Trentadue Winery ~ Lunch with a Legend ~ Leo Trentadue

Monday, April 9, 2007:

I have deep respect for all of those companies who were so willing to give of themselves, when asked to help a returning soldier find comfort in wine country.

When I updated the members of PS I Love You with Sergeant First Class Cheryl Dupris and my activities (as I went along to chronicle the adventure), Tucker Catlin of Catlin Farms wrote this to me, “Nice job, Jo. It makes you proud… of her, and you, and us!!”

Those busy days for Cheryl brought out the entire wine community. Meanwhile, as Cheryl keeps up with my writings of her adventure, she writes to me, telling me that I’m her hero; all the while, she’s our hero. There is good news going on in the world, and it’s too precious to just slip away… What was it that Shakespeare wrote? “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is often interred in their bones.” Well, I say thank God for the Internet!

“Sergeant First Class Cheryl Dupris only wanted to eat, sleep, and drink Petite Sirah in California. For Cheryl’s simple needs, we could have just hooked her up intravenously. In wine country, that’s not so glamorous.

Monday morning began for Cheryl at the Spa at Hotel Healdsburg . I have to admit that when I showed up promptly at 12 noon, I carried a lot of guilt. How could I have organized such a wonderful experience, only to expect her to jump up and rush right out the door? But we had a delightful lunch waiting for us… and we just had to go. I waited and waited, and when I could wait no longer, the receptionist allowed me to go back and rouse her from her reverie… I felt like I was the Sergeant with this one. And there she was, her long black Native American, uncut hair, streaming down almost to the back of her knees, being combed while Cheryl got ready to be whisked away, as lunch was patiently waiting for us.

I called to let the Trentadue’s know that we were running late. We were within fifteen minutes, so it wasn’t as urgent as I was feeling. We drove their long driveway to the winery’s front door, got out of the car, and headed to the newly renovated tasting room. Cheryl’s breath was almost taken away. It just wasn’t anything like what she was expecting. As Cheryl entered, she was immediately in love. Their décor is old country Italian charm in new country splendor. Again, it wasn’t easy to have Cheryl move from the tasting room out to the family’s home, to meet the entire Trentadue clan. (I felt like a bossy cruise director, with my clip board and stop watch.)

It really was so charming. The Trentadues are a very dear family; so easy to enjoy. Their down to earth, “take you into our arms” manner makes anyone feel immediately at home. Family and friends are so important to them that every year during the holidays, they have a party for everyone they know. Son Victor’s metal sculpture “Parade of Lights” leads the way along the driveway to the party’s doorstep. It’s bedazzling. It’s also become an extravagant “must do” holiday tradition for all of the children (no matter what age) in Alexander Valley and beyond. Today, there was no parade of lights; instead, the parade of family came out for Cheryl.

With Leo Trentadue being a World War II Veteran, and Cheryl being an Iraq and Afghan Vet, these two had a lot to talk about. Evelyn, Leo’s wife, and Annette – their daughter – had organized a superb lunch. Winemaker Miro Tcholakov and National Sales Director Ned Carton rounded out the group, with Victor stopping by to make sure that he also said Hello to Cheryl. Cheryl was their VIP, and in typical Trentadue tradition, they pulled out all the stops.

After lunch, Miro took Cheryl into Trentadue Winery’s cellar. [SIDE NOTE: Miro also has his own brand of wine called Miro Cellars, where he solely produces really voluptuous Petite Sirah. Miro’s a Petite master. Cheryl came to California to only drink Petite Sirah (and she’d settle for Syrah, if it was available)… period. So, meeting Miro was a real bonus.] During her visits to all wineries, she was a good sport as everyone offered her other wines, but it all came back to Petite…. No matter what, it all came back to Petite.

Miro, about as mischievous as any winemaker I know, after using his thief to siphon off Petite from this barrel and the next barrel… different cooperages, different vintages, different blocks, finished his last barrel sample for Cheryl, and shot me a wink. Oh, my god… What had he done?He leaned over to me and whispered, “Z-i-n-f-a-n-d-e-l.” Now I was in on his little joke. Up to this point, Cheryl had been given only Petite, and she was loving it. We both smugly watched her. It was just so classic…

She took one sip and her face went into squeamish contortions. Cheryl’s palate is a one trick pony, and so forthright that she couldn’t hide how disgusting it was for her. Please know that I also tasted the Zin, and it was delicious; but for Cheryl… If it ain’t Petite, it ain’t wine. You also need to consider that Robert Parker consistently gives Miro scores in the 90s, so this Zin wasn’t a dog… It just wasn’t Petite.

I honestly think that’s what I love about Cheryl the most… She knows what she wants, and isn’t going to waste time forcing herself into not being true to herself. Maybe that’s what living on the edge all of the time has done to her. Regardless, it’s definitely part of her charm.

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