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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.
Excited to share this great feature from the Notre Dame Alumni Magazine:
A Napa Love Story
By Julie Sobel
It's easy enough to spot Garrett and Betsy Busch at tailgates: They're the ones who bring wine.
It may not be the typical drink choice for tailgating, but not much about the Busches’ lives is typical. Together, the husband and wife team run a small Napa Valley winery called Trinitas Cellars.
The two Notre Dame alums met the first week of Betsy’s freshman year. She attended a dorm party that Garrett, a sophomore, was hosting. "I liked to host parties at school,” he says, “and now I do it for my job.”
Betsy went on to major in accounting, and graduated in 2010. She earned a master’s in accounting from Notre Dame the following year. Garrett graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Entrepreneurship, and earned his M.B.A. in 2010.
Garrett’s parents, Tim and Steph Busch, founded Trinitas in 2002. The Busches started taking trips to Napa from their Orange County home in the 1980s, and fell in love with the area and the wine business. Garrett hadn’t planned on going into the wine business after school. But after getting his M.B.A., his parents hired him to help with the winery, which was struggling financially.
He made a business plan and ultimately agreed to manage Trinitas on an interim basis. He ended up staying on as manager – and the winery hasturned around with him at the helm.
"I've been learning everything I can about it, kind of on the job training since then,” says Garrett, who is now focused on growing the business and getting more exposure. “We’re doing some fun stuff, some unique stuff, we’re making good wine, and we’re having fun doing it.”
Meanwhile, Garrett and Betsy got engaged, and she started working at the winery full-time last year. "We came to the conclusion that there's a lot of work to do up here and a lot of my skills are definitely relevant to the needs that we had," she says. The transition was a big adjustment for Betsy, who had never worked for a small business before – or a winery. She took some wine classes and learned, as Garrett had, on the job. “I drank a lot of wine in the process," she laughs.
When the couple got married in June, they held their wedding reception at the Meritage Resort & Spa, the Busch property where the Trinitas tasting room is located. And Garrett had a wine-related surprise for Betsy at the wedding. It was the first time Trinitas had made a sparkling wine, which they were releasing the same month. They were calling the wine “BB,” short for “Busch Bubbles.” But at the wedding, Garrett made a toast where he dedicated the wine to Betsy, welcoming her to the family as “Betsy Busch.”
It wasn’t the first time Trinitas used wordplay in a wine name – though the names are usually of a religious nature. Trinitas is the Latin word for Trinity, and the Busches have integrated Catholicism into their business. “There's a strong faith-based thread through the winery,” says Garrett. They make a rose wine called "Rose’ary," and a white blend called "Psalms." They have particularly gotten some attention for their pope-specific wines, a tradition they started in 2006 with a zinfandel called "RatZINger" for Pope Benedict XVI. Tim and Steph Busch presented the wine to the Pope during their annual April trip to Rome.
Garrett recalls his father calling him shortly after Pope Benedict retired in February 2013, reminding him that they’d need a new wine for the new Pope, whom he and his wife would see on their April trip.
"I'm like dad, you own this winery, you understand how this works,” Garrett recalled. “I can't invent a wine in 30 days." But Garrett did already have a wine in mind for Pope Francis – a Cabernet Franc called CABERNET FRANCis.
"That was even easier than RatZINger to come up with," he says. The wine was still in barrel this April, but Trinitas’ winemaker and Garrett went and hand-bottled a case for his parents’ trip to Italy. “I was sitting there at my kitchen table hand-labeling bottles, and then it hit me, ‘This is really weird, I’m making something at my kitchen table that’s going to end up in the Pope’s hands next week.’”
Just another day in the wine business for Garrett and Betsy.
Running a company (and sharing an office) as a couple has its challenges – but Garrett and Betsy agree it’s working well for them. "I think originally Betsy was a little nervous," Garrett ventures. "We do things differently, but I think we're very cognizant of the ways that we differ," adds Betsy. "We're not afraid to play devil's advocate with each other," and push each other, she says. Garrett also notes that working in the family business is very consuming, and that they’d see much less of each other if Betsy were working elsewhere.
“We’re glad we’re a team, and doing this together,” he says.
