Wine Industry Vintner and Patriarch Passes
Geyserville, CA: On
Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, at the age of 88, Sonoma County vintner and World War II
Veteran Leo Trentadue passed away of respiratory heart failure.
Born on July 30, 1925, in
Cupertino, California, Leo was raised on his family’s apricot ranch. Always the
humble farmer, Leo Trentadue is best known as the wine patriarch of Trentadue
Winery in Alexander Valley of Sonoma County. He was a devoted family man, and
his passing will be deeply felt by all who knew and appreciated Leo’s brave and
In 1959, Leo and his wife
Evelyn Trentadue decided to leave their Santa Clara County roots, and headed
north. They settled on their 150-acre ranch of plum trees, and 60 acres of
Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Carignan vines. Today, those original vines are
still producing excellent fruit, three generations later, on this 225 acre
Alexander Valley estate.
Leo Trentadue is also
known and appreciated as a celebrated war hero. Leo was awarded both a Bronze
Star and a Purple Heart for his World War II participation. At the age of 19,
Leo was drafted by the U.S. Army. Shortly thereafter he boarded the S.S.
Mauritania, bound for Liverpool. From Liverpool, he was put onto another boat
for Cherbourg, west of Omaha Beach. It took his troop three days—without
food—to cross the Channel. This was August of 1944, and where he stayed for two
months at the front line.
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When Leo Trentadue
celebrated his 79th birthday in 2004, it was with a trip to the verdant forests
of northern France, exactly 60 years later. Taken with his wife Evelyn and son
Victor, according to his earlier accounts, “This is where I was nearly put into
the earth by German bullets . . . several times. I might have done well in a
casino, in those days. You could certainly have called me ‘Lucky.’ But of all
the times I should have been killed, I was most lucky when a bullet went
through my left bicep. Had I turned the other way, it would surely have gone
through my heart!”
Leo had particularly fond
memories of this trip. Quoting earlier recounts, “Everyone says that the French
hate Americans, and I will admit that some Parisians may be a little curt. But
as soon as we got out into the country, especially where the fighting was all
those years ago, we were treated like royalty. People came up to us, saying,
‘If it hadn’t been for you, we’d be speaking German today.’ There were as many
as four memorials each day. At Blamont, where I was wounded, we attended a
special ceremony. They feted us with food and wine at every event. The red
wines were much lighter than ours, and you could drink them almost like beer.
What really surprised me was that there were still concrete World War I
bunkers—my father had served in the US Army at Verdun, not too far from where I
was wounded—that looked like they had been in use yesterday.”
Had that been the case,
wine country would have had to forego the excellent, justly famed “Geyserville”
Zinfandels; not only from Trentadue, but also from Ridge Vineyards. Together,
it was they who initially put those wines on the map.
The deceased is survived
by his wife Evelyn Trentadue, son Victor Trentadue, daughters Annette
Trentadue, and Leanne Allen. Daughter-in-law Cindy Trentadue. Son-in-law Gary
Allen. Grandchildren are the following: Steven and Tyler Trentadue (Victor
Trentadue’s children), Crystal Kovanda (husband is Andrew Kovanda), and twins
Brittany and Tiffany Allen.
Preceded in death is
Annette Trentadue’s daughter Nicole Biagi, who passed away several years ago.
Labels: Leo Trentadue, Wine Industry Vintner and Patriarch Passes. California Ag News