Winemaker Interview: Trevor Durling

Trevor Durling

Trevor Durling

As our regular readers know, from time to time, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker to probe their winemaking philosophy and to gain insight into how they became who they are. This week, we are featuring Trevor Durling, who in 2017 took over the helm as the chief winemaker of Beaulieu Vineyard.

Trevor is a native of Northern California’s wine country, born and raised in Sonoma. Like many of his colleagues in Napa and Sonoma, he attended UC Davis, worked harvest (in his case, at Sonoma-Cutrer and Gloria Ferrer), and jumped into the industry full-time after graduation. He went from Moon Mountain Vineyard to Provenance Vinerads and Hewitt Vineyard. And in June 2017, he became the chief winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard.

Amazingly, Trevor is only the fifth chief winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard in its almost 120 years’ history. Now one of the most iconic American wine brands, Beaulieu Vineyard was founded by Georges de Latour in 1900. One of Trevor’s four predecessors at Beaulieu Vineyard is the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Where were you born and raised?

I’m a native Californian, born and raised in nearby Sonoma County.

When and how did you get into wine?

Growing up in Sonoma County, I always had an interest in wine, as I was surrounded by the culture. My parents had enthusiasm for enjoying great wines at dinner, so I was introduced to wine at a young age. By the time I arrived at college and was enrolled in UC Davis, my intention was to focus on the ROTC program and eventually become an officer in the US Air Force, following in my grandfather’s footsteps. He was a 37-year veteran, and I idolized him. But in the back of my mind, I also knew that UC Davis was renowned for its exceptional winemaking program, so I was interested in exploring this opportunity as a student at the university. I then enrolled in an introductory class to winemaking, which awakened my love of agriculture and science. Soon after that, I transferred to the university’s Viticulture and Enology program, which began my career in winemaking.

What has been your career path to where you are?

I started out in the industry with an internship at Sonoma-Cutrer in 2003 and two consecutive harvest internships making sparkling wine at Gloria Ferrer. After graduating from UC Davis, I joined Moon Mountain Vineyard, a small, well-regarded organic vineyard in Sonoma. In 2009, I moved over to Napa Valley and temporarily worked out of Beaulieu Vineyard supporting the winemaking team. I worked directly with my predecessors, Joel Aiken and Jeffrey Stambor, and learned a tremendous amount about the legacy and heritage of Beaulieu’s renowned winemaking, so I’ve really been involved with the vineyards and the crafting of the wines at Beaulieu for a decade.

Then, I joined Provenance Vineyards and Hewitt Vineyard in March of 2010 as assistant winemaker. Working under Tom Rinaldi, who is a great mentor of mine, I had the opportunity to craft fantastic wines sourced from some of the best vineyards within Rutherford and Napa Valley. That first year at Hewitt, I was so honored to see that my efforts contributed to the exceptional 2010 vintage of Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which earned the title of Wine Spectator’s No. 1 Cabernet Sauvignon in 2013, and the No. 4 spot on Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year list. It was an exhilarating and humbling experience, and Tom helped me put everything into perspective. When Tom retired in 2015, I was appointed Chief Winemaker at Provenance and Hewitt.

In your view, what makes your vineyards special?

What makes our wines so special is that we hand select grapes from the finest cabernet sauvignon vines on the western bench of the Rutherford AVA in our iconic BV Ranches 1 and 2. These were the first two vineyard properties originally purchased and planted by Georges de Latour himself in the early 1900s. In the 1990s, in collaboration with UC Davis, BV Ranch…

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