What in the world is a California wine producer doing importing and selling Italian wines? I know, it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but there is something about these incredible Amarone wines from Italy that we cannot get enough of and just had to share with our friends and Trinitas family!
The quest to make Amarone and sell it as part of the Trinitas portfolio came from the beginning. Our founders, Tim and Steph Busch, had always had a love for Amarone and at the beginning, Tim went in search of someone who could produce a wine here in Napa that would stand up to some of his favorites from Valpolicella Classico, the area in Italy near Verona that is known for producing Amarone. After being called crazy a few times and failed attempts to find someone willing to help take on this new challenge, Tim changed gears and decided to go straight to the source: to Italy!
Nothing is by accident and it seemed meant to be that Tim met Armando Fumanelli and became fast friends. Armando and his family live in the area of Verona called “Valpolicella Classico”. The family is the largest land owners of that region of Italy and has over 120 acres of Amarone vineyards (of the 3 varietals that they use in their Amarone) and have been growing grapes and producing wines since the 15th century!
After meeting and due to his love of the wine, Tim was able to work out a deal with Armando to introduce the Fumanelli's Amarone to the Trinitas porfolio of wines and Trinitas officially released the 2006 Amarone, bringing this incredibly complex and sophisticated wine to share with our friends here in Napa. Fascinated by this wine? Besides the incredible taste and quality of the wine, the winemaking process is very interesting and we enjoy learning more and more about it, while drinking it, of course!
When picking, the Fumanelli family uses a double selection method and picks only the best grapes off the vine and then sorts them on a sorting table and picks out the best of the best. By law, the Amarone grapes have a minimum of 2 months drying time; however, typically the Fumanelli Amarone grapes are dried for 90-120 days which means they typically do not destem and press the grapes until mid-January. This extended drying period leads to losing about 50% of the volume while drying, meaning it takes 5 pounds of grapes to get enough juice to fill one 750 ml bottle.
Amarone is a traditional product in Italy, meaning that there are various rules that apply to the winemaking process. In addition to the grapes needing to be dried for at least two months, the wine must also spend a minimum of 2 years in barrel and a minimum of 5 months in bottle. Since these are the minimum requirements, they are actually quite different from the aging process Fumanelli uses. The Fumanelli’s typically age the wine for 3-5 years in barrel. During this time it is extremely important to not oxidize the wine as you have 700-800 bottles of wine per barrel so temperature control and security of the barrels is very important; however, the Fumanelli cellar was built in 1600 and is in limestone so it stays naturally cool. They do not have any heaters, coolers or humidifiers.
Additionally, the minimum alcohol percentage on an Amarone wine is 15% and 16% for a “Riserva”. This high alcohol requirement ensures that no one is watering back their Amarone.
The Fumanelli family uses only French oak and they use 500L barrels, which are just over double the size of the barrels we use on most of our wines here in Napa (typically our barrels are 225L). The Fumanelli’s use their barrles once and then sell them after one use because one use is typically about 4 years.
The corks used on the Amarone are Portugese corks that are hand selected and the cost of this raw material alone is $2.00 per cork.
While we know many of you would prefer to travel to Italy and try the wine direct from the source, we know that's not always possible. If you are looking for an adventure and want to learn more about this incredible wine and how we found it and taste through a vertical of Italian wines, join us for our Taste of Italy experience at the Trinitas Library. More information available here.
Editor's Note: We are thrilled to add a new segment to our blog titled "Stories From The Road". At Trinitas, we are fortunate enough to have a great team that travels near and far to spread the Trinitas love, and get our wines into stores, shops, and resturaunts all over the country. As you may know, Trinitas wines can be found in about 14 states currently, and we only hope to grow that number over the years.
Through this idea, we asked our team to introduce us to some of the people they meet on the road, and the stories that come out of these meetings. Wine itself is a social being that brings people together, creates memories, and brings out some really great stories.
These are their Stories From The Road...
