RIP – Leo Trentadue of Trentadue Winery passes away…

The hardest stories to write are the ones that come with the following:

From Miro Tcholakov:

Hi Jo, Happy New Year!

Unfortunately we have to start the year with bad news. Leo passed last night. It is not out yet but we are getting ready to let people know. I have a favor to ask- will you be able to write a short obituary for the press? If yes let me know and what would charge. Thanks Jo. Miro

Having worked with the family at varying levels, since 2001, it is I would know him better than most… And so the request came to me this morning (Monday), as I just wrote what is following my personal thoughts for the family.

My favorite memories of Leo all involve when it was party time. Leo loved parties. He love being with people and giving from his heart. I had a poignant lunch with him, when returning-from-Afghanistan veteran Honey Airborne was coming to wine country and wanted to taste Petite Sirah. I had sent a request to all of the members of PS I Love You, and was floored by the amount of responses I got to host her. Leo and his wife Evelyn wanted to host a lunch. Their family were also part of this party, and this has become one of my favorite memories for that time. Before that day, I didn’t know that Leo was a veteran. After the lunch, it was very clear to me that Leo had been willing to give his life for all of us, so that we may be well rid of the Hitler scourge and anything like that for future generations.

[Image courtesy of Honey Airborne.]

After having been hosted by some war veterans, Honey Airborne was inspired to create a float that would involve wine veterans, whom she had met during her visit. And so, the late Jack Heeger (a Napa journalist) and Leo Trentadue braved the cold and went to New York City to participate in that parade. I helped Honey to get people jazzed about going, she took it from there, hosting them with many activities, including a lunch with the mayor… Leo, I’m going to miss your sweet ways!

RIP Leo Trentadue ~ July 30, 1925 – January 5, 2014

On Sunday, January 5, 2014, at the age of 88 years old, Sonoma County vintner and World War II Veteran Leo Trentadue passed away of respiratory failure.

Born on July 30, 1925, in Cupertino, California, Leo was raised on his family’s apricot ranch. Always the humble farmer, Leo Trentadue is best known as the wine patriarch of Trentadue Winery in Alexander Valley of Sonoma County. He was a devoted family man, and his passing will be deeply felt by all who knew and appreciated Leo’s brave and magnanimous spirit.

In 1959, Leo and his wife Evelyn Trentadue decided to leave their Santa Clara County roots, and headed north. They settled on their 150-acre ranch of plum trees, and 60 acres of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Carignan vines. Today, those original vines are still producing excellent fruit, three generations later, on this 225 acre Alexander Valley Estate.

Leo Trentadue is also known and appreciated as a celebrated war hero. Leo was awarded both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his World War II participation. At the age of 19, Leo was drafted by the U.S. Army. Shortly thereafter he boarded the S.S. Mauritania, bound for Liverpool. From Liverpool, he was put onto another boat for Cherbourg, west of Omaha Beach. It took his troop three days—without food—to cross the Channel. This was August of 1944, and where he stayed for two months at the front line.

When Leo Trentadue celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday in 2004, it was with a trip to the verdant forests of northern France, exactly 60 years later. Taken with his wife Evelyn and son Victor, according to his earlier accounts, “This is where I was nearly put into the earth by German bullets . . . several times. I might have done well in a casino, in those days. You could certainly have called me ‘Lucky.’ But of all the times I should have been killed, I was most lucky when a bullet went through my left bicep. Had I turned the other way, it would surely have gone through my heart!”

Leo had particularly fond memories of this trip. Quoting earlier recounts, “Everyone says that the French hate Americans, and I will admit that some Parisians may be a little curt. But as soon as we got out into the country, especially where the fighting was all those years ago, we were treated like royalty. People came up to us, saying, ‘If it hadn’t been for you, we’d be speaking German today.’ There were as many as four memorials each day. At Blamont, where I was wounded, we attended a special ceremony. They feted us with food and wine at every event. The red wines were much lighter than ours, and you could drink them almost like beer. What really surprised me was that there were still concrete World War I bunkers—my father had served in the US Army at Verdun, not too far from where I was wounded—that looked like they had been in use yesterday.”

Had that been the case, wine country would have had to forego the excellent, justly famed “Geyserville” Zinfandels; not only from Trentadue, but also from Ridge Vineyards. Together, it was they who initially put those wines on the map.

Leo Trentadue is survived by his wife Evelyn Trentadue, son Victor Trentadue, daughters Annette Trentadue, and Leanne Allen. Daughter-in-law Cindy Trentadue. Son-in-law Gary Allen.  Grandchildren are the following: Steven and Tyler Trentadue (Victor Trentadue’s children), Crystal Kovanda (husband is Andrew Kovanda), and twins Brittany and Tiffany Allen.

Leo was preceded in death by Annette Trentadue’s daughter Nicole Biagi, who passed away several years ago.

Visitation will be Friday, January 10, 2014 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., at St. John’s Catholic Church, Healdsburg, with a Blessing at 11:00 a.m. Interment with military honors at Oakmound Cemetery, Healdsburg. In lieu of flowers please send donations to Memorial Hospice at 821 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. Arrangements by Fred Young F. H. Cloverdale, 707-894-2540.



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