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Trinitas Cellars Blog
Welcome to the Trinitas Cellars Blog! We hope you join us for frequent updates on our vineyards, production, tasting room and wine education.
Looking for that perfect and delicate white wine to serve alongside your favorite winter green salad? Or, maybe you need to balance the richness of a creamy wild mushroom risotto? Well, we have you covered with our 2012 Psalms! Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend, Psalms carries a hint of grassiness with a delicious, delicate acidity that refreshes the palate and leaves your mouth wanting more. Pair the 2012 Psalms with grilled fish, salads, risotto, or with just your favorite glass!
My parents started Trinitas back in 2002…at the time I was 15 and a sophomore in high school. I knew nothing about wine (except that my parents loved to drink it!) and really didn’t understand the concept that we had a family winery since I grew up in southern California, away from the action. I also at the time had no idea where I wanted to go to college. I didn’t grow up one of those fanatic Notre Dame fans like some (although I would become one) who have Notre Dame in their blood, being Catholic and sometimes hearing about the school because of football was pretty much my only tie and knowledge of Notre Dame.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the course of the next couple years would change me as a person forever and also determine the trajectory my life would take. My Dad secretly had the dream that I would attend Notre Dame. He grew up in Michigan and dreamed of going to Notre Dame being the good Catholic boy he was, but he had to put himself through college and couldn’t afford Notre Dame tuition at the time. So he wanted to live vicariously through me. Like every good parent of a high schooler he started taking me on college visits, but for some reason Notre Dame had not one, but a few trips planned. We went to 2 or 3 Notre Dame football games and of course did the obligatory tailgate, visited the Grotto and the Basilica, and I’m sure took a dozen photos of the Golden Dome. At the time this was all happening I had no desire to move to Indiana to go to college but I obliged my father and went along to visit, and maybe had a little fun in the process.
Those trips dug at me from the inside though and when I was faced with the critical decision (for an 18 year old seemingly the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life) of deciding where to go to college it was a toss-up between a few schools, somehow Notre Dame was in the mix. After all that, torn and confused, I just had this moment of clarity one day that said “Notre Dame”. I think it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me because to this day when people ask: “so why did you decide to leave southern California and go to Notre Dame?” I still can’t really come up with an answer, other than now in hindsight I know it was the best decision I ever made.
There are many reasons why Notre Dame was the best decision I could’ve made, and my wife Betsy is #1. I won’t go into the whole back story of how unlikely and strange it was for us to meet but next time you are out in Napa have me tell you the story. Bottom line is that there was a gravity that drew both of us together against the odds. It was my sophomore year at Notre Dame, and like many sophomores I thought I was pretty cool and knew “what was up”. I lived in Siegfried hall (Go Ramblers!) and since it was early in the school year in the fall of 2006 I had to set the tone for the year and start it out right with a great “social gathering” in my dorm room 408 (us in 4A Siegfried were known for enjoying our social gatherings). My friend, Will, happened to have a friend of a friend from back home in northern California who just started as a freshman at Notre Dame and she lived in Farley hall right across the street, so I told him he needed to invite her and all of her friends. Low and behold the friend of a friend was Betsy. We hit it off that night dancing to some most likely crappy mix I put together that I thought was the coolest at the time, but she didn’t seem to care. We will put this story on hold for a minute.
The next great reason I went to Notre Dame was of course the education. I majored in business as an entrepreneurship major. I always knew I liked business but I fell in love with it at Notre Dame. Notre Dame taught me the tools and skills I would need later at Trinitas.
Of course no Notre Dame experience is complete without football. I was immersed within days of arriving as a freshman with the Notre Dame culture and it was boiling over with excitement since the start of school also meant the start of Notre Dame football. I quickly (as many do) turned from a mediocre football fan to an absolute outright fanatic. For those of you that went to Notre Dame you know that we all “drink the Kool-Aid” and we are instantly and forever intoxicated.