I visited an amazing little liquor store across from the Grand Ole’ Opry. It is the oldest liquor store in Nashville and is in the highest income area of the entire state. There are many musicians and famous country stars that buy from Joe Hobb’s wine shop - High Note Wine and Spirits. His father started the store and Joe has opened two more wine shops in the area. We tasted through all of our wines. His favorite was the 2010 PR Chard but when he got to our Oakville Cab he was floored. He said, “this is fantastic and I’ve been looking for something to replace this bottle”. He walked over and picked up a bottle of the Stags Leap Artemeis, and said, “your cab is better than that, and the only other person who comes in here to buy the Stags Leap is Blake Shelton... for Miranda, but I think she will like the Trinitas better!”
Joe and I talked for a while longer and I asked if I could take a picture of him with our wines, and I said, “see, now you can be in our famous monthly newsletter.” He laughed a little and said... “FAMOUS?!?!, I’m headed over to Randy Travis’ house tonight, I’ll bring him some of your wine!”
Joe picked up the Chard, Petite, and Cab for his shop. So Nashville fans, make sure to stop into High Note Wine and Spirits to pick up your Trinitas Wines, and let Joe know that yes, he is famous!
As our crew worked hard this morning to bring in the last bit of Petite Sirah, we are happy report that the 2014 harvest season has come to a close! Even though the weather cooperated for the most part and brought us great fruit, this harvest has been challenging logistically speaking.
This is the earliest harvest most vintners can remember. This is Trinitas’s 13th harvest, and definitely the earliest we have ever seen. We found ourselves picking grapes three to four weeks before we normally do and the fruit is coming in ripe and delicious. Bud-break began in February and the warm dry weather was consistent through the rest of the harvest season bringing us a harvest in August and September with only a few vineyards left to pick in October.
The earthquake hit right at the onset of harvest which really threw us all for a loop, and made everyone extremely busy. Normally this time of year is very busy with preparing for harvest, but cleaning up the mess of the quake made it even more hectic! We were forced to push off some of our picks, organization in the cellar was a challenge, and clean up took about three weeks until it was totally finished. While we were still cleaning, we had to worry about incoming fruit, crushing, fermentations, and also make sure we still got out to the vineyards to check on fruit to be picked later. On top of that, barrel management is always difficult and many barrels that were empty ready for incoming juice were destroyed in the quake so we had some last minute scrambling to find new barrels. Even after the initial sorting, and only after filling we determined there were still compromised barrels leaking and we had to rush to find replacements and repair damaged ones.
This time of year is always a challenge to find oak, but it was worse because everyone was scrambling to replace barrels that were damaged. On top of all of that, it would have been a grueling harvest anyway since it was one of the more compacted harvests in recent memory, 2012 would be comparable but still was not even as quick as this harvest. This means a lot of fruit was ready all at the same time and some days we were picking four to five different blocks when normally we peak at two to three in one day max. That put more stress on the cellar crew but they made it through with shining colors! The good news for the cellar team is they will get to take their post-harvest vacations way earlier this year…and that R&R is much needed and definitely deserved after this unforgettable fall.
Also amazing is the fact that this is the third good vintage in a row. Usually you have a stellar year then a few “decent” years and sometimes even a bad one, but 2012 and 2013 are stellar vintages and thus far from what we have seen and tasted 2014 is going to deliver some delicious wine as well. Here’s to hoping for a fourth amazing year in 2015!
Thank you to our cellar crew, our harvest crew, our vineyard management team, and the hardest working winemaker in the biz, Kevin Mills.
Thank you to everyone that called, sent notes, checked in with us and visited over this crazy harvest. It is because of all of you that we continue to produce these wines, and we look forward to seeing you the next time you are in town!
As you know, the Napa Valley was struck by a 6.1 earthquake in Sunday, August 24th at 3:20 in the morning with the epicenter only a couple miles from our winery and tasting room in Napa. Overall, we experienced a few broken bottles and glasses at our Estate Cave Tasting Room at the Meritage Resort and at the Trinitas Library, but no major damages and nothing to keep us from opening for normal business hours and wine tasting. If you had a trip planned or were planning a visit, the Meritage Resort and both Trinitas tasting rooms are open and operating normally, so no need to be alarmed. Unfortunately, our winery facility suffered much worse damages and we are in the process of cleaning up and evaluating the extent of our loss there as many of our barrels toppled and spilled. We are incredibly thankful that no one was injured and appreciate the outpouring of concern and help that we received from many of you.
