Central Valley region
Creative Spirit and Can-Do Attitude are Hallmarks of Trentadue's Success
In 1959, after twenty-five years of farming fruit orchards in California’s Santa Clara Valley, the Trentadue family decided it was time to move on. “We were pushed out by the subdivisions,” says patriarch Leo Trentadue. “You can’t farm properly with housing tracts and businesses all around you,” he adds. Indeed, for that area is now the heart of California’s so-called “Silicon Valley,” home to some of the world’s leading high-tech companies.
With the thought of continuing his fruit farming elsewhere in California, Leo began searching the Central Valley where some of his former neighbors had previously relocated. After looking in vain for several months, his attention was diverted to Sonoma County. An uncle, who was already farming there, suggested that he look at a ranch that was for sale. The property was comprised of 117 acres of prune and apple trees, and about 50 acres of unusually mature grapevines. In fact, these vines were planted back in the 1880s and were producing small yields of highly concentrated, excellent quality fruit. With the purchase of the ranch in 1959, Leo Trentadue had suddenly become a grape farmer.
Under the watchful eye of Leo’s father, Joseph who was a veteran winemaker, they began removing prunes and apples and planting grapes. These vines were among the very first to be planted in Sonoma County since the days of Prohibition. Those “new” plantings today are more than 40 years old, and the “old” vines are more than 100 years old!
Over the next ten years, the Trentadues added over one hundred additional acres and planted a multitude of varietals. All of the grapes were sold to neighboring wineries. “We’ve been selling fruit to wineries like Ridge, Seghesio and Asti for years,” reveals Leo. “They all encouraged me to start my own winery and finally I did,” he explains. In 1969 he converted an old barn on the property into a makeshift winery until a permanent structure was built several years later. “We were just playing around at first,” he says half kidding. “We made about 3,000 gallons of 5 or 6 different varietals and it was snapped up virtually overnight!”
Knowing they were on to something, Leo continued to expand the winery operation. Amazingly, at one point Trentadue Winery had 23 different wines offered for sale! In 1990 the winery replaced all of their old winemaking equipment with state-of-the-art machinery. They brought in all new barrels, hired a new winemaker and down to the last detail, redesigned their label. A smart decision was made to pare the wine offerings down to a more manageable seven.
Today, Trentadue Winery is still 100% family owned. Leo Trentadue and wife, Evelyn are both still active in the winery. Their son Victor oversees the vineyards as well as the winery day-to-day operations. One of their two daughters, Annette, works in the tasting room and helps organize special winery events. Both Victor and Annette have children who also occasionally work at the winery, starting a fourth generation of Trentadue Winery history.
Wine industry veteran Miro Tcholakov (Meer-oh Choe-la-kawv) handles the winery’s 15,000 case production of mostly red wines. Trentadue is a high quality producer of primarily, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Petite Sirah and a special red blend they call “Old Patch Red.” Growing our family winery continues to be a great adventure,” says an obviously proud Leo Trentadue.
Miro Tcholakov - one of the top 20 winemakers in America
Born and raised in northern Bulgaria, Miro Tcholakov became winemaker at Trentadue Winery in the summer of 1999, and has since produced wines with an unbelievable quantity of accolades from the professional wine press. Trentadue’s cabinets are filled with over 60 Gold Medals, more than 30 Double Gold and Best of Class, and hundreds of Silver Medals! In 2005, Miro was chosen by popular media as one of the top 20 winemakers in America. He also handcrafts wines for his own label, Miro Cellars.
The Trentadue Team
‘Growing our family winery continues to be a great adventure,” says an obviously proud Leo Trentadue. In Italian, the word Trentadue means ‘thirty-two,” thus the 32 designation on the wine label. Speculation is that the family name comes from a group of 32 emigrants who settled in their hometown area of Bari, Italy centuries ago. Leo’s father was born in Italy in the late 1890s. At the age of 16, he and his family came to America at a time of growing strife and threat of war in Europe. After various odd jobs and a stint in the Army, Leo’s father was preparing to go back to his homeland. ‘That’s when he spotted a ‘Come to Sunny California’ poster,” Leo recounts. ‘He had nothing to lose so he went to California and never left!” he adds.
By the mid 1930s he was able to buy some ranch land near San Francisco that he converted to fruit orchards. ‘I grew up working in those orchards,” recalls Leo, ‘most of my childhood, every day after school and every weekend. So at the time I wasn’t real anxious to keep doing that for the rest of my life.” After finishing high school, Leo spent a few years in the Army. Still not entirely enthusiastic about the prospects of farm life, he enrolled at San Jose State University to earn a degree in horology (the science of measuring time and the art of watch making). He subsequently bought a jewelry store and ran it for several years until 1954 when the pull of the land finally brought him back to the family orchard farm. A few years later succumbing to urban sprawl, Leo and his family sold the orchard farm and moved to Sonoma. Leo and his wife Evelyn live on the vineyard property in Sonoma that they purchased in 1959. Although they easily could, they are not interested in becoming a big winery operation like a lot of their neighbors. Their goal is simple: ‘We want to continue making good wines,” states Leo. ‘And maintain the farm lifestyle to which we are accustomed.”
Wine industry veteran Miro Tcholakov (Meer-oh Choe-la-kawv) handles the winemaking. Born in a grape-growing and winemaking area of Bulgaria, Miro’s love of wine began at an early age. As a small boy Miro helped his grandfather work their small family vineyard and make wines. ‘We little boys were thrown in vats of grapes up to our chins. It was hot, sticky and full of bees, but it was the highlight of every year,” says Miro. Before joining Trentadue Winery, Miro worked at Dry Creek Vineyards where he was Cellar Master and then Assistant Winemaker. He acted as liaison between the winemaker and the wine, making sure that the winemaker’s decisions were followed throughout the winemaking. ‘I’m with the wine all the time,” says Miro. ‘I follow its progress from the vine, through crush, fermentation, racking, barrel work, blending, filtration and bottling. Then it’s out of my hands.”
To complement his early induction into winemaking, Miro graduated with high honors from the Higher Institute of Agriculture in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, with a degree in viticulture and enology. Since moving to California, Miro has supplemented his experience with courses in red wine production at University of California, Davis, and supervisory management classes at Santa Rosa Junior College in Sonoma County.
Trentadue Winery is primarily a red-wine winery, giving emphasis to Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and a special red blend they call ‘Old Patch Red.” Conceived almost 20 years ago, Old Patch Red is a unique field blend named for the original 1896 plantings, and some of the vines are still producing today. Recently, the winery introduced a collection of super premium wines they call La Storia, that are crafted from the best grapes available to the winemaker, which are aged in the best oak barrels until the optimum time to release. They currently have a Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, a red blend named ‘Cuvee 32,” and a Red Meritage.