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Sutter Home Winery is one of the largest family-run independent wineries in the United States, and is the estate known for the creation of White Zinfandel. It is located in St. Helena, California. It is owned by Trinchero Family Estates, which also sells wine under twenty other labels including Newman's Own and Folie à Deux.
The history of the winery dates back to 1874, when the Swiss-German immigrant John Thomann established a small winery and distillery in St. Helena in central Napa County, California. After his death, the winery and Victorian home beside it were sold to another Swiss family, the Leunbergers, who renamed the estate Sutter Home.
As with most Napa Valley wineries, Sutter Home was shut down during Prohibition. The winery remained abandoned until 1948, when it was purchased by John and Mario Trinchero, immigrant brothers from New York City whose family had been active in the Italian wine business. The Trincheros refurbished the winery and began producing Napa Valley wines, initially scraping by making generic jug wines. For years they operated “mom-and-pop” style, selling to their Napa Valley neighbors, who filled their barrels and bottles at the winery’s back door.
A turning point occurred in 1968, when Louis “Bob” Trinchero (Mario's oldest son) sampled a homemade Zinfandel made from grapes grown in the Sierra foothills, California’s famed Gold Rush country. Impressed by the character and intensity of this robust, spicy red wine, Bob began vinifying Amador County Zinfandel.
In 1972, another of Bob Trinchero’s innovations provided the American wine consumer with a new style of premium wine known as White Zinfandel. Initially labeled as an Oeil de Perdrix, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms demanded something in English on the label, and the name, "A White Zinfandel Wine" was added. By 1975 the name Oeil de Perdrix was removed. A fortunate accident occurred during the making of the 1975 vintage, as some 1,000 gallons of bleed-off juice from red Zinfandel refused to ferment to dryness, retaining a substantial amount of sugar, and Trinchero put the wine aside for the time. He said, "Two weeks later, I tasted that wine and it was sweet, had a pink color, and I thought, 'Darn, that's pretty good. We bottled it, and the rest is history."
By 1987, Sutter Home White Zinfandel had become the best-selling premium wine in the United States. In 1994, Wine Spectator gave Trinchero its Distinguished Service Award for "having introduced more Americans to wine on the table than anyone in history".
This prompted the Trincheros to increase its production while refining the wine’s style to accentuate the fruitiness his customers found so appealing. White Zinfandel made Sutter Home a household name and one of the largest, independent family-run winery in the U.S.
Still family-run, Bob Trinchero, Roger Trinchero and Vera Trinchero Torres, along with Vera’s sons, Anthony and Robert Torres, manage a large winemaking organization, overseeing operations from grapegrowing and production, marketing and sales. The Trincheros are noted for their industry leadership, commitment to sustainable agriculture and preserving the environment.
Today, Sutter Home is the fifth-largest winery in the United States. All winemaking, bottling, shipping and warehousing operations are concentrated in three modern facilities in Napa County. The original winery site on Highway 29 houses the winery’s Visitors Center.
White Zinfandel production was increased from 25,000 cases in 1981 to 1.3 million in 1986, while currently producing about 20 million cases a year, with Sutter Home White Zinfandel making up a good percent of the sales.
Sutter Home Winery produces 18 varietal wines including Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, White Zinfandel, White Merlot, Gewurztraminer, Chenin blanc, Moscato, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Red, Pinot noir, Pinot grigio, Pink Moscato, Bubbly Moscato, Bubbly Pink Moscato, Sweet Red and Sweet White