Interview with Winemaker Erica Stancliff of Trombetta Wines, Stressed Vines & more…

Growing up in Sonoma County, wine has been a part of your life since a young age. Can you share more about what that was like and how it led to your winemaking career?

When I was younger, I was constantly dragged to tasting rooms, events and vineyards. It wasn’t until my mother started working with Paul Hobbs and he became a close friend that I grew to appreciate the industry. Paul and I were walking a Chardonnay vineyard in the RRV my senior year of high school, and that’s when I started finally asking questions. The light bulb went off and I applied to CSU Fresno to pursue my Enology degree.

Can you share how the brand Trombetta Wines got started?  This is family-owned, can you elaborate on what it’s like to work with your parents collectively on a brand?

In 2010 as I was finishing up my degree, my parents decided to start the label with guidance from Paul Hobbs and the plan to have me take over as winemaker. Working together always has its challenges as we are family and don’t always agree, but we agree about wine and our philosophy on how to make it.


In addition to making wine for Trombetta Wines you’re also involved in a few other brands. Can you tell us which ones and what varietals you make at each winery?

For Pfendler Estate Vineyards- we produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Petaluma Gap

O’Connell Vineyards- Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Russian River

Stressed Vines- Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast and Russian River, Cabernet from both Alexander Valley and Howell Mountain

Cirq- Russian River Pinot Noir


What is your winemaking philosophy?

I love working with small, well-maintained vineyards located all throughout Sonoma County. Each site is so special and unique that as a winemaker, I feel it is my duty to let the vineyard speak from the bottle – not my winemaking style. Stylistically- I look for balance between acid, ripeness and a full mid-palate to finish with food-friendliness in mind.


As a winemaker you taste (and spit) lots of wine, what wine do you feel bad about spitting because you love it so much?

Depends on the day honestly! Sometimes, I’m so wined out that I don’t mind spitting. Other days, give me the whole bottle!


What was one of the biggest mistakes you have made in your winemaking career?

I would say not believing in my worth as a winemaker. Every experience I’ve had has brought me to where I am today, so for that I am grateful, however, there have definitely been work experiences and jobs that I look back at and go- I did everything I could and no one will make me feel inferior because of my age or gender.


What is your favorite after-work drink?

Mood driven for me! Beer- Modelo Especial. Cocktail- Gin and Tonic with Lime. Wine- Sparkling / Champagne.


What is your favorite local spot in Sonoma County or Healdsburg (I know one of my favorite’s Valette is at the top of your list)?

IT’S SO HARD TO PICK! My favorites are Valette & Willis Wine bar. 


Tell us something that would surprise people about you?

 I’m an avid horseback rider and gym junkie. If I’m not in the winery or vineyard, the gym or barn are the 2 next best places to find me!

Winemaker Erica Stancliff

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