Trinitas Cellars was founded by Tim (born and raised in Michigan) & Steph Busch in 2002. In 1975, Tim’s father Joe co-founded two small supermarkets, calling them J&C Family Foods, today Tim and his brothers are partners in 16 store locations, all in Michigan – now called Busch’s Fresh Food Market. Tim is an attorney who moved from Michigan to Orange County, California in 1982; he founded The Busch Firm in 1979 – a law firm that offers a variety of legal services relating to multi-million-dollar real estate and commercial business transactions with offices in Napa and in Irvine.
Tim is also the founder and CEO of Pacific Hospitality Group, which owns several properties under the Meritage Collection, as of our latest update to this review, includes both their Napa based properties (Meritage Resort and Vista Collina Resort) along with Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa and Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach in Kauai. In addition to their ownership of these properties they also manage additional properties in select locations within the USA.
In addition to his business ventures and various investments, Tim co-founded The Magis Center, (‘magis’ means ‘more’ in Latin), an organization that in part focuses on restoring people’s belief in God and the virtues associated with his holy presence. Trinitas is Latin for Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Christianity) but it also applies to the wine industry; three important characteristics include the sun, soil and humanity – all key ingredients for making excellent wine.
And he co-founded the Napa Institute, a Catholic centered organization and has been active in local education in Orange County having co-founded St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel and JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano. The Busch Family Foundation is the family’s philanthropic arm – focusing on education and community service. In support of the Busch’s generous contributions, the buisness school at the Catholic University of America is named the Tim and Steph Busch School of Business (in Washington, D.C).
Today Tim and Steph’s son Garrett (who like his father is a University of Notre Dame graduate) is the CEO of Trinitas Cellars. Remarkably and unexplained, Garrett and his wife Betsy were blessed with triplets born in 2016.
Trinitas produces a wide variety of reasonably priced wines. Grapes are sourced from select vineyards from a diversity of locations in Northern California, including the Napa Valley. A small vineyard grows on the Meritage Resort property with vines above the spa-cave extending all the way to Highway 12 (look for the iconic grape crusher statue on the hill directly behind/south of the resort). Several Bordeaux red varieties are planted on site as well as a bit of Chardonnay which is the variety that grows in the extremely rocky soil directly above the cave entrance. In fact one can enjoy a relaxing “wine walk” – from the entrance to the cave – proceed up the steps to the left and take the short trail that meanders among the vines. Pause for reflection at the Madonna statue near the chairs.
Considering this is the “Napa Wine Project”, during our latest tasting of the Trinitas Cellar wines we carefully selected mostly Napa wines to review from their tasting menu (as they do produce a number of non Napa Valley grown wines).
The 2007 Trinitas Cellars Sauvignon Blanc is crisp with aromas of green apple, grapefruit and honeysuckle. The finish is very clean.
The 2005 Trinitas Cellars Pinot Noir from the nearby Carneros appellation is like drinking candy. It is a delicious fruit forward wine (with a generous helping of fruit-driven aromatics) and a pleasing mouth feel which is silky and smooth with flavors of cola, cherry, nuances of cedar and spices.
The 2005 Trinitas Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the smoother Cabernet Sauvignons one will try from Oakville; shows a floral character on the bouquet (with nuances of violets) – some of these floral qualities are carried onto the palate. This wine features a long supple finish.
Revelation is the name of the Late Harvest Cuvée, a blend of 4 red varieties entirely from old dry farmed vineyards. The 2005 Trinitas Cellars Revelation opens with a surge of perfume and candied fruit type aromas on the bouquet. Rich fruit is represented on the palate – not overly sweet but fairly well-balanced, complemented in part by the decent acidity.
The Village at Vista Collina
In summer of 2018 a large parcel of land directly to the south and across the street from the Meritage Resort opened as Vista Collina Resort along with the neighboring, The Village at Vista Collina – featuring a large green space (with environmentally friendly turf) surrounded by four stories containing 145 Tuscan-styled guest rooms, nine stand alone tasting rooms on the ground floor (nine being a number divisible by three produces three – tying into the Trinitas name), a luxurious Vintner’s Room (for special vintner member and other community and private events) and the Village Food & Wine Center where chefs teach a variety of culinary seminars and host other culinary related events. The Village at Vista Collina held its grand opening on August 4, 2018. There is plenty of parking across the street in the parking lots that surround The Meritage Resort or visitors to the property often find spaces, curbside on the street that runs in front of The Village.
And the Fivetown Gourmet Grocery and Deli is an integral part of the The Village experience. Named after the five towns within the Napa Valley including Yountville, Rutherford, Oakville, St. Helena and Calistoga – this upscale market features a variety of farm-fresh local ingredients and home-made products. There is plenty of seating outside the grocery – one can also picnic on the lawn area.
In 2019, Vista Collina opened a cooking school – offering cooking classes, lunch and dinner demonstrations and wine pairing experiences. Vista Collina also maintains the Village Truck – a food truck that is often on site.
The ‘lawn’ area is ideal for hosting a variety of events including concerts. Umbrellas inserted into the ground can easily be moved and seating arrangements are highly flexible.
