Winemaker Scot Covington believes that truly great, memorable wines can only be made on a small scale, from the highest quality grapes. In designing the cellar at the Trione Winery, Scot created an environment tailored to accommodate small lots of grapes harvested from the Trione estate vineyards.

The 3200 square feet cellar holds 14 open top fermenters and 7 blending tanks. The fermenters rest on 4 ½ foot legs, allowing the cellar crew to move the 6-ton basket press up to the tank’s main door when removing skins for pressing.

Glass walls and doors allow natural light to flow through the cellar and provide wide open views of the barrel room and beyond to Alexander Valley and Home Ranch. The compact, functional design suggests a craftsman’s studio. A covered work area outside allows the crew to work outdoors, just yards away from the estate vines.

All the Trione red wines ferment in small open-top vessels. The cellar crew hand-punches the caps four times daily for maximum flavor and color extraction. Scot installed a unique irrigation system that aerates fermenting wine while free-run wine is circulated over the cap. This practice maximizes yeast cell vitality and enhances the complexity of tannins.

The winemaker uses a strict 3-year barrel program for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; the Burgundian coopers are François Frères, Remond and Meyrieux. For the Bordeaux varieties, Scot uses Taransaud, Bossuet and Vicard in a 4-5-year rotation. He sees barrel aging as a traditional, natural way to elevate a wine’s flavor profile.

Red wines are bottled unfiltered. The Chardonnay is lightly fined and unfiltered, while the tank-fermented Sauvignon Blanc is lightly fined and filtered.

“I use natural indicators to guide my winemaking decisions,” says Scot. He judges berry ripeness in the vineyard by weather patterns, acid/sugar balance and tannin/skin/seed development. For Scot, minimal intervention means awareness of nature without manipulation.