The next few years were great and filled with some of the fondest memories of my life to date. Then I recall a conversation I had with my mom Steph as a Junior. She called to check in on her son to see how much shenanigans I was involved with (answer was plenty and she knew it) and then she said “so what do you think you are going to do after school?” I answered saying “well I will probably move to Chicago or New York and work for a big company for a few years and I have lots of friends in those cities, and then we will see.” Well that wasn’t the answer that she wanted to hear…so she suggested “Really? What about moving back here and finding something in California?” I responded quickly and said “Mom I don’t want to move back right now. When I move back Dad is going to put me in charge of the winery which is not doing well. Then I’m going to have to move to Napa, I don’t want to move to Napa it’s boring and for old people!” She tried to convince me that wouldn’t happen and I could do what I wanted…but the conversation faded and we said goodbye. I wouldn’t know until 3 or 4 years later just how important that conversation with Mom had been.
So I finished undergrad and my Dad suggested I should get a Masters and I agreed and decided to do it right away rather than wait, and of course there was only one place I wanted to go (or stay in this case): Notre Dame. So I took a risk and applied to Notre Dame and Notre Dame only. Thankfully I got into the MBA program and loved it. By this time, Dad was sending a steady supply of Trinitas wine for us to enjoy…yes we were very lucky as college kids to be drinking great wine but my Dad is a smart guy…he knew we would all get hooked…and I know I did. I started really enjoying wine, graduating from Natty Light, Bud Light, and all the other standards in college (although let’s be honest I enjoy a good shotgun still…oops I said it!) There was a wine club in the MBA program and of course I gravitated to it learning about and tasting other wines and I had the opportunity to share Trinitas with everyone as well which was great. Little did I know this would be practice for the rest of my life.
Then graduation comes, it wasn’t the best time to be an MBA grad especially having gone straight through…so jobs I wanted I couldn’t have and jobs I got I didn’t want…but hey I was an entrepreneurship major in college so I decided to go out on my own. I moved back to southern California and moved in with Yao and Chad, some friends from Notre Dame. I started a consulting business of one, and my goal was to help small businesses since they didn’t have access to or couldn’t afford major consulting firms. I talked to Dad and said “hey I need to build a portfolio do you have a few projects for me to start with over the next 3-6 months? I know you have lots going on”. Dad thought it was a pretty good idea and he had one BIG project that needed some help and attention…Trinitas.
So all summer I worked on studying the business and the industry and I wrote a hundred page business plan for the “turn around” of the company. I helped in hiring a new manager to run the company and handed him the “playbook”. Then I left and moved onto the next project. A few weeks later I got word he left the company and we didn’t know what to do. I volunteered and said I would jump in temporarily to keep the projects we started rolling and I would be the interim manager until we hired a replacement. Months went by and I talked to my parents asking “why haven’t we interviewed anyone yet?” my parents responded informing me “oh we found our man!” That man was me. My first project as a consultant essentially became my last, but it was the best. I soon moved to Napa, officially took over Trinitas, and I loved every minute of it.
It was after maybe a year or so on the job, I was telling the story of the winery to some guests and how I got there and such. Then out of nowhere I remembered the conversation I had with my Mom Junior year and I found myself telling the story. It was then I realized everything I told my Mom as I sat in my dorm room in Siegfried came true, I moved to southern California, Dad put me in charge of the winery, and I moved to Napa. It then hit me…all those things not only came true but all the things I didn’t want to do became the things I loved. So I discovered that I loved the wine business and Trinitas.
During this time Betsy and I had taken time off and hadn’t really been in touch…but Notre Dame found a way to get us back together. It was fall of 2012 and I went to the Shamrock Series game in Chicago. Notre Dame was playing Miami at the Chicago Bears stadium and I was excited to see so many friends. Betsy and I crossed paths that weekend, and we clicked like no time had passed. We were engaged in April of 2013 and that summer we decided Betsy should come work with me at the winery. It was great having her join me and we made a great team working together. Betsy’s roll grew at Trinitas and shortly after we were married in 2014 she took on the role of CFO at the winery.
Around the same time we were contacted by Notre Dame and they told us about this Wine Academy they were putting together with other vintners who were grads. Betsy and I of course were excited and wanted to get involved. So we proceeded to host a few wine dinners at the Morris Inn featuring Trinitas. It was so much fun to share our love for wine and Trinitas at our University and Betsy and I were ecstatic! Little did we know this was only the beginning.