Please continue to pray for all of our friends and neighbors in the Napa Valley who experienced greater losses. Over these next few weeks, we will continue to clean up and prepare for our 2014 harvest. Thank you for your prayers and continued support and we hope to see you back in Napa soon.
In 2013 Trinitas added Amarone to its portfolio by working with the Fumanelli family in Verona, Italy. This year, Trinitas is taking it to the next level and bringing you another unique and exquisite wine from the North Central region of Italy. This new wine is a Franciacorta Sparkling wine and we call ours "BB" short for "Busch Bubbles".
The Franciacorta region is attracting quite a bit of attention as it was the first Italian region to specify that the sparkling wines here must be made in the method champenoise. This is the traditional method used in Champagne in France and is known for producing the finest sparkling wines. Like Champagne, the name “Franciacorta” refers to both a geographic area as well as the sparkling wine. Awarded the prestigious DOCG designation in 1995. It is a small area with relatively low production compared to the Champagne region of France, and sized about one-tenth of Champagne's growing region. Its total annual output of about 13 million bottles is minor compared to Champagne's annual production of some 320 million bottles, with 90% of the wine never leaving the country.
Earlier this year, Garrett and I visited Franciacorta and explored this lesser known wine region and fell in love with the quality of wines made there. We knew we had to bring these wines to Trinitas to share with our friends and family. Because our family loves a little sparkling to celebrate not only special occassions but our daily blessings, we named the wine "BB", short for "Busch Bubbles". The sparkling that we chose to bring back to the Trinitas portfolio is a 2008 Brut Rose, made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes and I even got to help riddle some of the bottles at the winery!
Unbeknownst to me, Garrett dedicated this wine to me as he and his family offiically welcomed me to the family as "Betsy Busch" in June. When the first bottles arrived from Italy, Garrett announced it at our wedding, with quite a special showing by using a saber to open it!
We are more than excited to share this wine with all of you and hope that you will come try a taste as part of our Archive tasting at the Trinitas Library or grab a bottle to share with your friends and family. Cheers!
The grapes are growing and we are starting to see signs of veraison in our Estate Vineyard at the South end of Napa. Veraison is the process of the grapes ripening as we can see from the grapes turning color. As we would expect, here at the South end of the Valley, we are just slightly behind the rest of the Valley due to our cooler climate and our morning fog.
If you would like to learn more about what goes on in the vineyard, how we take care of our grapes, how we measure the sugar content of our grapes to know when to harvest and other fun facts about vineyards, join us for our vineyard tour and tasting!
While you are touring the vineyard and learning about our grapes and how soil, climate and care affect our wines, you will have the opportunity to taste our wines and maybe even spot a vineyard bunny or two.
Our vineyard tour is offered Thursday - Sunday at 10 am. Reservations are required and the price is $20 per person and includes the tour and tasting during the tour. Wine club members receive 2 complimentary tickets at this price. Meet at the entrance to the Estate Cave tasting room.
Reserve your spot here! See you in the vineyard!
Join me at 4 pm as we taste with CellarPass TV live at Hall Wines.
Tweet with us during the tasting @trinitascellars using #CellarPassTV
Bula! Or "Hello" rather! Greetings from Fiji!
If you hadn't already heard, I got married on June 14, 2014 to my beautiful wife, Betsy, and we danced the night away at the Meritage Resort & Spa, home to our Trinitas Cellars tasting room and vineyard in Napa. It was a perfect day and we are currently on our honeymoon across the Pacific Ocean in the tropical paradise of Fiji!
While we have absolutely loved the local rum and the hospitality of the people here, but we couldn't help but bring a little bit of our own Trinitas wine to share and enjoy on the beach while watching the beautiful sunsets!
Hope to see you back in Napa when we return!
All the best, Garrett & Betsy
Check out this great little blurb and picture from last weekend's Auction Napa Valley.
That's right, winemaker, Kevin Mills and Proprietor, Garrett Busch pouring our 2012 Martin Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon barrel at Barrel Auction! Looking good guys!
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