Did You know? On property at Trione Vineyards, just behind the Old Stone Building, there was a railroad spur by the property, which was used to ship wine down the rail pre-and-post prohibition.
By Mallorie Kerrigan
Three generations, four decades and five ranches—the Trione family history runs deep in Sonoma County. Brothers Mark and Vic, with their father, Henry Trione, began vineyard development in the 1970s, farming the best varietals in the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations.
Today, the family owns and operates Trione Vineyards & Winery in Geyserville, with panoramic views of Alexander Valley Cabernet vineyards and a long stretch of railroad tracks as far as the eye can see. With their first vintage in 2005 and first crush at their own winery in 2008, the winery celebrates its 13th year of production, yet has maintained a rustic and Sonoma County feel. Built in 1908 as a winery, the historic stone building next to the tasting room offers romantic ambiance and is host to weddings and winery events. Its Italian market lights strung along the ceiling highlight the original Douglas Fir beams and masonry.
Scot Covington is the winemaker at Trione Winery. He recalls a moment in 2005—in the early stages of winery development—when the elder Henry Trione left a bottle of a popular, high-end Napa Cabernet Sauvignon on his desk along with a card that read: Make this. Fast forward to 2008, Covington made a Cabernet that exceeded Henry’s expectations. In fact, Wine and Spirits magazine gave Trione’s Cabernet a 92 and the popular Napa Cab it was modeled after, a 91. Henry was pleased.
In his 13th year and 13th vintage at Trione Winery, Covington’s philosophy on winemaking is simple: “It’s guided by nature. The hand of the winemaker is light but instinctively direct, letting the wine speak for itself,” says Covington. “I wanted to have a whole pallet of wine, an example of what we’re growing.” He compares great winemaking to a making great apple pie—it takes both quality apples and a talented baker to develop a perfect apple pie.
Covington begins the tasting with the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, inspired by his time in South Africa and his love for the minerality and wet stone characteristics of Sancerre—a French wine primarily associated with Sauvignon Blanc grapes, produced in the Loire Valley. “If you drew a line between the Loire Valley and Marlborough, New Zealand,” he says, “this would be right in the middle.” The Sauvignon Blanc won the Sonoma County Harvest Fair sweepstakes for best white in 2015. With its grapefruit and wet grass aroma, this Sauvignon Blanc has a tactile zing. “I always have a bottle in my fridge,” he says.
Moving to the reds, we taste the 2014 Pinot Noir from Russian River. “I look at Pinots as being like an impressionist painting,” says Covington. “Up close, it has a lot of little dots. You have to pull back to see the whole picture.” This classic Russian River Pinot blends the tannins of black cherry, the characteristics of brambly raspberry and earthiness of a loamy wet forest floor.
Next, we try the Syrah, which is 95 percent Syrah and 5 percent Viogner. “I am proud of our Syrah. In fact, it just took best of class in the recent North Coast Wine Competition as well as Sonoma Top 100 wines this year,” says Covington. “But still, Syrah is treated like the Rodney Dangerfield of wines; it gets no respect.” The subtle meaty aroma and the floral top dressing from the Viogner makes this Syrah as complex as you want it to be—a wine to be respected.
Moving from the Russian River Valley and onto Alexander Valley, we taste the 2013 Primitivo from the vines on property, barreled in 100 percent French oak. The Primitivo is fruity and not overwhelmingly dry. Legally in California, Primitivo and Zinfandel must remain in a separate category. Genetically, they’re identical. The 2013 Zinfandel, however, sourced from the Trione family’s own eight-acres near Lake Sonoma, is barreled in 100 percent American oak and contains a more smoky and bacon-fat characteristic—a perfect wine for glamping.
From sparkling wine modeled after Covington’s favorite local producer, to traditional French oak Chardonnay, to their best selling Henry’s Blend red, Trione Wineries versatility is an example of the best of the best. The wineries family legacy is like rings on a tree, says Covington. They’re annual growth is displayed by the family members that carry it through from generation to generation—each ring representing honesty, quality and integrity at every level.
Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..