We met so many great people at Notre Dame through our events and the following spring of 2015 we got a call that the University was considering working with some Notre Dame families to make official Notre Dame wine. We were totally honored and shocked we were the vintners they spoke to since there are so many amazing wineries related to Notre Dame. Then they said, “we are presenting this idea to leadership tomorrow, think you can get us a solid plan and what a Notre Dame wine program would look like for us to present?” The answer was of course “No problem”. Betsy and I immediately left the office and holed ourselves up in our home office and worked on the plan and how everything worked for hours until the wee hours of the morning. It felt almost like a trip down memory lane of working late on a project for class like we used to in college, only this time it was real life and we were energized by excitement of the idea. We sent it off and awaited word. The initial response is it wasn’t the right time. We were naturally disappointed but still honored to have the opportunity.
A few months later I heard some folks we had been working with at Notre Dame on the project were coming to Napa. We always love having Notre Dame friends and family visit so we were of course excited! We had such a nice day with them and loved sharing our story and our wines. Then a few weeks later we got the call that the deal was back on and we needed to rework the plan. So we did and here we are today very honored and humbled to be the first winery to launch the Notre Dame Wine Academy!
Years ago I would’ve never seen myself at Notre Dame, yet today I literally couldn’t imagine (and don’t want to) what my life would be like if I hadn’t attended our beloved University. Also, even while at Notre Dame I had no desire to get into the family wine business yet here Betsy and I are. Now Betsy and I have the opportunity to combine our two great loves: Trinitas and Notre Dame. We couldn’t be happier about this opportunity and we are excited for the adventure to come. We also look forward to meeting many more new friends and fellow members of the Notre Dame family throughout this process and we look forward to hosting you in Napa or seeing you at a Notre Dame game!
It’s been an amazing journey…and it’s only beginning.
“And our hearts forever, LOVE THEE NOTRE DAME!”
My wine of the week is the 2012 Malbec. The Malbec was our tasting room visitors’ favorite wine all summer long (and mine too :))! Super smooth, with deep, dark, berry flavors and a hint of richness, this summer favorite is quickly turning into the Autumn “can’t miss” wine of the season. I highly recommend pairing the Malbec with steak kebobs (marinate the meat in a Soyaki marinade for a few hours, and either grill or broil the skewers). Whether paired with your favorite meal or just on its own, I’m confident our Malbec will tickle your taste buds!
Thanksgiving is an amazing time for family and most of all for TRADITIONS! We love Traditions…but…we are breaking from tradition this Thanksgiving. As some of you have heard Betsy and I are expecting triplets and they are probably coming out in two months. So Betsy is done travelling for the time being which means we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house. I’m super excited about it actually, I grew up always having every major family holiday hosted by my parents. I always dreamed that eventually I would be the one hosting these great holidays…well it didn’t happen when or why I imagined it but here we are! So my deal was if I’m hosting I am not going to be totally traditional, because I’m afraid of cooking Turkey and having a Griswold Family style outcome (if you don’t get the reference it is that time of year to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!!!). I am really a big fan of beef though and I know how to cook it perfectly. So I’m excited to be making a bone in Prime Ribeye Roast…I know Turkey is very traditional Thanksgiving but what is more American than a side of beef?!?!?! The good news is that it is perfect fare for the wines we will be drinking. We had an amazing little dinner with some of our Proprietors’ Club members at the Library November 7th and released a new single vineyard Cab we made the 2013 Pelkan Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon…yep we made ANOTHER new wine…but you’ll be as happy as I am about it. So lovely at such a young age that it is making an appearance at the Thanksgiving beef extravaganza at our house. Also great though for the rest of the day…because let’s all be honest the wine drinkingdoesn’t begin at the meal…is some 2012 Carneros Chardonnay. Goes with all those apps and is refreshing yet big enough that you can drink at cellar temp which is great now that the weather is cooling down (especially important for our friends in the snow!) The Mysteriama is also going to be around the house since it is an easy “gee I don’t know what to pair with this food” kind of wine. It goes with it all…cheese appetizer…yep! Shrimp? Yessir! Turkey…yep…but it is way better when you have cranberry sauce on it! This wine does it all, so we will have a healthy supply of the 2011 Mysteriama on hand. I know…some of you are saying “what about the Pinot?!” and you are correct this is an amazing Thanksgiving wine…but you already knew that so what do you need me for?!
On a side note…if any of you have a mother-in-law coming make sure you have the Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. Have to make them happy!!! See Stasi, I’m always thinking of you ;-)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We will all be enjoying great meals and even better wine this Thanksgiving, but we need to remember why we do it, it’s for all of the PEOPLE around us. I’m thankful for all of you who are enjoying Trinitas on your special day, and we will be praying for you all and thinking of you when we enjoy some Trinitas on Thanksgiving ourselves. Thanks for all your support and love…I hope we can return the favor one day.