Of the nine tasting rooms, two stand out – one is the Trinitas Wine Room featuring a visually intriguing interior including an impressive circular bar. Tastings offer a huge variety of wines to choose from. From the tasting flight, one selects four different wines from a list of whites, reds and a dessert wine. The other is the Foley Food & Wine Society – anchoring one side of the courtyard with its own sizable space. The focus of the tastings here are on select wines from a number of wineries within the Foley Family portfolio including from Napa (ALTVS/Merus, Foley-Johnson and Kuleto Estate), neighboring Sonoma County and Central California.
In addition to Trinitas Cellars, other boutique wineries represented include Cornerstone Cellars, GEN 7 Wines (non Napa Valley family that traces their California winemaking heritage back to their own winery dating from 1832 near the town of Hollister in San Benito County – run by charismatic winemaker and 7th generation family member Tim Bacino), Jayson by Pahlmeyer, Luna Vineyards, Mi Sueño Winery, Napa Smith Brewery and The Wine Foundry.
The Village at Vista Collina
Trinitas Cellars Tasting Space
Trinitas Cave/Spa (wine tasting space closed in 2018)
The original tasting room for Trinitas Cellars was located in their 20,000 square foot cave next to the luxurious spa. This was one of the very few tasting rooms located at a resort within the Napa Valley. Well received, the tasting space was a fine complement to the property within easy walking distance of the hotel rooms. This cave system is tunneled 40 feet underneath the locally iconic Grape Crusher Statue, easily seen from Highway 12.
The cave offers a luxurious underground spa with pools, treatment rooms and tiny “relaxation” grottos. We’ve been in numerous wine caves in the Napa Valley (as of our last update about 150 such wine caves), but this was the first cave tasting room that smelled like a spa!
The Trinitas Library (closed in 2019)
NOTE: we keep our notes here for nostalgia and reference purposes. Trinitas Cellars took over the old Patz & Hall facility in early 2014 in the corporate park (not far from the Meritage) just south of Napa and for about 5 years used this space to offer Library tastings by appointment. This is a several minute drive from the Meritage and within about 10-15 minutes walking distance.
This tasting salon was named the Trinitas Library because it featured some of their older wines. This beautiful salon was a great place to relax while simultaneously learning about wine. With so many vineyard sources in their portfolio, Trinitas shared some vineyard education in a visual manner – soil samples from the vineyards and a large map showed each of their vineyard sources.
Incidentally, the offices for the Busch Firm are located across the street, just to the north of this old location.
Trinitas Wine Bar, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
This wine bar is located within the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa in Torrey Pines, just north of La Jolla and San Diego (and very close to the famous Scripps Research Institute). Wines from Trinitas Cellars can be ordered by the glass or by tasting flight or paired with small bites.
Their wines are not the only alcohol served here, guests can choose from local San Diego craft beers, a variety of cocktails and the resort’s own private label Single Barrel Jack Daniels. This is a cozy relaxing tasting space on what is an incredibly beautiful and relaxing property.
The Busch Firm
The Busch Firm maintains two offices, one in the business park just south of the city of Napa and their primary southern California office (their headquarters) in a business park within a 6-minute drive from John Wayne Airport (SNA) off of Dupont Drive. The focus of the Busch Firm is providing legal, tax and other business services to a variety of clients including those both private and business related. In addition they have provided counsel for a number of prominent Southern California real estate transactions including the purchase of what is the Christ Cathedral (formerly the Crystal Cathedral) and the purchase and construction of Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, the Newport Beach Country Club and the Pasea Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach among others.
Located on the northwest side of The Busch Firm’s offices is the Queen of Life Catholic Chapel. Highly unusual to have a catholic chapel in a business park building – this is conveniently located for both the employees of The Busch Firm but also for other employees in the surrounding business park. Open to both residents and visitors alike. Offers daily mass during the week days at 1150am and is open to the public for prayer from 8-5pm Monday through Friday. This space has also been used to host a number of cardinals and bishops as well as talks from other religious leaders.
The Busch Firm, Napa
The Busch Firm, Irvine
For a number of years, the family also sourced grapes from select vineyards in Northern Italy near Verona. Tim initially looked to the Napa Valley to make Amarone – a popular wine we personally saw being made in Verona, the last time we were in Italy. The grapes are picked and then by law must dry a minimum of 2 months. One winery we visited, Tedeschi Wines had built a special warehouse just for their Amarone production in which the grapes are left to dry – by the time the grapes are pressed much of the juice by volume has been lost to evaporation. This is an expensive wine to make not only based on the extra time needed but also this lost volume.
Long story short – Tim was unable and unsuccessful in producing Amarone from the Napa Valley so he went to Italy; 2006 was the first Trinitas vintage of this wine – the last vintage was in 2010. This wine was made in Italy by Marchesi Fumanelli and then shipped over in bottle.
OTHER RELATED PHOTOGRAPHY
Grape Crusher Statue
Vista Collina Construction (for historical reference only)
Busch’s Fresh Food Market, Ann Arbor Michigan
Photos coming at some point.
Paséa Hotel & Spa, Huntington Beach
Photos coming at some point.
Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach, Kauai
Photos coming at some point.
Tim and Steph Busch School of Business, Catholic University of America, Washington DC
Photos coming at some point.
The Family Story: