All truly passionate winemakers dream of the day when they get an opportunity to immerse themselves in unique vineyards and fully utilize their talents to create something extraordinary. Some never quite make it, while others ascend to the top with passion, work ethic, and a knack for blending science and artistry.
Tres Goetting is a 34-year Napa Valley enologist and viticulturist veteran who has made his mark and reputation at a few Napa Valley wineries, but he looks to Biale as his career “moment in the spotlight.”
Tres first paid his dues as a teenaged “cellar rat” in 1987. Then, following college and armed with a razor-sharp palate, took steady steps to move up–hand-crafting wines at three touted Napa Valley grower/ producers. Now he has stepped up again to find his ideal niche at Biale.
Tres first worked at a small family winery in his hometown of Napa, then went off to college to major in Agricultural Science and Forestry with minors in Environmental Ethics and Music at Cal State University at Humboldt. After college, Tres realized that, rather than the forest, Napa Valley and winemaking were where he really wanted to be. He rose from the cellar to assistant winemaker at St. Clement Vineyards in St. Helena, where he developed his keen wine sense and was immersed in every aspect of wine production, from grapes to glass.
Tres’s most recent winemaking stint was with the highly-respected Krupp Brothers Winery/ Stagecoach Vineyards and Valley of the Moon Winery’s new top-tier Zinfandel program. Tres has also produced custom wine for the prestigious Post Ranch Inn at Big Sur. Prior to Krupp Brothers, Tres worked in all aspects of winemaking as an Associate Winemaker at Ladera Vineyards (2004 to 2010), where he gained career experience working with estate vineyards and closely managing his staff to transition the fruit from vine to barrel to bottle.
It takes a team to produce the Biale wines. Assistant Winemaker David Natali and Cellar Lead Miguel Plancarte help craft the wines in the cellar. Tres works in harmony with Biale’s vineyards guru, Bob Biale, and right-hand man, Raul Ramirez, to co-manage and fully understand the intricacies of each of Biale’s vineyards–hands on. Unleashing the full potential and ultimate expression of each unique vineyard is the winery’s goal, which is why winemaking at Biale is such an ideal situation for Tres. He couldn’t be happier, and Bob Biale appreciates having a fellow vineyards/ “vit” guy help to size up these historical and sometimes quirky Zinfandel vineyards with their dry farming, deep roots, big trunks, and sometimes–mixed varieties.
Says Tres, “I believe in minimalistic vinification techniques in the winery. I feel that it is best to focus efforts in the vineyard to get things right so that the wines do not require a lot of attention and will ultimately speak of the vineyards from which they were grown. A legendary vineyard is one that is extraordinary and shows consistency in quality year after year. It is something that is unique and stands the test of time. Like a legendary author, actor, musician, or sports figure, a legendary vineyard becomes famous for its proven ability to perform at the highest level leaving unforgettable impressions on those who admire.”
Tres has made all kinds of wines in his career, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Chardonnay to Pinot Noir. What is it about Zinfandel that drives him? “Zinfandel is a finicky variety that keeps you on your toes.” It can be a real challenge in the vineyard and the winery–doing the bunch by bunch fieldwork, selecting the primary crop, getting the ripeness just right, measuring the sugars and acids, and getting the fermentations to cooperate, etc. But when we nail it, it’s so exciting to be tasting those popping flavors and unique character that each of these rare and beautiful vineyards can give us. There is no other grape like it for excitement, pleasure, fun, drinkability, or food pairing.”
In music circles, Tres and his family are known to be a long-time, vital part of Napa’s music scene. He is a professional bassist who plays with local winemaker bands and occasionally with high-profile artists. He can be seen playing at the Napa festival, Bottlerock, with his local band.
(Winemaking and Vineyard team pictured: Raul, David, Tres, Miguel, and Bob)