The history of the winery dates back to 1874, when the Swiss-German immigrant John Thomann established a small winery and distillery in St. Helena in central Napa Valley. After his death, the winery and Victorian home beside it were sold to another Swiss family, the Leunbergers who renamed the estate Sutter Home.
As with most Napa Valley wineries, Sutter Home was shut down during Prohibition. The winery remained abandoned until 1948, when it was purchased by John and Mario Trinchero, immigrant brothers from New York City whose family had been active in the Italian wine business. The Trincheros refurbished the winery and began producing Napa Valley wines, initially scraping by making generic jug wines. For years they operated “mom-and-pop” style, selling to their Napa Valley neighbors who filled their barrels and bottles at the winery’s back door.
A turning point occurred in 1968, when Louis “Bob” Trinchero (Mario's oldest son) sampled a homemade Zinfandel made from grapes grown in the Sierra foothills, California’s famed Gold Rush country. Impressed by the character and intensity of this robust, spicy red wine, Bob began vinifying Amador County Zinfandel.
Still family-run, Bob and Roger Trinchero and Vera Trinchero Torres, along with Vera’s sons, Anthony and Robert Torres, manage a large winemaking organization, overseeing operations from grapegrowing and production, marketing and sales. The Trincheros are noted for their industry leadership, commitment to sustainable agriculture and preserving the environment.
Today, Sutter Home is the sixth-largest winery in the United States. All production, bottling, shipping and warehousing operations are concentrated in three modern facilities in Napa County. The original winery site on Highway 29 houses the winery’s Visitors Center.
White Zinfandel production was increased from 25,000 cases in 1981 to 1.3 million in 1986, while currently producing about 10 million cases a year, with Sutter Home White Zinfandel making up 45 percent of the sales.