Napa Winemaker Aha Moments | Stephanie Trotter Zacharia

Guest Blog courtesy of Stephanie Trotter Zacharia
Co-Owner and Winemaker, Trotter 1/16 Winery, Napa Valley, California

One of the coolest aspects of being a boot-strap winemaker is that I get to play all the various winery roles. Honestly, some are more fun than others. I much prefer showing friends/customers around the vineyard or crush pad over say, accounting.

My favorite part is when I get an “aha” moment with a visitor. If you’re a Cellar Angels subscriber, chances are you’re a pretty savvy wine drinker, who enjoys learning about what types of wine you like and why.  Perhaps you’ll enjoy sharing these perspectives with some friends who are just jumping into wine.

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The first of the two most notable introductions is that wine is liquid art, and I invite new oenophiles to think of wine literally as art. I don’t mean to put it on pedestal, but tasting through wines in a tasting room is like walking down the halls of a museum: You can critique form, technique and style, analyze color, lighting, presentation. You can pull out components of the piece to decide what you appreciate more or less.  Or you can simply say, “I like that” or “ew” or “that would be nice at my friend’s house!” The approach is really up to you and you can change your approach at any time. I believe wine, like art, should be part of our world and something which enhances life.  This is why I humbly suggest you curate your own cellar through my Liquid Art Club. ;-)

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The second “aha” comes when folks are tasting with me and we start talking about the differences in AVA’s. While a favorite varietal offers continuity and a go-to in your shopping run, it’s also fun to introduce the AVA’s (American Viticulture Area) and discover how they impact a wine. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon I produced is from the Coombsville AVA -  a secret jewel of Napa Valley.  Its proximity to the cooling winds of the Bay and red soil and western facing hills make it unique. (Currently, I’m only able to make one or two different wines, as I said, this is a bootstrap endeavor).

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But it is worth noting that with the laws governing labeling and blending, consistency in many wines can be marginalized. Most people don’t realize we can blend 25% any other variety into a wine without losing the varietal label.  So someone’s favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, may very well be 75% Cab, 20% Merlot with 5% Petite Sirah. For my wines from Trotter 1/16, my goal is to make single vineyard, varietal specific wines. Focusing on AVA, each varietal has certain characteristics that are consistent and certainly true to varietal, however the rules regarding AVA labels are much stricter, thus more reliable. When I seek out my vineyards, I want them to showcase not only their varietal, but what the AVA has to offer as well. I want the vineyard to sing! In conclusion, my suggestion is that if you like a certain varietal from a certain growing region (AVA) explore other varietals from that area – you might expand your go-to list.

Look for Cabernet to be true to its varietal and sing in your glass! 

Angel Note: Find Trotter 1/16 Winery's 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon featured on Cellar Angels for one month only beginning Monday, December 5th. Support your favorite cause with proceeds from every purchase! 

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