Trefethen

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

Country

USA

Region

California


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Wines from this Winery


2018 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Dry Riesling

While a Riesling vineyard in the middle of the Napa Valley does suggest mid-twentieth century winegrowing, the Trefethens 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. 2018 was another ideal vintage, in which winter rains rejuvenated the soils, and moderate summer temperatures produced fruit with concentration and excellent flavors. This Riesling exhibits lovely aromatics and flavors of juicy apples, peaches, citrus and jasmine. 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)
2017 Trefethen

Double T Cabernet may be Trefethen’s “truly fun wine at a great price,” but it is produced from the same plots on the Oak Knoll Main Ranch that produce their entire range of estate wines. The name is meant to evoke the look of vines trained on a quadrilateral cordon trellis - four arms resembling two Ts – as well as to acknowledge that the winery is run by four Trefethens spanning two generations. What’s inside the 2017 Double T is also more classic than casual, featuring the traditional blend of Bordeaux’s left-bank: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc. The result is a wine that is purple black in color, lush and creamy on both nose and palate, and awash in blackberry, cassis, cloves and milky dark chocolate. As summer extends into autumn, Double T will taste great with barbecue or more elegant fare. The winery even suggests pepper-crusted Ahi tuna. 

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¥5,390 (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)
2017 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Merlot

Merlot was virtually unknown in Northern California in the 1960s when the Trefethens planted their vineyards. It turned out that Oak Knoll suited the early-ripening Merlot perfectly. Cooler summer nights and afternoons, alluvial soils, and a long growing season endow Merlot with bright acidity, structure and character. With excellent terroir as well as 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, the 2017 vintage started warm but ended cool; crop yields were down but the wine is a classic. With 5% Cabernet Franc, 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)
2017 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Those who prefer Cabs that are elegant, bright and versatile - as opposed to overripe, superrich and powerful – will love Trefethen Estate Cab. Well-defined dark and red fruit flavors are complimented with spice and savory notes, firm tannins and acidity provide structure and length, and the alcohol hovers around 14%. What’s not to like? Trefethen’s superpower 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. Conditions in the Napa Valley in 2017 were generally excellent but for two challenges: a heat spike in early September and wildfires in October. For Trefethen, their cooler Oak Knoll location moderated the heat wave, which, providentially, also quickened ripening enough that the grapes were fully harvested before the fires started. The result is 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)
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.

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¥18,480 (incl. tax)
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2015 Trefethen

A rich, structured and elegant wine with power, balance and beauty, HaLo – Trefethen’s flagship – is named for the family’s third generation, Hailey and Loren. This estate Cabernet Sauvignon is produced entirely from the estate’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. 2015 started with a dry winter and warm spring that stressed the vines and limited the yields. But smaller bunches and berries meant more concentrated flavors and a fantastic wine as a result. This bold, full-bodied Cabernet intoxicates with notes of dark cherry and boysenberry before delivering a robust mouthful of dark red fruit balanced by vibrant acidity. 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. 

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¥39,600 (incl. tax)
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