Longtime members of Sonoma County Farm Bureau are dedicated to continuing family’s agricultural legacy

By Tim Tesconi

The Trentadue family, firmly rooted in Geyserville for a half century, were agricultural transplants in 1959 when they came north to pursue their passion for farming in the fertile fields of Sonoma County.

The march of urbanization in the Santa Clara Valley had swallowed the Trentadue family’s apricot and cherry orchards and they needed new ground to farm.  Family patriarch Leo Trentadue was ready to buy land in Patterson, a vast farming region in the Central Valley where many of the other displaced Santa Clara County farmers were relocating their fruit farming operations.

But Leo’s wife Eveyln Trentadue, a formidable force of nature who had family and ties in the Dry Creek Valley and around Geyserville, declared – no matter what – she was going north to beautiful Sonoma County where prune, pear and apple orchards were still part of the county’s agricultural production.  It was the farming era before Sonoma County had become a major player on the world’s wine stage and would transition from a hard scrabble ranching community to its more polished Wine Country image.

Evelyn Trentadue made it clear she wanted no part of Patterson, a dry and dusty farming outpost far from everywhere.

“Basically, she told my Dad you can go to Patterson if you want to but I’m going to Sonoma County,” said grape grower Victor Trentadue, 65, Leo and Evelyn’s only son who inherited the Trentadue gene for farming.

Leo Trentadue would later admit that Evelyn was absolutely right about heading north, repeatedly acknowledging to family, friends and the press that landing in Sonoma County was the best move he ever made.  Evelyn passed away eight years ago but her family remains eternally grateful that she insisted on relocating to what they have long considered the promised land in terms of agriculture and community.

“Agriculture is what drives Sonoma County and my family is proud to be part of the county’s agricultural community. We have been here more than 50 years now and look forward to the next generations of our family farming and making wine for the next 50 years,” said Victor Trentadue, who has been growing grapes for more than 40 years.

And it’s fortunate for Sonoma County that the Trentadue family settled here.  The Trentadues are farmers first and foremost – dedicated stewards of the land and generous supporters of the community they call home.

As life-long agriculturists, Evelyn and Leo Trentadue, who established Trentadue Winery in 1969, were among the visionaries who contributed to building Sonoma County into the wine superpower it is today.

Leo Trentadue died in 2014 and Evelyn died the following year. But their passion for agriculture continues with their children and grandchildren who are determined to keep their land and winery under family ownership.

Victor Trentadue and his sons, Steven, 36, and Tyler, 32, fifth generation farmers, are carrying on the family’s farming tradition that has stretched over a century in California. The family’s agricultural roots go back even deeper to Bari, a region in southern Italy, where the Trentadue name, which means 32 in Italian, is legendary.

Victor Trentadue, who started driving a tractor in their Geyserville prune orchards when he was 8 years old, is the owner of Four Seasons Vineyard Management, which custom farms more than 800 acres of vineyards in Sonoma County including the 200 acres of estate vineyards that are part of the Trentadue Family Trust.

Steven, who learned farming from his father and grandfather, is taking over more of the day-to-day operations of Four Seasons Vineyard Management including overseeing the crew of 40-45 employees. Meanwhile, Tyler Trentadue is working as a cellar rat in the family winery to learn all aspects of the winemaking process.

Many of the vineyard workers employed by Four Seasons Vineyard Management have been with the company for 20 years or more. The workers are valued for their unique skills in the precision farming required to grow premium grapes.

“We treat our employees like family because we consider them part of our family,”  said Victor who has a hands-on-management style, working side by side with his employees in the vineyards. He admits he is slowing down a bit at 65.

“I don’t get on the equipment like I used to,” said Victor, who lives with his wife Cindy on a 60-acre ranch in the Dry Creek Valley. It’s where he and his wife raised their sons and spend their free time growing vegetables and fruits, making homemade sausage and preparing the Italian dishes that have been part of their family’s culinary heritage.

The ranch where they live and farm once belonged to Evelyn Trentadue’s relatives who were among the early Italians farming in northern Sonoma County.  Evelyn was a member of the Consani and Santini families.

Victor and his family are long-time members of Sonoma County Farm Bureau and hold the organization in high regard for protecting the interests of farmers and landowners.  He said he relies on Farm Bureau to keep him informed on the increasing regulations coming down on land, water, air and labor. He also uses the Farm Bureau training programs in such areas as worker safety and sexual harassment for his vineyard workers.

“As farmers we need someone watching out for us and advocating on our behalf. We depend on Farm Bureau to keep us up-to-date on what’s happening and to be our voice,” said Trentadue. Both Four Seasons Vineyard Management and Trentadue Winery are premium members of Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

Victor and his sisters Annette Trentadue and Lisa Trentadue Allen are the owners of Trentadue Winery, which is in a family trust established by their parents. Victor is president of Trentadue Winery but the trust has an executive management team that operates the winery on a daily basis while implementing the strategic business plans that ensures the Trentadue legacy lives on for decades to come.

Victor said he enjoys going on the road to represent Trentadue Wines and tell the family’s story of generational farming and winemaking.

Jim DeBonis, a Sonoma County native who started his wine industry career in 1987 as cellar master at Healdsburg’s Simi Winery, is the chief executive officer at Trentadue, a position he has held since 2017.

Miro Tcholakov, vice president of winemaking operations, has been the winemaker at Trentadue for the last 23 years. Tchalokov is credited with escalating the quality of Trentadue wines, using his skills to capture the flavor essence of grapes like sangiovese, zinfandel and montepulciano from the family vineyards farmed by Victor Trentadue.

Trentadue Winery annually produces 36,000 cases of wine under four labels with the Trentadue Estate label encompassing the family’s high-end wines. Wines are also made under the La Storia Wines and OPR labels. A line of dessert wines including the popular chocolate amore port round out the Trentadue line of wines.

The Trentadue wines are distributed in 37 states and Canada. The Trentadues take pride in having customers visit their scenic property in the Alexander Valley to taste their wines and experience the region’s beauty.

Over the years, the Trentadue family has created beautifully inviting grounds around the tasting room. The gardens, fountains and statuary lend an Old-World ambiance that makes the winery a destination for visitors from far and near. An Italian style pavilion, bordered by an expansive grapevine arbor, is a popular site for Wine Country weddings throughout the year.

Steven Trentadue and his wife, Bianca, who is employed at Redwood Credit Union, were married at Trentadue Winery last year.

Like many farmers and Farm Bureau members, the Trentadues are generous supporters of their community, helping raise funds for fire departments, law enforcement, animal welfare groups and other organizations. For several years, Trentadue Winery has hosted “Wine Country to the Rescue,” a dinner and auction to benefit the Cloverdale, Geyserville and Healdsburg fire departments.  With Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, as the auctioneer last year’s event, held in July, raised $335,000 for the fire departments.  Trentadue will host the event again this year and is looking forward to having the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department’s  annual barbecue on the winery grounds.

“I like helping the community because this community has been good to us,” said Trentadue.

(You can reach Tim Tesconi at tim.tesconi@gmail.com)