God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and the prefect time to treat your friends and family to a glass, or two, of Trinitas wine. Our resident Sommelier, Sean Haarberg, has provided his Turkey Day recommendations for your consideration. Happy Holidays from our family to yours!
2012 Chardonnay – Delicious all on its own and amazing with creamy dishes like those buttery mashed potatoes.
2013 Sauvignon Blanc – A beautiful wine perfect for pre-dinner socializing. Pairs great with crab legs and shrimp dishes too.
2012 Pinot Noir – This is truly the classic Thanksgiving Dinner wine and will pair beautifully with your turkey, cranberry sauce, and leftover turkey sandwiches! The complexity of the Pinot Noir will complement the cornucopia of flavors at the table
2012 Mysteriama – This gorgeous red blend will pair just as well as our Pinot with your turkey dinner. Our Mysteriama has a bigger body than our Pinot, so Cab lovers will enjoy it as well. This is a great all around wine for both meals and socializing
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – Our Cab plays with the big boys and at a fraction of the price. This wine has amazing depth and is super expressive with notes of dark cherries and chocolate
We first planted our Estate Vineyard, located at the Meritage Resort, back in 2005. The grape growing business is not an easy one and we have had a lot of struggles along the way and challenges to get this vineyard to mature. Usually from planting to first high quality and quantity harvest it can take up 7 years. Up until recently, we have bottled very small quantities of our Estate Vineyard (2008 and 2009). Most of the fruit from 2010 – 2012 we used to blend into our Napa Valley Meritage.
We are very excited to announce our 2013 Estate Meritage, which has been a long time coming. We will be releasing this wine in November and hope you are excited to try the fruit of our labor on this hillside property.
We are also very excited about the upcoming vintages from this vineyard. We have our 2014 fruit still in barrel and our 2015 will be a great harvest. Over the weekend, we harvested the Merlot and Malbec blocks. The 2015 vintage will be an interesting one for our estate vineyard because we will be picking in 3 picks and the picks span over about 2-2.5 weeks. Historically we have mostly picked in 2 picks on back to back days. This vintage caused the different varietals to ripen at different rates and to make the best wine we want to pick at the peak of ripeness for each grapevarietal. The Merlot and Malbec came in first, we anticipate to pick the Petite Verdot next about a week behind the first pick, and we may pick the Cabernet Franc at the same time if it catches up. Then last but not least we will pick the Cabernet Sauvignon block which is the later ripening grape, although much earlier than usual this year. Overall the harvest has been early in 2015 and this vineyard is about 3 weeks ahead of our previous earliest harvest, this early ripening definitely is the cause for the uneven ripening in the different blocks.
Amazingly, we believe that we will likely finish harvesting all of our grapes before October begins, this will be a first at Trinitas Cellars as we usually go on picking our big reds in Napa through the 3rd week in October if not later. Guess that means our winemaker, Kevin, is going to have a pretty relaxing November and December!
Part VI: Lafayette to Baton Rouge
Tough to wake up this morning… Betsy probably tattled on me about the shenanigans we got into last night with Bonnie, but what a fun time! It was a short stay in Lafayette, but a good one! Betsy and I woke up and gathered our bags (we did a very poor job of packing “lightly” for this trip)! Bonnie was so kind as to make us both some delicious eggs, perfectly seasoned with Tony’s Creole seasoning (one of my personal favorites in the kitchen at home) and bacon! We enjoyed breakfast together and then had to hit the road to head to Baton Rouge.
The morning was beautiful, the sun was shining and we entered Baton Rouge just before 11 am, pulling into downtown and seeing the old capitol building and some other beautiful architecture. Our first stop was right in the heart of it, The Little Village. We went straight there where we met up with Paul Bologna himself and one of his reps, John, who we would be spending the day with. We tasted through the wines with Kevin at the Little Village, who funny enough, grew up in the same area as Brandy and knew her growing up. We exchanged stories about our adventures out in Lettsworth over the weekend and were excited to share some of our newer releases with Kevin.
