We received the product for review and all opinions are our own.
This post is about California, specifically Napa Valley wine. While we love and support Texas wine, we also love great wine and wineries from all regions.
Stephanie Trotter Zacharia is the proprietor of Trotter 1/16 Winery in Napa Valley. I had the pleasure of speaking with her on the phone and getting an email interview with her. We’ll cover how she got into wine, what’s happening at the winery, and how you can taste her wines. At the end, I’ll give some quick impressions of a couple of the wines she provided to taste.
The name Trotter 1/16 comes from Stephanie’s background being one of 16 (number 15) siblings growing up! When asked about being 1 of 16 and how that was, she said, “Crazy! I clearly remember being introduced to my eldest brother – he pulled up to our house in an 18-wheeler, came in the kitchen, and made a sandwich. I asked my mom who that was, and she said, ‘Ah, honey, that is your oldest brother, Tommy.’ He had a son a little older than me who ended up being in the same classroom in school!” Pretty amazing!
Stephanie was in the restaurant industry as a front of the house manager when she married her husband in 1994. He was from Calistoga, CA in Napa Valley and that’s what brought her to Napa. At that point she left the restaurant business to begin working in wine.
Her route to winemaking started with the tasting room and Dave Pramuk of Robert Biale Vineyards was a great mentor into the world of wine. She then moved to the cellar at another small winery and learned logistics. Then after four years, she was off to an apprentice winemaking position under Allen Price of Casa Nuestra fame and took classes at U.C. Davis and Napa Valley Community College but ultimately graduated the School of Hard Knocks.
Without a trust fund or .com income to get her started, brought the challenge of having to “wear all hats,” from accounting, to the overwhelming amount of government reporting required in running a winery. Not to mention winemaking, marketing, and getting her wines to the public. On the plus side, there is so much support from the community for having her own label; to her it is humbling, the amount of support from the community she gets. When asked “why Napa?” her response is, “It called me; it embraced me when I moved here…some of the most generous people I’ve ever met. I appreciate how unique the valley is for grape growing. Out of five grape growing climates in the world, NV has three of them within a 30-mile length.”
Trotter 1/16 relies on collaboration with a number of seasoned winemakers like Allen Price, Randle Johnson of Hess Collection fame, David Sundberg and Mario Tedeschi both from Tedeschi Family Winery to help with technical decisions. They are as consistent as can be with their vineyards – the goal is to make each wine sing with each unique vintage. They stick with one vineyard for Cabernet (’11 & ’12) from David Fulton in St. Helena. In ’13 through ’19, Trotter 1/16 produced their Oak Canyon Ranch Cabernet from Coombsville. Finally, in ’15 through ’19 they’ve produced Cabernet from the Flying J’s Vineyard. All are private, small vineyards not offered to big guys to blend out. All are sustainable, if not organically farmed. Stephanie is hoping to add a Cabernet Franc vineyard in 2020.
There is no impersonal tasting room in Napa Valley but many avenues to try their wine. To taste, simply reach out to Stephanie, the winemaker; there are several fun ways to taste her wines. She meets and gets to know all the people that love her wines. This process helps her get to focus on the art, not the business of winemaking. Trotter 1/16 sells out of everything made; the wines are acclaimed at international competitions. If you want to taste reach out to Stephanie.
There are several ways to taste the wines with a personal touch. I personally hope to introduce my family to some of the wines when we’re in CA in July/August.
Stephanie would like Texas wine lovers to know, “Texans have good taste! My Cabernets are made in an old-world style that features the terroir in the wine. I make the grapes the meat of my dish and I use barrels as my spice rack. They are not big fruit bombs or high alcohol. It’s all about balance. They are cellar worthy, most up to around 20 years, but drinkable within the first year or so after bottling. Fabulous with food!” I’m not personally a sommelier but I did taste two Trotter 1/16 wines. The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – Oak Canyon Ranch and the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Flying J’s Vineyard. Both are award winners, and both are currently available. Both wines had me right on the nose! Nice understated oak. The palates are soft with good tannins. In the Oak Canyon Ranch Cab, there’s just a slight (I mean very slight) bell pepper character and the Flying J’s Cab is just a bit less “fruity.” But that’s just me. They were both in my sweet spot for Cabernet and I hope to get some more soon.