Trinitas Cellars was founded by Tim & Steph Busch in 2000. This husband wife team has had a long standing passion for wine. Tim is one of the owners of the Meritage Resort in Napa, and as a result, this is the perfect public home for tasting Trinitas Cellars (more about this location shortly). Tim & Steph are very spiritual and Tim co-founded the Magis Institute. Trinitas is Latin for Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Christianity) but it also applies to the wine industry. You have the sun, soil and humanity, all key ingredients for making excellent wine.
Today their son Garrett and his wife Betsy are running the company. Remarkably and unexplained, Garrett and Besty were blessed with triplets born in 2016.
As of the time of this review, Trinitas makes a fairly large variety of all reasonably priced wines. They source fruit from select vineyards from a variety of locations in Northern California, including Napa. In addition their own vineyards grow above the cave at the resort which extends all the way to the main highway. They have a variety of Bordeaux red varietals planted on site as well as a bit of Chardonnay which is the varietal that grows in the extremely rocky soil directly above the cave entrance. In fact there is a “wine walk” you can take. From the entrance to the cave proceed up the steps to the left and take the short trail that leads among the vineyards. Pause for reflection at the Madonna statue near the chairs.
Considering this is the “Napa Wine Project”, during our latest tasting we carefully selected mostly Napa wines to review from the list. However we were hearing good things about several of their other wines from other tourists tasting next to us. The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is crisp with aromas of green apple, grapefruit and honeysuckle. The finish is very clean. The 2005 Pinot noir from the nearby Carneros appellation is like drinking candy! It is a delicious rich Pinot with very fruity aromas and a wonderful mouth feel. The mouth feel is silky and smooth with cola, cherry, nuances of cedar and spices on the palate.
The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the smoother Cabernet Sauvignons you will try (sourced from Oakville) with almost a violet and floral character to the nose with some of these floral qualities carried onto the palate. It has a nice long smooth finish. The Revelation is their Late Harvest Cuvee which is a blend of 4 red varietals all from old dry farmed vineyards. The 2005 version opens with an explosion of perfume and candied fruit type aromas on the bouquet. Rich fruit is represented on the palate – not overly sweet but fairly well balanced. You do not need to stay at the resort to visit the spa or cave tasting room.
The actual tasting room is located at the Meritage Resort which is located south of Napa near where Highway 12 meets Highway 121. This is one of the very few tasting rooms located at a resort within the Napa Valley area. This is actually a great idea as many people who stay here are coming to Napa for wine tasting and why not have a tasting facility on site! For reference the cave and tasting bar is located on the south part of the property – drive through the front entrance and park towards the back of the property and then walk to the actual cave (located across the street from the gated swimming pool). This cave system sits 40 feet underneath the famous Napa Wine Press statue which you can see from Highway 12. It is a fairly large cave at 20,000 square feet.
Besides the cave tasting bar, there is also a fancy underground spa with underground pools, treatment rooms and little cave “relaxation” grottos. We’ve been in many wine caves in Napa, but this is the first spa cave we’ve visited – and it is the first wine tasting in a cave where when you enter it smells like a spa!
For resort style amenities it doesn’t get much better than this. Take a dip in the pool, head over for a massage or spa treatment and then right across from the spa you have the wine tasting cave. Also note the elegantly decorated wine cave next to the tasting room; this is often used for special events. As of press time, the tasting bar offers 16 different wines to choose from. The tasting flight allows you to pick any 4 wines from the list which includes several whites, a large number of reds and also a late harvest dessert wine.
The Trinitas Library.
Trinitas took over the old Patz & Hall facility in early 2014 in the corporate park (not far from the Meritage) just south of Napa and now offers Library tastings by appointment. This is a several minute drive from the Meritage and an estimated 10-15 minute walk away.
This tasting salon was named the Trinitas Library because it features some of their older wines. This beautiful salon is a great place to relax and learn about wine – with so many vineyard sources in their portfolio, Trinitas has shared some vineyard education in a visual manner – soil samples from the vineyards and a large map show each of their vineyard sources.
Trinitas Wine Bar, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.
This is located within the resort property 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, guest can choose from local San Diego craft beers, a variety of cocktails and the resort’s own private label Single Barrel Jack Daniels. A cozy relaxing tasting space on what is certainly a beautiful property.
The family also sources 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 – and by the time they are pressed much of the grapes have lost significant amounts of juice by volume. 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 Napa so he went to Italy; 2006 was the first Trinitas vintage of this wine. The wine is made in Italy by Marchesi Fumanelli and then shipped over in bottle.
Photos from staff photographer, JMT
IMPORTANT NOTE: As of early 2018 a large parcel of land directly to the south (across the street) from the Meritage Resort is under major construction. This is a significant project that is currently being developed into an additional spa, 145 new rooms for guests and a shared collective tasting room representing 9 vintners including the Trinitas Tasting Room which will move from its current cave location to this new space.
We will make a significant update to this review once we have further details and when this new tasting room opens. Based on the visual progress of the construction, possibly in late 2018?
For more information and or to join their wine club, visit: www.trinitascellars.com
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