Wine as Liquid Art

On a daily basis, I meet people that have been born and raised here in Napa Valley that seem as if they’ve been in training on the refinements of various Cabernet clones since first grade….or at least that is what I imagine! As for me, I was born the youngest daughter of Tom & Peg Trotter’s 16 kids in Philadelphia, PA. We only had “fine wine” in the house for special occasions…and it was either Cold Duck or Blue Nun! The bottles were stored in the cabinet above the double oven in our un-air conditioned kitchen.

After my first visit to northern California in my late teens, I just knew this is where I was meant to be. I returned permanently at age 19. Later (after I turned 21, of course) a boyfriend introduced me to his fine wine collection and reprimanded me for not appreciating it the same way he did. All it took was one friend to offer me wine at dinner then I fell in love with this liquid art.

Luckily, I also fell in love with my husband and we moved to Calistoga where I found a new beginning in this fantastic wine region. First, I found work in a tasting room, then as a cellar rat, six years later, found myself a Cellar Master. I switched to a third winery and for ten more years worked as an apprentice winemaker. After working in all areas of an even tinier, fourth winery, my mentor (a winemaker with sixty years experience in Napa Valley) approached me and stated quite flatly, “You know what you’re doing – you should do this on your own.”

Just a couple of years later, in 2011 a tiny little vineyard presented herself for my consideration. Well, I jumped at the chance with my Sistas of d’Vine words in my head: “if you dream it, it can happen!” Granted that was a very difficult year due to rain during harvest. (Oh the mold and stuck tractors! Ugh!) But my Sistas came through and together we picked all day. The grapes looked like kryptonite from the mold, but we hand sorted every single berry and chose only the best. I aged the wine in small French oak barrels and the result was a Double-Gold along with four other precious metals!

The 2012 vintage was picked and hand-sorted with the same loving hands and a few of our trusty men. The vineyard was more generous with her beautiful ripe clusters and after aging, this wine will be released in May of 2015. I like focusing on vineyard designated productions because I want to see each vineyard shine to its potential. The vineyards I choose are “minimally worked” meaning they are at the very least biodynamic and dry-farmed. Quoting the renowned regenerative viticulturist, Daphne Amory, “Less is more.” In my wines, I hope you will be able to taste each distinct local and growing season. The resulting wines should be unique, rich, delicious and bring joy to all those who sip it…after all it is liquid art!


Stephanie Trotter Zacharia
Trotter 1/16 Winery

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