Trahan & Olabisi: Downtown Napa’s Secret

Trahan Merlot

Once again, Katie from Honig Winery came through from us, recommending Trahan & Olabisi.  This tasting was a first for us since it was at a tasting room in downtown Napa.  No vineyards in the backyard, no view across the valley, in fact so unassuming, I forgot to take a photo of the location.  What the setting lacks in ambiance, it doubles down in terms of frickin awesome wine, especially the Trahan selections.

Linda and I met up with an old business school friend at the tasting room late in the day and began to try selections from both Trahan & Olabisi.  Both Trahan and Olabisi have worked in the winemaking business for a while before they started their own operations.  At some point, they ventured on their own, struck up a friendship, and decided to open up a joint tasting room in Napa.  One of their only employees and only man behind the bar, Chris began bouncing back and forth between pours of Trahan & Olabisi wines.

Off the bat, I knew I liked ALL the Trahan reds: Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cab.  They all had amazing fruit with balanced acidity and a complex character that left me drooling for more.  In simpler terms, these wines cost about $30 but acted like a $90 wine.  We spent some time talking with Chris more about the Trahan & Olabisi winemakers and discovered some interesting things about wine distribution.

For many small wineries, like Piña, their means of selling wine starts with their wine club and ends with their tasting room.  You can’t buy their wine home from a store or enjoy it out at dinner.  That’s not too surprising for wineries that don’t produce much product.  What is interesting is the economics between wineries that use distributors and those that don’t.  We discovered that distributors take somewhere around 50% of a wine’s price, meaning a winery that needs to take home $30 for each bottle has to sell the bottle for $60 in the store.  Worse, they have to price the wine at $60 for their club and tasting room as well.

Lucky for us, Trahan & Olabisi are still small enough that they don’t have to deal with this issue.  We left the tasting room with 2 bottles each of the Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cab.  This place is definitely a secret of Napa; hopefully we keep it that way.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, Red Wine

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