Secret Winery in Carneros, Truchard Vineyards
Why is Truchard Vineyards a secret winery in Carneros? The Truchard winery is off the beaten path located on Old Sonoma Road. Most travelers have no reason to venture along this backroad that leads from the Carneros Highway into the town of Napa. Secondly, the winery produces 20,000 cases of wine and most of that goes to fine wine shops, restaurants, and wine club members. Thirdly, Truchard takes visitors by appointment only, no drop-ins. They do not have a big staff, but give a very casual and intimate tour and tasting for $30 a person. You will never find a huge crowd of tourists here, and that is one important factor we enjoy when visiting a winery. We visited Truchard last week with a total of six in our party and very much enjoyed our tasting and tour that lasted about an hour and a half.
Truchard Vineyards is a family-run winery owned by Anthony Truchard and his wife Jo Ann. How the Truchards founded the vineyards and winery is one of the great untold stories of the Napa Valley and Carneros region. Anthony Truchard, or Tony as he likes to be called, was raised on a ranch in Texas and loved farming. Tony was stationed during the Korean war as a medical commander near Nevada. At the end of his tour, he took a trip to the Napa Valley and became enchanted with the vineyards. Even back in the early 1970’s land was expensive in the Napa Valley, but just to the south there was the Carneros region where land was much less expensive. At this point in time, there were no vineyards planted in Carneros. Tony, a meticulous individual according to his son Anthony, worked with soil engineers to research the potential for growing grapes in Carneros. The outlook was favorable, so Tony purchased land and was the first to grow grapes in Carneros. Shortly after, with his military stint over, he returned to Texas and moved his family out west so he could farm his vineyards in Carneros. The problem was, the closest spot for setting up a solid medical practice was the Reno, Nevada, area. For eleven years, each weekend he and Jo Ann would make the round trip with their children, five at one point, to their farm to work on the vineyards. That is above and beyond dedication. I clearly remember the long car trips we took with our three boys; we thought that was tough sledding, but five?
For many years the Truchards worked the vineyards and sold the grapes to a variety of wineries in the Napa Valley. In 1989 they began making their own wine. The Truchards still sell most of their grapes but use a small percentage of the vines for their wines. There many big name wineries that buy fruit from these Carneros vineyards. Earlier this year the Truchards had a triple celebration, their 50th wedding anniversary, 40 years of growing grapes, and 25 years of making wine.
This was our second visit to the Truchard Vineyards and the winery. Son Anthony Truchard let the tour and tasting for our group. He is the only one among his siblings who decided to work for the winery. He told us that his parents encouraged all their children to find their own calling and pursue a variety of interests. Truchard makes several varieties of wine including some specialties, like a 100% Rousanne and a Tempranillo. But it is their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that are their flagship wines. These are made more in a Bugundian style. This means less use of oak, thus show casing the fruit of the land. This has been the case since the winery began and this style has served them well.
Both Tony and Jo Ann Truchard continue to work throughout the vineyard and winery. Just a few years ago I shot this photo below of Tony working a harvest in his vineyards. As you can see, this man is still having fun!