Wine of the Week: Trombetta wines — from homemaker to winemaker

Had fate not intervened, Rickey Trombetta Stancliff might have been perfectly content being a wife and mother, but somehow, I doubt it.

Rickey met her husband, Roger, an electrical engineer, when they worked together at Hewlett-Packard.

Roger owned a small vineyard in Sonoma, California, but they really got bit by the wine bug when their mutual friend, Carmine Indindoli, got them hooked on home winemaking.

Rickey and Roger started taking wine classes at the local junior college and at the University of California-Davis in order to learn the basics involved in the winemaking process, just for fun.

While making wine at home was a passionate hobby, Rickey was also raising her two children. Then one summer day in 1998, a friend called to ask Rickey if she could help out an up-and-coming winemaker in Sebastopol who was starting a new winery and needed someone to help plan the opening.

Rickey went to meet Paul Hobbs at the Kunde Winery, where he was leasing space. He breezed through the door wearing Bermuda shorts, a polo shirt and red high-topped Converse sneakers. Rickey was intrigued. Paul invited her to taste some chardonnay in barrels down in the caves and later, over lunch, they discussed Hobb’ new project, his first estate vineyard. Rickey was hired on the spot to help plan the celebration party he was arranging that November.

The event planning turned into harvest help, which then morphed into helping with punch downs in the winery, and eventually riding on the back end of a tractor-trailer while pulling leaves and bad grapes out of the macro bins.

Eventually, Rickey was working with Hobbs in the vineyards and Julian Gonzalez in the winery on a full-time basis. The three of them became great friends and a talented team.

Ultimately, Hobbs talked Rickey and her husband into starting their own winery in 2010, with Hobbs as their consulting winemaker.

They made their first vintage of pinot noir from grapes sourced from the highly acclaimed Gap’s Crown Vineyard, located on the western slope of Sonoma Mountain in the Petaluma Gap.

Shortly thereafter, Rickey and Roger’s daughter, Erica, who had been mentored by Hobbs since she was 10 years old, was getting ready to graduate with a degree in winemaking from Fresno State. In 2014, Erica took over the reins at Trombetta Family Wines.

Today, mother and daughter work side-by-side at the winery, where Rickey spends much of her time walking the vineyard blocks from bud break until harvest, and where she can be found working right alongside the crew, picking grapes, sorting fruit and cleaning bins. Meanwhile, Erica is in charge of winemaking decisions. In addition, Rickey runs the sales, marketing and hospitality side of the business. Together they make a great team, and they make great wine.

That good friend, Carmine Indindoli, who started them on their home winemaking venture, also happens to own a beautiful vineyard is in the Vine Hill region of the Russian River Valley, where warm days and cool weather translates into a longer growing season that produces wonderful fruit which goes into the 2017 Trombetta Family Wines Indindoli Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River Valley. Fermented in French oak barrels with native yeast and aged eight months on the lees, this wine offers up aromas of ripe Honeycrisp apple, orange peel and fresh-baked croissant that waft out of the glass. The flavors of ripe pear, crisp apple and creamy lemon curd are elevated by the underlying notes of toasted oak. The long, lingering finish is perfectly balanced with juicy acidity, fine-tuned tannins and a creamy mouthfeel. This wine is unfined and unfiltered, so don’t let the cloudy appearance throw you off this delicious chardonnay. $45

The 2016 Trombetta Family Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is sourced from the Petersen Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap. Aromas of ripe strawberry, cranberry and forest floor are coaxed out of the bouquet. On the palate, the wine opens just a little shy and pensive but quickly gives way to delicious flavors of red raspberry, wild blueberries and red plum. The velvety tannins support the medium-bodied frame and the notes of baking spices on the long, earthy finish. Only 400 cases of the lovely wine are produced, so be patient when searching for this delicious pinot noir. $45

The Gap’s Crown Vineyard is arguably one of the most famous vineyards in the Sonoma region in the Petalumn Gap AVA. The “Gap” is actually a wind gap named after a coastal mountain opening that stretches east from the Pacific through the town of Petaluma and then roars south to San Pablo Bay. This wind modulates the shifts in temperatures in the vineyards so the grapes develop textbook ripeness. The 2015 Trombetta Family Wines Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir takes advantage of this beautiful fruit to craft a wine with a stunning nose with scents of wild blueberry, blackberry, ripe strawberry and lavender. In the mouth, the wine both seduces and demands attention. It possesses a savory characteristic that builds slowly on the tongue with flavors of black plum, cassis and earthy tones, and then crescendos with elegant notes of dried herbs and spices. $65

For more information about these wonderful wines, check out the interview with the charming and delightful Rickey Trombetta on The Vine Guy podcast:

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