Michael Trujillo has long been associated with several of Napa Valley’s notable wineries –
Karl Lawrence Cellars, KaDieM Cellars, Herb Lamb Vineyards, and Madrigal. As the director of winemaking at Sequoia Grove, and consultant at Materra/Cunat Family Vineyards where he helped design of both state of the art winemaking facilities, Trujillo tends to skirt the spotlight, letting his wines speak for themselves. But with the emergence of his own label, Trujillo Wines, the Napa resident is finding it harder to duck the accolades.
A Colorado native, Trujillo first visited the Napa Valley during a college road trip in 1982, and never left. Formerly a student of architectural engineering, he became a student of winemaking. His teacher? The great André Tchelistcheff, who served as a consulting winemaker at Sequoia Grove where Trujillo first landed. “Andre had a way of allowing you see the wine in a living sense,” said Trujillo. “He was amazing. He refused to become carried away with trends and never chased a certain style. He instilled in me the style of wine that I make today.”
Long an astute purchaser of premium grapes (he was an early adapter of Beckstoffer To Kalon and Dr. Crane Vineyard fruit during his time as Owner Partner and Winemaker for Karl Lawrence where he made what became known as ‘the cult wine without the cult price’) Trujillo and his eponymous label focus on Cabernet Sauvignon blends made with grapes from the diverse terroirs of his favorite vineyards: Rutherford’s Gary Morisoli Vineyards, St. Helena’s Healy Vineyards, Herb Lamb Vineyards, and Henry Brothers Ranch on Howell Mountain.
“This wine is an accumulation and blend of the grapes I love,” said Trujillo.
“I strive to give my wines a true varietal expression with perfect balance while expressing attributes that reflect vintage and sense of place.” His first Trujillo vintage was 2011 with 450 cases; growth has been steady since. Whenever he has what he believes to be an exceptional vintage he also creates a vineyard designate reserve – one, two, and three barrel lots that reflect the purest expression of vineyard and AVA pedigree.
Trujillo also makes a second companion label utilizing what he calls the ‘cuttings’ left over from his Trujillo blend. Named Madelyn after his daughter, the reasonably priced and approachable wine includes a bit more of Malbec and Merlot. “Madelyn wines are actually my way of keeping Trujillo Cabernet pure and consistent,” said Trujillo. “It provides me an avenue so that I don’t have to force everything into one blend.”
“This creation of high-end gems, middle, and lower tiered wines is fun,” says Trujillo. “I have a good time with my wines, and after 35 years in the business, it’s all coming together for me with Trujillo Wines – experience, relationships, consistency of quality. Wine is magical. I believe in wine and all it brings to life.”
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Article By: Fran Miller