history of Sutter Home Winery dates back to 1874, when a Swiss-German immigrant
named John Thomann established a small winery and distillery in the heart of California's
Napa Valley. After Thomann died in 1900, his heirs sold the winery and the fine
Victorian home Thomann had built beside it to another Swiss family, the Leuenbergers,
who rechristened the estate Sutter Home.
The advent of Prohibition in 1918 shut down Sutter Home, and it remained abandoned
until 1947, when it was purchased by John and Mario Trinchero, Italian immigrant
brothers whose family had long been active in the Italian wine business. Relocating
from New York City to the small town of St. Helena, the Trincheros began producing
a diverse assortment of Napa Valley wines.
"We were a real mom-and-pop
operation," recalls Bob Trinchero, Mario's son, and his uncle John's successor
as winemaker. "If you could carry or roll a container through our door, we'd fill
it up for you." Today, Bob, his brother, Roger, and sister, Vera, continue to
operate Sutter Home according to the motto originated by their father and uncle:
"A great product for a fair price."
As they inherited stewardship of Sutter Home in the late 1960s and early '70s,
the younger Trincheros affected some dramatic changes, most notably a shift in
the winery's production from generic wines to premium varietal wines.
A turning point occurred in 1968, when Bob Trinchero sampled a homemade zinfandel
produced from grapes grown in the Sierra foothills, California's famed Gold Rush
country. Impressed by the character and intensity of this robust, spicy red wine,
Bob began vinifying Amador County zinfandel.
In the late 19th century, Amador had been the heart of a vibrant Sierra foothill
wine industry, but this frontier wine community had been devastated by Prohibition
and remained dormant after Repeal. Sutter Home became the first north coast winery
after Prohibition to produce commercial wine from Sierra foothill grapes.
Sutter Home's 1968 Amador County Zinfandel, vinified from 85 year-old vines, grown
on the Deaver Ranch in Amador's Shenandoah Valley, awakened wine lovers to the
quality potential of Sierra foothill viticulture and to the zinfandel grape's
capacity to produce wines as flavorful and complex as those made from cabernet
sauvignon. The result was a rejuvenation of the historic Sierra foothill wine
growing region. The first new winery to emerge in the region was Montevina, which
the Trinchero family purchased in 1988. Visit the Website of Montevina, the Amador
County win- ery also owned by the Trinchero family.
In 1972, another of Bob Trinchero's innovations provided the American wine consumer
with an entirely new style of premium wine. Experimenting with ways to make his
Amador zinfandel even more robust, Trinchero drew off some of the free run juice
and fermented it as a 'white' wine. This pale pink zinfandel, lighter-bodied and
more delicately flavored than its red counterpart, became a favorite of the winery's
tasting room clientele, prompting Trinchero to increase it's production while
refining the wine's style to accentuate the fruitiness his customers found so
Before long, the Trincheros were hard-pressed to meet ever-escalating demand for
the wine they originally called Oeil de Perdrix (Eye of the Partridge). Production,
which began in 1972 at 220 cases, grew exponentially throughout the 1980's, until,
by 1987, Sutter Home White Zinfandel had become the best-selling premium wine
in the United States, a distinction it retains today.
Far removed from the days when White Zinfandel accounted for virtually its entire
production, Sutter Home's wine portfolio now includes chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon,
merlot, merlot rose, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, gewurztraminer, chenin blanc,
The winery has also become a trend-setter in the field of premium wine packaging,
pioneering 187 ml, single-serve varietal wines, a premium non-cork closure call
the VinLocTM, and clear, pressure-sensitive wine labels.
Reaching out to non-drinkers and situational abstainers such as expectant mothers
and designated drivers, Sutter Home, in 1992, introduced Fre, now the country's
best-selling line nonalcoholic wines. That same year, the winery debuted a line
of "beverage wines" called Soléo, which recently has been expanded to include
three fruit-flavored wines. Another line of fruit flavored wines, Portico, debuted
In 1998, the Trincheros celebrated their 50th anniversary in Napa Valley. To mark
the milestone and to honor their late father, Mario, the family introduced an
ultra-premium Napa Valley wine brand called M. Trinchero Founder's Estate, featuring
barrel-fermented Chardonnay and estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon produced by acclaimed
winemaker Derek Holstein. A second tier of M. Trinchero varietals, Coastal Selection,
was released on September 1, 1999.
Despite its dramatic growth
- the winery is now the fourth largest in the United States - Sutter Home remains
very much a family-run winery. Bob Trinchero, who supervises grapegrowing and
winemaking, is chairman of the board and chief executive officer. Roger Trinchero,
who oversees sales, marketing, and administrative functions, is Sutter Home's
president and chief operating officer. And Vera Trinchero Torres is the winery's
secretary. Vera's two sons, Tony and Bob, are vice-presidents at the winery.
Although much as changed for the Trincheros and Sutter Home, the motto and philosophy
originated by their father more than a half-century ago remains the same: "A great
product for a fair price."
Sutter Home Winery / 277 St. Helena Hwy (Hwy. 29) South / St. Helena, CA 94574