Next, we headed over to Maxwell’s Market where we met owners, Catherine and Ron. Catherine had actually played a big role in helping Trinitas get to the Louisiana market and we were definitely excited to meet her in person to thank her. Catherine saw my dad speak on EWTN one night and texted Paul Bologna at about 10 pm to ask him to get some of that Trinitas wine! As luck would have it, Paul actually already had Trinitas samples in his office that had been sitting there for four months and he just needed a sign to actually try them out!
After catching up with Catherine, we headed over to Bistro Byronz, a newer restaurant with a great lunch and dinner menu. We met with Emilie, the owner there and were excited to show her the new 2013 Proprietors’ Reserve Chardonnay. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch and it was nice to spend some time talking with Emilie; her family and Paul’s family go way back so we also learned a little bit of the history of the wine distribution industry around Louisiana.
For our next stop, we ventured over to French Market Bistro and tasted in the bar there. The front of the restaurant has a great display of wines and we were excited to see a few bottles on the rack that we recognized. The 2012 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was tasting quite delicious today!
Being that our family still owns and operates grocery stores in Michigan, this next stop was a fun one for me. We visited Alexander’s Highland Market, an independent grocery store. The wine selection was extensive and Betsy and I got a little lost just looking around at all of the variety! Definitely somewhere we would love to shop around for groceries or wine.
We met with Jesse and headed upstairs to taste. While we were tasting, all of a sudden all of our phones started blowing up at the same time…. What in the world?! We all looked at them to see what the racket was all about and saw an emergency alert “FLASH FLOOD WARNING” for our area… that’s odd, it was sunny all morning and even sunny when we walked into the store. The room that we were in above the market had no windows, so we couldn’t see outside, but sure enough, within minutes we could here the thunderous down pour of rain on the roof. I pulled up the radar on my phone to see what was going on….
Not eager to go back outside, we took our time talking about the wines and tasting with Jesse before finally venturing back outside. By the time we left, the only evidence of rain was the water on the ground… guess we just missed the worst of the rain!
We made one last stop for the end of the day at Maxwell’s Market on the other side of town. We dropped in and said hi and met Trent there but he didn’t have enough time to taste wine with us so we did not stay too long. Great little market though!
John dropped us off at my hotel in downtown Baton Rouge. Nice place with a great location, we freshened up a bit and Betsy decided it was time for an afternoon beverage so we ventured out for a walk around town and stopped at PJ’s coffee shop. Apparently PJ’s is a Louisiana coffee chain. Betsy got the Ginger Peach iced tea and I tried an iced cappuccino. Both were delicious!
John picked us up a few minutes later and we headed over to Bin77 for our Trinitas wine dinner! Betsy and I were particularly excited since we knew many of the attendees that had told us they were coming and had heard great things about the restaurant! When we arrived, we met the owner, Brian, and his wife, Tiffany, and he showed us around the place, including their new expansion next door.
As part of the new expansion, there is a private loft space above the bar that seats 24 people which is pretty neat! Brian had hoped to have the Trinitas wine dinner up there, but due to the number of RSVPs, there was not enough room! Nervous about the weather, they had moved the dinner back and forth from inside to outside and back and finally settled on risking it and having the dinner outside in the courtyard, praying that the rain would hold off!
We could not have asked for a better night! The skies stayed clear, the air cooled off and we had live music and incredible cuisine all perfectly paired with great company and great wine!
The menu was amazing… I won’t even try to describe and these pictures probably won’t do it justice, but well done!
Betsy and I truly enjoyed spending time with some dear old friends as well as some of our newer friends, including the FIRST official members of the newest level of the Wine Society, the Proprietors’ Club as well as some of our most loyal Trinitas friends and Fidelis members, Joe and Paula:
This crowd was too much fun! I am maybe a little bit glad that they put the dinner outside so that we were not too loud for other guests. We even had some of Brandy’s friends and family who we partied with on Saturday come and share in the evening with us:
We were happy to share a wonderful evening with all and look forward to returning to Bin77 again. After the dinner, Betsy had to head back to New Orleans for a 6 am flight out. I am bummed that this is the end of our trip together as we have had such a wonderful time enjoying the company of our Louisiana friends and Trinitas family here. I’m staying in Baton Rouge one more day to visit some more places and for another fun wine dinner tomorrow night. Betsy is headed up to Indiana for a wine dinner tomorrow at Sorin’s at Notre Dame. Wish we could both be in two places at once as both dinners should be a lot of fun!
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