Truchard Vineyards is located in the Carneros District in southern Napa Valley. The vineyards and winery were founded by Tony and Jo Ann Truchard in 1974 (both Texas natives). They sold grapes exclusively until 1989 when they began making their own wine. They prefer to think of themselves as a “big vineyard with a small winery” – the reasoning behind this is they carefully hand-craft small production lots of each of the wines they make – yet sell the majority of their grapes to other well regarded producers from their 400 acre vineyard. Both Tony and Jo Ann are originally from Texas – having grown up only 30 miles from each other. In 1887 Tony’s grandfather Jean Marie Truchard (along with his brother, Father Anthony Marie Truchard, a Catholic priest) immigrated from a small town outside of Lyon, France to the tiny rural community of Cat Spring, in Austin County Texas (about a 90 minute drive due west of Houston not far from the 10 freeway). Cat Spring is spread out; this is very rural Texas – the community dates back to 1832 when German immigrants settled here. The town was named after a puma that was killed at a local spring. The town’s agricultural history is deeply rooted; Cat Spring is home to the state’s oldest oldest agricultural society, appropriately named Cat Spring Agricultural Society, founded in 1856. Those interested in reading more about this town, if they can find a copy, can reference The Cat Spring Story, a book published in 1956. Once the Truchard brothers settled on their land, they soon planted grapes and built a family winery (Truchard Winery) on their 500-acre property. Other wineries also operated in Cat Spring but when Prohibition came, these wineries including Truchard Winery went out of business and never reopened after Prohibition. With the advent of Prohibition coupled with the challenges of growing grapes in this humid climate – Tony’s grandfather made an agricultural pivot – removed the vineyards, converted the winery to a barn and began raising cattle instead. Remarkably the old winery is still standing on property still owned by the Truchard family. Visiting this building is humbling (we were accompanied by Tony’s brother, Francis) – a bit sad to see its current condition – beaten by time and weather it remains, a powerful testament to the family’s entrepreneurial spirit. Over the years the old building has been modified slightly with tin siding and roofing added much later to help protect it from the elements. Now, it stores numerous ancient relics and tools from their family history. The iron press used in their wine making operations is still here – lying in the soil just outside of the winery. And the old family house is also still standing, long since been abandoned.
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