Los Carneros AVA
Growing exceptional grapes for over 30 years in the Carneros region
The dichotomy that is Truchard Vineyards has become the largest vineyard and winery operation within the exalted Carneros Appellation of Napa Valley. Located near the southern end of Napa Valley (where the long and stretchy fingers of San Pablo Bay touch the land), the 400 acres of Truchard Vineyards are arguably the finest in the Napa Valley for Burgundian varietals. The acreage comprises 16 different parcels of land that all touch in one way or another. More than 270 acres are under vine and are sold to a large number of topflight wineries (20) within the area. “It’s not that we went our searching for additional land,” began Dr. Tony Truchard, co-owner of Truchard Vineyards with his wife Jo Ann. “It just sort of happened over a long period of time. People came to us and we wound up making a deal with them.” Along the way, the reputation of Truchard Vineyards continued to grow as the Carneros area began earning the plaudits of wineries and wine writers on an international basis.
“We normally sell almost 70% of our grapes,” informed Dr. Truchard. “The other 30% goes into our program for Truchard Vineyards wines, and that amounts to around 15,000 cases on an annual basis.” The second aspect of the dichotomy, the winery also called Truchard Vineyards, began operation more than two decades ago when the Truchards opted to open a winery on their property with which to make their own wines. With the addition of Truchard Vineyards’ 10,500 square foot wine cave, the winery has become a beautiful, modern facility in the Carneros wine region.
“I was getting ready to retire from my medical practice and I wanted to start a winery,” Truchard added. “The wineries that we were selling our fruit to were making great wines and winning medals and awards and I felt strongly that we could do the same. We had a great French name and a wonderful old barn that could be easily converted to a winery.” That event occurred in 1989 with the initial offering of only 1,000 cases. The winery prospered and reached its present day levels by design. A few years later, a 10,500 square foot wine cave was added, making the winery a beautiful state-of-the-art winemaking facility and a showplace for the Carneros region.
“We are very comfortable with the way things are now and with the number of cases we produce. If we get any larger, we will have to increase our staff and will lose a little of our hands on approach to making our wines,” he continued. The old barn became the symbol for Truchard Vineyards and adorns the top of the wine label.
Truchard Vineyards is truly a family affair with both Dr. Tony Truchard and wife Jo Ann handing different aspects of the winery operation on a daily basis. The couple’s two sons, Anthony II, 35, and John, 38, also play a part in the winery’s function. Anthony serves as the sales and marketing arm while John helps out on an as needed basis. John owns his own vineyard management company as well as his own winery (John Anthony Vineyards) and makes his equipment and workforce available to Truchard Vineyards. Visitors to Truchard Vineyards enjoy a barbecue and wine tasting event with views of the estate’s gazebo, wine cave, and vineyards.
Truchard Vineyards is a rarity in the Napa Valley wine colony in that it is an established winery that has chosen to remain small as far as production is concerned. Many of the startup wineries in the area chose expansion as their goal and are no longer in business for one reason or another. We are delighted that Truchard Vineyards chose the more conservative approach and are delighted to be able to share its wonderful wines with you. Tours are encouraged at Truchard Vineyards, but on an appointment only basis due to space restrictions.
About the Vineyard
It can be properly stated that Truchard Vineyards is the most important vineyard owner in the Carneros growing region due to their overall acreage. Lying at the bottom of both Sonoma County and Napa Valley, the Carneros Region is arguably the finest for Burgundian grapes, namely the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Touching the upper reaches of San Pablo Bay (San Francisco Bay) the often fog-shrouded confines of the Carneros is perfect for the ill-tempered Burgundian varietals. As the sun burns off the morning fog, a near perfect environment for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir emerges for the hot afternoons. After sunset, the daily rejuvenation of grapevines begins again as temperatures fall and the fog returns.
More specifically, Truchard’s estate vineyard is comprised of a series of hills and valleys, which contain a variety of soils: clay, shale, sandstone, volcanic rock and ash. The various combinations of terrain, geology, and marine-moderated temperatures provide unique winegrowing conditions. Currently the vineyard grows 10 different grape varieties, making it one of the most diverse estate vineyards in California.
Truchard Vineyards uses only their estate-grown fruit for its upscale portfolio of wines.
The Art of Fine Wine
Painted by Jeffrey B. Smith, a California watercolor artist who enjoys creating work that celebrates the magnificence of the state’s landscape.
Sal De Ianni - Winemaker
Winemaker Sal De Ianni (eye-ann-ee) is a Wisconsin (Milwaukee) native and another in the long line of successful UC Davis-educated winemakers. De Ianni discovered wine while attending Northwestern where he received a BS in Chemistry and a MS in Analytical Chemistry. His second masters, this one in Enology, came in 1996. His work resume includes stints at Hess Collection and Cuvaison Winery in Napa Valley as well as a brief work experience at the ultra-premium Pierro Margaret River Vineyards in Western Australia.
De Ianni joined Truchard Vineyards in January of 1998 and has been responsible for most of the winery’s award winning wines. His unique philosophy includes a hands-off approach to winemaking. He has stated, ‘Do all of the hard work in the vineyard and the winemaking is easy. Let the vineyard express itself.”
Tony and Jo Ann Truchard
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Tony Truchard and his lovely wife Jo Ann will tell you they are the complete couple that compliments each other in the multi-faceted industry that is the California wine business. The pair is well respected as are their wines that have won so many medals in the history of Truchard Vineyards as to be too many to count.
How this doctor of internal medicine and his wife came to be in the wine business is the kind of story that Napa Valley and its environs are famous for.
The Truchards came to California in 1972, when Tony was still in the military and serving his commitment to the US Army. Both were from small towns in Texas and Tony’s family had owned and operated a farm for many years. Tony’s grandfather, Jean-Marie Truchard had emigrated from France (Lyon, the culinary capital of France) in the late 19th Century and settled in Texas. Jean-Marie decided to attempt vineyards and a winery in southern Texas but climate and soils forced him to settle for a farm involving cattle and the like. Little Tony Truchard soon learned that he loved to grow things, a factor that would influence his later life’s work.
The army base in Northern California allowed the Truchards easy access to Napa Valley and the rest of the great vineyard land of California. In 1974, the couple began actively seeking some land with the idea of growing grapes to sell to existing wineries. The California wine boom was in its infancy and the Truchards made the most of their most excellent opportunity.
According to Jo Ann Truchard, ‘We bought some land in what was then called South Napa Valley, a 21-acre parcel that was formerly a prune orchard,” she recalled. ‘There were some concerns about water availability but the government agency helped us out and we decided to buy the property.”
The land in the sleepy section of Napa Valley eventually became known as Carneros, and was ultimately recognized by most growers as the best possible land for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Napa Valley. Carneros was granted its own appellation in 1983, and the Truchards were well on their way to becoming the largest landowners in the whole of Carneros.
‘Tony still had his practice and we were selling fruit to all the top wineries,” Jo Ann Truchard continued. ‘Around 1990, we decided to do it for ourselves and actually start Truchard Vineyards winery. Tony decided to end his practice the following year and devote all his time to the vineyards and the winery. We were blessed with the success we have enjoyed, but my husband has been successful at everything he has ever attempted, so I guess I wasn’t really surprised with the achievements of our wines.”
Along the way the Truchards had six children, two boys and four girls. Both boys are in the wine business and the girls are now married, having worked in the winery and vineyards when they were younger. The entire family continues to promote Truchard Vineyards whenever possible and have stayed a really close knit family.