With over 85 local wineries and approximately 110,000 acres of production, Lodi’s wine region is the largest appellation in California and among the best in the country. We caught up with one of Lodi’s most skilled vintners, Jeremy Trettevik of Jeremy Wine Co., to learn how he went from student to teacher and made his dream a reality. Jeremy's boutique winery now harvests more than 70 tons of grapes each year, and the results are, well, delicious. Here’s an inside look at his budding business.
Jeremy , Choral, and Ladybug (photograph courtesy of Jeremy Wine Co.)
Creating the Vision
For most vintners, the road to success isn’t an easy one. Learning the craft takes years of dedication, with many vintners working their way from the bottom to the top. The same is true of Trettevik, who got his start back in 1994 when he worked as a “cellar rat” for Sebastiani Vineyards. “After a few harvests there, I went to work for Gnekow Winery, starting in the cellar, then into the lab and onto sales and marketing,” he said. Before long, he was off to Michael-David Winery, where his interest took a new turn. “Wine has always been a passion of mine, and I was intrigued by the large (3-liter and larger) bottles that I would see around. I started a company etching and painting them. After a couple years of being approached for design work, I started a packaging design studio and did that work for nine years before getting the wine bug again and starting our winery,” Trettevik said.
Building the ‘Dream Team’
While Trettevik is the face of the brand, his team is never far from view. “My wife Choral is my No. 1. When we first got started, she would help me shoveling grapes, doing punchdowns and working the tasting room,” he said. They even have a mock chief security officer in their beloved pooch, Ladybug. “On top of that, we’re backed by a fantastic team both in the tasting room and winery,” he said. Mandy Raught serves as their tasting room manager and Chris Mora, their cellar master.
Forming the Secret Recipe
In terms of locking down a location, Lodi was always on Trettevik’s radar. “Lodi gives all the wineries opportunities to explore new varietals and processes of winemaking,” he said. Another perk is the friendly nature of the local industry. “There still is a ton of camaraderie between the wineries too, and that doesn’t exist everywhere.” So, with a nurturing community and ideal wine-growing weather conditions, Trettevik has a lot to work with. “We do a ton of varietals and about 22 different lots of wine, constantly changing from year to year. It’s one of the benefits of not owning any set vineyards,” he said. Despite having more than 20 options to choose from, there are a few varietals that stand out year after year. “My personal favorite is Sangiovese, but of course everyone comes to Lodi looking for Zinfandel,” he said. While some popular varietals are to be expected, others are not so clear cut. “Probably the biggest customer surprises are our jug wine and delectable chocolate dessert wine (port),” Trettevik said.
Finding Their Voice
When it comes to standing out among other Lodi vintners, Jeremy Wine Co. takes a creative approach. Even their brand logo and accompanying wine labels give consumers a glimpse into their past. Before launching his own business, Trettevik spent 40,000 hours in the wine industry working for others. If you flip the "J" label upside-down, it turns into an "F," which represents that number of hours. Today, the vibe at Jeremy Wine Co. is as friendly as ever. “We pride ourselves in over-delivering on hospitality, and that, paired with great wines, is a winning combination,” Trettevik said. Whether toasting to a great week at work or celebrating the season with friends, swing by their downtown tasting room for a glass of wine.