What makes Trio Vintners different? For a start, our taste in wines has always been a little different. We mainly produce unusual varietals because these are the wines we love to drink. There is great Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay being produced in the Walla Walla Valley (ask us for recommendations!), but the wines we wanted to make like Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Zinfandel and Sangiovese are all great food wines. It’s not always easy getting folks who aren’t familiar with these names to try them out, but that’s our mission: to focus on the special wines we’ve come to love, and offer people the chance to expand their own palates.
Another difference we’ve established is that our red wines are produced from older vintages. That’s because we don’t believe in rushing a wine to the public before it’s truly ready to drink. Our 2006 vintage Syrah was held while most wineries in the valley were already putting their 2008 vintage on the shelves. Our wines average 18 months in the barrel and at least four months in the bottle before we release them. Our Riserva is two years in the barrel and six months in the bottle. Our accountant would love for us to release the wines earlier, but that’s not what we’re about.
The Washington region has acquired a worldwide reputation for excellent grapes, but we feel that their essences are too often overshadowed by excessive aging in brand new oak barrels. At Trio Vintners, we appreciate the subtle flavors that can be added to wine with the judicious use of new oak barrels, but also believe that what matters most is the flavor of the grapes, not the aroma of smoked wood. We use 10 to 33 percent new oak for the wines that we feel improve from that treatment.
In contrast, our Sangiovese and Grenache barrel programs incorporate no new wood. We see these as more nuanced flavors that are diminished, not enhanced, by ageing in new oak barrels. We’ve experimented carefully in the last few years and learned what works best for each wine. Going forward, our earnest commitment is that you should always taste the fruit first in our wines.
Another difference we’ve embraced is the growing trend in our business away from the large, heavy wine bottle. We feel that this type of packaging – once the only way to go – is becoming unnecessary given available alternatives. A heavy glass bottle only adds weight to every shipment and also increases the environmental cost. We were one of the first wineries to begin using a new product called EcoGlass, which is up to 25 percent lighter than the traditional wine bottle but sacrifices no product integrity. This wine bottle saves us delivery costs to ship to you. But for those who miss the heft of an old-time wine bottle, we’re willing to attach a few lead fishing lures to each bottle – just let us know.
Cost is another difference. Trio Vintners wines are priced lower than many others of similar quality produced in the valley. This difference has nothing to do with quality: We’d be happy to add another $10 to the price of a bottle if it helped people enjoy the wine more. But we don’t believe that raising the price of a wine is a proper way to raise its reputation. When we buy other vintners’ wines for ourselves, we look for a high quality-to-price ratio. It only makes sense for us to offer the same: quality wines at prices scaled fairly to what it costs us to make them.
We are wine lovers at heart, and don’t aspire to be, or market to, wine snobs. We believe that wine is a wonderful and integral part of a pleasurable meal, to be enjoyed in conviviality. So we aren’t seeking to impress collectors or avid trackers of scores. There are more than enough wines being produced with awards, judges or critics in mind, we feel. But that’s not how most people drink wines, including us. We make it with the happy thought of its being enjoyed at other people’s tables.
However, it does seem that wine scores help sell wines, and our distributors strongly encourage us to obtain at least a few tasting scores. For our own reviews, we submit our wines to Paul Gregutt, who reviews them (unscored) for the Seattle Times; they may also show up (with scores) in Wine Enthusiast. We also send our wines to Wine Press Northwest to get their ratings.
Similarly, we’re only somewhat interested in entering most wine-tasting events, because we feel the judging methodology too often has little to do with the way most people drink wine. Tasting hundreds of wines at a single sitting just doesn’t make sense to us. We do submit our wines to the Seattle Wine Awards and the Tri-Cities Wine Festival, two regional events with an approach and results we admire. But you won’t hear us bragging about our scores in this or that competition. That’s not why we make wine. You can always judge our wines yourself at our tasting room.
A last difference: These days, there’s a trend to let wine grapes hang on the vine late into the season. This approach yields higher sugar levels (translating into higher alcohol levels) and less acid in the finished wine. But in the vineyards we work with, we prune the grapes to about 3 tons per acre for maximum flavors and ripening, but harvest the grapes a bit earlier than most other producers. This approach gives our wines the ideal acid levels that make them such great food wines. It also yields manageable alcohol levels, so that you can enjoy our products without getting too tipsy, too fast. Starting with the 2008 vintage, we are targeting levels at or below 14 percent.
And that’s what we think sets Trio Vintners apart:
- Different varietals—we invite you to expand your palate!
- Less new oak—so that you can taste the wine’s own flavors first
- An earlier harvest—ensuring delicious natural acids and low alcohol levels
- Well-aged wines—older vintages and richer tastes
- Lower prices—so you can enjoy more good wine on a budget
- Lighter bottles—why use more glass? Why spend more to ship it?
- Less medal-seeking—our buyers are the judges and critics we listen to most.