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Trefethen Family Vineyards to Celebrate 50th Anniversary in 2018

Iconic Family-Owned Winery Celebrates Fives Decades at the Winery and Around the Globe
by Press Release
October 30, 2017

(Napa, Calif.) October 30, 2017—Trefethen Family Vineyards, located in the heart of the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, is poised to write the next chapter in its rich history in 2018 when it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The year-long celebration kicks off with a series of dinners around the globe hosted by family members John, Janet, Lorenzo and Hailey Trefethen.

Both at the winery and on the road, the Trefethen family will dive deep into their cellar to share their iconic Napa Valley wines. Throughout the year, older vintages of wine will be available in private by-appointment-only tastings at the estate, allowing their fans to experience wines that age gracefully. The family will travel extensively to host consumer dinners and represent the winery at food and wine festivals. Additionally, several events are planned throughout the year welcoming fans to the newly restored winery. A commemorative label will grace all wines released in 2018.

The Trefethens pride themselves on using only the grapes that they grow themselves in all of their wines. The estate is comprised of two properties: the Main Ranch on the valley floor and Hillspring, just a few miles away, in the foothills of the Mayacamas mountains.

Beyond grapes, the estate also has an extensive vegetable garden and small fruit orchard, supplying seasonal produce to Trefethen employees as well as fresh ingredients for a new food and wine pairing program which will launch in early 2018. Hailey Trefethen oversees “La Huerta,” as the vegetable garden is known, and has developed a partnership with the French Laundry, which now has a garden of its own on the Trefethen estate, growing fresh produce for the renowned restaurant.

Trefethen produces cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay and dry riesling, as well as small amounts of sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, malbec and cabernet franc.

As pioneers in Napa’s modern era, John and Janet Trefethen helped shape the valley into what it is today.

In 1968, most of Napa Valley was planted to fruit orchards or used for grazing. The decision to plant a major vineyard was unusual at the time, and presaged a significant transition in the valley’s agriculture. The arrival of the Trefethens also helped to ensure the agricultural future of the Napa Valley, as they conditioned their land purchases on the establishment of the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, a series of zoning regulations that would restrict land use in much of Napa County to agriculture. The Ag Preserve, as it is known today, is seen as one of the foundations of Napa Valley’s success.

While working diligently to establish Trefethen Family Vineyards, John Trefethen simultaneously helped to build the local institutions that underpin Napa’s wine industry. In 1975, along with Andy Beckstoffer, John co-founded the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, with a mission to preserve and protect Napa’s vineyards. He served as its first President. With nearly 700 members today, the organization represents a majority of the planted acreage in Napa Valley. Later, working behind the scenes with Mike Martini, John helped professionalize the Napa Valley Vintners, beginning the transformation of an eating and drinking society into the powerful advocacy organization that it is today. During his term as President of Vintners, John hired some of its first staff, ensuring that the work he and Mike had begun would carry on.

Janet’s time was largely devoted to marketing and sales, traveling tirelessly to promote Trefethen wines and the Napa Valley. A true trailblazer, she was a woman selling premium wine from California at a time when the industry was predominantly male and fine wine hailed almost entirely from France. For more than 10 years after Trefethen’s inaugural release, Janet personally visited every restaurant and wine shop interested in Trefethen wines and met the owners before determining if she would sell wine to them. This personal touch, along with a commitment to educating consumers wherever she went, created loyal customers who were proud to share with friends the wonder of Trefethen wines. It also fueled the Napa Valley’s burgeoning reputation for quality, helping fulfill the Trefethen family’s vision for what the Napa Valley could become.

Janet and her mother-in-law, Katie, were also interested in cuisine and hospitality, something sadly lacking in Napa Valley in the early days. Though hard to imagine now, Napa was “a culinary desert” in the 70’s. In the middle of a magnificent garden that Katie planted, Trefethen played host to the Napa Valley Cooking Class for over 20 years. Great chefs like Jeremiah Tower, Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, and Barbara Tropp served as visiting instructors and the class provided some of the inspiration for the emergence of Napa as a culinary capital.

Napa Valley has changed significantly since 1968. Trefethen, too, has evolved, while remaining committed to its founding vision. In a time when many family wineries have sold to larger corporations, and wine brands are reinventing themselves in the pursuit of ever increasing scale, Trefethen stands out as a paragon of the family-run estate winery model.

On the eve of the winery’s 50th anniversary, John and Janet have begun sharing leadership responsibilities with the next generation, their children, Hailey and Lorenzo Trefethen. Under the mentorship of CEO Jon Ruel, the two siblings complement each other in their interests and personalities, with Hailey focused on everything that occurs from vine to bottle, and Lorenzo dedicated to bringing the bottle to the table.

As one of Napa’s only surviving wooden gravity flow wineries from the 19th century, Trefethen’s distinctive pumpkin-colored structure is truly one of a kind. Designed by the leading California winery architect of the 1800s, Hamden McIntyre, it was awarded a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The Trefethen family has lovingly restored the building twice, once soon after they acquired it in 1968, and once more following the 2014 earthquake.

The recent work includes a full seismic retrofit with new wood reinforcing the existing walls and a steel moment frame adding further strength. The look and feel of the building, however, is still authentic 19th-century, maintaining the original floor plan and beautiful redwood siding throughout. The first floor is dedicated to the aging of Trefethen estate wines in barrel. The second floor features additional barrel storage and a new tasting area, with a stunning view of the estate vineyards. Under soaring ceilings, visitors will savor this piece of Napa Valley’s history, as they taste stellar wines that have been made within the walls of this historic landmark.

The family offers a variety of ways to sample Trefethen wines. Upon arrival, guests select from three distinct flights of Trefethen’s estate grown wines. Fees range from $25-$35 per person and tastings are conducted by professional wine educators, seven days a week from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

A two-hour Vineyard and Historic Winery Tour ($45 per person) immerses visitors in the history of the Trefethen property and the family’s approach to crafting world-class estate grown wines. The tour concludes with a special tasting and is available Monday-Friday at 10 a.m.

Trefethen’s reserve tasting experience is offered in the Villa , surrounded by gorgeous gardens. After checking in at the historic winery, guests are escorted to this former family home and are led through a flight of five of Trefethen’s most highly allocated estate-grown wines ($50 per person). Advance reservations are available online at and by calling 866.895.7696.

With a 50-year history of hospitality, every experience at Trefethen offers an immersion into the colorful history of the Napa Valley and its world-class vineyards and wines.

Trefethen Family Vineyards is one of Napa’s pioneering wineries. Founded in 1968, Janet and John Trefethen helped define what the Napa Valley is today. Five decades later, this Napa legend remains family owned and committed to the craft of 100% estate grown wines. The winery is located at 1160 Oak Knoll Avenue. Tastings are available daily. For more information, please contact the winery at 866.895.7696 or visit

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