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


2020 Trefethen

Eshcol Chardonnay provides all the beauty and charm of Trefethen’s signature Chardonnay but at a lower price - so feel free to load up and serve it anytime you need to scratch that itch for a yummy Chardonnay. Keep in mind that this is no typical second label sourced from “nearby” growers or distant appellations. 100% of the fruit was sourced from Trefethen’s Main Ranch. The difference between Eshcol and Trefethen’s top-of-the-line Chardonnay is that only 17% was fermented in barrel (as opposed to 60%) and only 5% (versus 12%) was aged in new oak. More of the vineyard blocks are more recent plantings, too. This is a fresh, well-balanced wine that emphasizes fresh green apple and citrus flavors with only a minimum of oak notes. 

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¥4,290 (incl. tax)
2021 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Dry Riesling

Is there a wine more food-friendly than Riesling? Especially when made in a dry style, it compliments Japanese, South and Southeast Asian cuisine, as well as all manner of salads, seafood, chicken, pork, vegetarian, raw, grilled, or creamy dishes. While award-winning Trefethen Dry Riesling makes for a perfect aperitif, it belongs at the table. Bright, fresh, and fruity, but structured with mouthwatering acidity and minerality, the wine screams out for spicy Indian or fiery Thai, yet you wouldn’t go wrong pairing it with steak! Now that Japan's summer of ’22 has hit us early and hard, you couldn’t do better than to cool off with Trefethen's delicious 2021 Dry Riesling!

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¥5,060 (incl. tax)
2019 Trefethen

Eshcol (pronounced “esh-kol”) is a juicy Bordeaux blend that’s easy to enjoy casually without fretting over the occasion or the wine’s level of maturity. Sourced from the younger blocks on the Trefethen’s Main Ranch, Eshcol was the original name of the estate, way back in the 1800s when it helped establish the Napa Valley’s reputation for fine wine. The label is mandala-like in its complexity; a long stare will gradually reveal hidden items the Trefethens regard as key to sustainable viticulture and winemaking - butterflies, bats, bees, and barn owls among them. The blend changes somewhat each year. In 2019, it consists of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Eshcol is smooth and easy on the palate, with plenty of bright cherry and blackberry notes, hints of spice, and modest tannins. 

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¥6,270 (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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¥7,260 (incl. tax)
2020 Trefethen Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay

“Defined in the vineyard; refined in the cellar” is an apt description of the Trefethen style. The vineyard, planted in the cool climate and well-drained soils of the Oak Knoll AVA, is key to making a bright and delicate Chardonnay. But the winery’s preference for 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 (as well as moderate ABV of just 13.2%) 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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¥7,260 (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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¥7,700 (incl. tax)
2018 Trefethen

Inky dark purple - almost black - in color but loaded with fruit and spice, Dragon’s Tooth is an expressive blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. While Malbec dominates wine production in Argentina, it also happens to be of the five approved varieties in Bordeaux. 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. The named it “Dragon’s Tooth” because of the obsidian shards, black volcanic glass, that lie scattered like dragons' teeth amongst the rows of Malbec vines. The summer of 2018 was on the cool side; hence, the grapes developed plenty of complex flavors before being harvested in October. In 2018, the blend consists of 49% Malbec, 27% Petit Verdot, and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The winery suggests pairing this wine with earthy and rich dishes such as mushroom pasta. 

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¥10,560 (incl. tax)
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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¥10,780 (incl. tax)
2017 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 vines grow on gentle slopes, 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. 2017 can be seen as a difficult Napa vintage with its heat spikes and devastating late-October fires. Fortunately, the Trefethen winery, with its location in the cooler Oak Knoll District, avoided these challenges. In late 2021, the Connoisseur’s Guide to California wine awarded the 2017 HaLo 95 points, describing it as “a lavish wine long on deep fruit with a healthy measure of slightly caramelly oak in support. It is a big and potent wine, but it is not overdone, and its very fine tannic structure ensures a good decade of age, yet it is so very rich and outgoing now that is it is bound to test the patience of dedicated Cabernet collectors who are lucky enough to have a few bottles tucked away in their cellars.” 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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¥42,900 (incl. tax)