juice, and raw fish are recommended pairings with the delicious Riesling.

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¥4,510 (incl. tax)
2018 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay

“Defined in the vineyard; refined in the cellar” is how the Trefethens define their approach. The cool climate and well-drained soils make the Oak Knoll AVA a sweetspot for bright and delicate Chardonnay. And the winery’s method of using barrel fermentation (for a softer, creamier structure) while strictly limiting new oak and malolactic fermentation produces a pure expression of Chardonnay fruit with roundness as well as a touch of vanilla on the palate. If you prefer Chardonnay with more apple, pear and bright citrus instead of pineapple and buttery notes, Trefethen is for you! Excellent balance of body and acidity make this Chardonnay an ideal food wine. The winery recommends recipes with almonds, hazelnuts, tarragon, lime zest and lemon thyme. Serve with seafood or lighter meats.

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¥6,050 (incl. tax)
2018 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. With 50+ years of experience, the Trefethens make a Merlot that’s poised and elegant, offering complex flavors while remaining restrained and food-friendly. According to the winery, 2018 began with soil-replenishing rains that were followed by a warm summer and cooler-than-average autumn. The harvest proceeded at a leisurely pace well into October, allowing the fruit to develop a melange of complex flavors. With 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a well-balanced wine that delights with silky red fruit, dark earthy notes, floral perfume, and velvet tannins.  An exceptional wine for the table – try it with duck, grilled chicken, tomato-based pastas, or even black olive and mushroom pizza. 

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¥6,600 (incl. tax)
2017 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Franc

After many years of selling Trefethen’s wines, Hotei is pleased to offer one of Trefethen’s “small-lot” specials, the 2017 Cabernet Franc, which charms with dark fruit and floral earthy notes. With a few well-known exceptions (famously, Chateau Cheval-Blanc), Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux and Napa Valley is more of a blender, softening and adding aromatic liveliness to the robust Cabernet Sauvignon, than a star that’s bottled on its own. As an early ripener, Cabernet Franc does best in cooler climates, like Chinon in the Loire region of France…. or Oak Knoll in the Napa Valley. According to the winery, the 2017 Cabernet Franc is “ideal for rustic and earthy dishes which feature flavors of rosemary, mint or sage…. and pairs particularly well with ham, pork or veal in stone fruit sauces.” Customers looking for a versatile red with somewhat lower alcohol (13.7%) than the typical Napa Cab should give this a try. 

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¥6,710 (incl. tax)
2017 Trefethen

Inky dark purple, almost black, in color but loaded with fruit and spice, Dragon’s Tooth is a blend in which Malbec stars and Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Merlot play supporting roles. While Malbec is one of the 5 approved varieties in Bordeaux, it’s more common in Southwest France and is also Argentina’s flagship wine. Dragon’s Tooth alludes to the obsidian shards, black volcanic glass, that lie scattered like dragons' teeth in the block of Malbec vines in Trefethen’s Main Ranch vineyard. Like many Napa wineries, Trefethen has long added Malbec to 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. In 2017, the blend consists of 54% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Petit Verdot and 5% Merlot. The winery suggests dishes with slow-cooked peppers or tomatoes as well as beef or lamb to savor with this fine wine. 

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¥9,680 (incl. tax)
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2018 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Elegance, brightness, and versatility are what we love about Trefethen Estate Cab. Spice and savory notes compliment black and red fruit flavors; firm tannins and acidity provide structure and length, and the alcohol hovers around 14%. What’s not to like? The key to this wine is the terroir. Just north of Napa, Oak Knoll might seem a bit too foggy and cool for Cabernet. But gravelly soils in the Cabernet blocks of Trefethen’s vineyards radiate warmth throughout the nights, producing luscious, complex wines with bright, complex flavors. At the Decanter World Wine Awards, Oak Knoll was lauded as “ideal for mingling Napa’s diagnostic generosity and depth with an expressive finesse and approachability.” About the 2018, the judges went on to note that “the aromatic currant and berry fruits are blue, tender and enticing, with skilled and seamless oak integration. On the palate, the wine has weight and depth — but what you really notice in this 2018 vintage is its purity and inner energy.” Yes! Classic Trefethen - richly flavored and aromatic but elegant, balanced, and food-friendly. Serve with beef - especially dishes made with mushrooms, fresh rosemary or black pepper. Goes surprisingly well with Ahi or maguro steak with a peppercorn crust.

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¥9,680 (incl. tax)
2016 Trefethen