The Story of Trombetta Family Wines

Sometimes a once in a lifetime gift comes to you in a package that is not quite recognizable. It would be easy to set this gift aside and forget about it. If you are lucky enough to have your imagination and curiosity piqued you will discover the rare and wonderful opportunity this gift brings to you. It can be life altering. ~ Rickey Trombetta Stancliff

My family was food centric. Not unusual for an Italian family. But interestingly enough my parents did not drink alcohol as a rule and this included wine. My father would occasionally have a glass of white wine with dinner but that indulgence was rather spotty at best. My jobs as a child were to work in the kitchen with my mother and in the garden with my father. My father was a master at grafting fruit trees. We had an apple tree that had three varieties of apples on it. Since I was the youngest I was at home alone with them and it became part of my routine to shop for the vegetables and visit the family butcher. Every night Mom and I would prepare dinner together using the fresh ingredients that I had shopped for earlier. Growing up in Sonoma County in an Italian family one would draw the conclusion that we would be more main stream wine aficionados especially since so many of my parent’s friends were wine makers or owners. Mom and Dad loved to entertain and there were many gatherings around the dining room table. They served wine to their guests but did not partake. I can still hear the laughter ringing from that dining room.

A new path was opened for me many years ago when my husband Roger introduced me to coworkers gathered at a friend’s home to learn about making wine. Over the years as this group grew in their winemaking skills it brought to light something so obvious. As we concluded each harvest we would gather with food to share, wine to drink, and stories to tell. The bounty of the feast began to grow as we paired food with the wines. As our curiosity grew about wine Roger and I took courses at our local Junior College and U.C. Davis. Roger grew up in Connecticut. His father would share great Burgundies at Sunday night dinner. Roger grew up learning how to read and distinguish French Burgundy labels and wines.

One very warm summer day in August of 1998 I met my future teacher and friend through a mutual friend and grape grower. PAUL HOBBS breezed through the doors at Kunde Winery where he was leasing space, wearing his Bermuda shorts, a polo shirt and red high-topped Converse sneakers. Paul invited me in to taste some Chardonnay in barrels down in the caves. Later over lunch we discussed Paul’s new project, his first soon to be estate vineyard he had just purchased in Sebastopol. I was hired as the event planner for the celebration party he was arranging that November.

Paul suggested to get to know each other better we go out the following week to visit some of the vineyards where he contracted fruit. It’s about an hours drive from our West County meeting spot to Napa, which gave us plenty of time to talk. As Paul learned of my passion for wine he shared more of his philosophy on vineyard management and winemaking. I was soaking all of this invaluable information up like a thirsty sponge.

The event planning turned into harvest help. Punch downs at Kunde where Paul was renting space to make his wines, and riding on the back end of tractor-trailer pulling leaves and botrytised fruit out of the macro bins became a regular occurrence. This led to working in the vineyards along side Paul and then full on harvest help for many years.

My love affair with food and wine was blooming. Fresh produce from my huge vegetable garden was an integral part of our nightly feasts. Learning new techniques in the kitchen gave me confidence to reach out of my comfort zone. Roger and I are so grateful that we have been living a lifestyle of fabulous food and wine every day. The whole family joins in preparing food. Michael, our eldest, is a fabulous cook who pushes himself to replicate dishes he’s tasted and experiment with our garden’s bounty and Erica, our daughter, joined me in the vineyard at an early age.

Roger, my husband has always believed that I could do anything I set out to accomplish (he’s always been my biggest fan). He was willing to bet on it. We discussed starting our own brand for many years. I continued my education at UC Davis completing the PR and Marketing certificated program as well as Intro to Winemaking taught by Dr. Carole Meredith. The decision was made – let’s start our own brand. We determined that it would be called Trombetta Family Wines in tribute to my father. Paul graciously agreed to be our Consulting Winemaker. I could not have asked for a better team to turn our dream into reality. There is a lot of love in this wine. And now we've come full circle with Erica taking the reins as Winemaker.

Trombetta Family Wines first vintage of Pinot Noir is from the GAP'S CROWN VINEYARD located on the western slope of Sonoma Mountain. We have selected three clones of Pinot Noir that we feel exemplify the rich minerality, soils and cool weather from the Petaluma Gap. From bud break until harvest I walk our blocks of the vineyard internalizing the seasonal changes. This vineyard is pristinely maintained which the fruit exemplifies. At harvest I work the night picks alongside the crew. Armed with my blue shop towels I ensure that each macro bin is clean and dry before the fruit arrives. Leaves are painstakingly pulled along with any botrytised fruit.

TROMBETTA FAMILY WINES is at the beginning of our joyous journey. Our hope is that you will join us as we travel this road.

Rickey and Erica our at Pinot Days Erica was in still in grade school when Paul Hobb’s appearance at our family table was a usual sight. One night in particular we asked Paul how he came up with the flavor descriptions in wine. He poured us each a glass of Pinot Noir including Erica. Swirling the wine in his glass he asked what do you smell? Before we could answer Erica started naming the spices (hints of cinnamon, pie crust) and fruits (blueberries). We were amazed. Erica was allowed a sip and she described the flavors of the wine. This began her long journey of discovery into winemaking, including internships at Vina Cobos in Mendoza, Argentina and Rudd, Napa Valley and completion of her degree in Enology from Fresno State University.

As our winemaker, Erica brings her passion, humor, curiosity and, most importantly in the winemaking operation, her steadfastness to our mission to produce the highest quality wines without compromise.

Erica Stancliff at right with her tasting panel colleguesAs a wine professional, Erica has traveled internationally to share enological best practices and to discover how the latest technologies might be applied to our operation.

Erica sits on North Coast tasting panels regularly, including the 2013 International Wine Channel Competition hosted by Wine TV and San Francisco's 11th Annual Pinot Noir Summit. "Ask A Winemaker" recently caught up with Erica at Pinot Days, Chicago, where she explained the importance of clonal selection in Pinot Noir and the inherent "parenting" required for the well-being of this delicate, fickle grape variety. Listen in:


Join us at the Trombetta Family table and live the lifestyle every day.

Erica, Rickey and Roger celebrate the first bottling of Trombetta Gap's Crown Pinot Noir, 2010.

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