Episode 54: Where Wine Takes Us – Barry Wiss from Trinchero Family Estates

 Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates, Barry Wiss, CS, CWE, CSS joins Wine Two Five to share history, wisdom and Napa Valley legends. TFE is now one of the largest family-owned wine companies in the world, but it came from humble beginnings. You will be captivated by the story of Zinfandel, “The Lady That Brought Us To the Party” … albeit in the trunk of a 1962 Chrysler New Yorker … and the successes that have ensued. Also, we have updated information on our rescheduled Podcast Anniversary Soiree in Denver! Pour a glass, learn, laugh and enjoy this insightful and nostalgic journey through the vines.

Val:  “Welcome Wine-Two-Five listeners! This is episode 54 and we have a treat for you.”

Steph:  We do! We have with us, none other than Mr. Barry Wiss, Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates! Welcome Barry!”

ValWe’ll be chatting Barry up here in just a minute, but first let’s chat about what’s in our glasses to kick things off. Val?”


Val:  “I’m drinking “The Ball Buster.” Yes, that’s the name of the wine, from Tait in Barossa Valley, Australia. It’s a 2012 blend of Shiraz, Merlot & Cab … found it at Costco for $15.99 because I needed an Australian wine for a tasting note. And even at 15.5% alcohol, which is well-integrated, the wine is smooth, loaded with black fruit, spice & chocolate … and … about gone.”

Steph:  Nardini “Tagliatella” – an Italian liqueur made from grappa, sour cherry, bitter orange, herbs and spices. It is floral, spicy and fruity. Enjoy it neat, like me, or use it in a mixed cocktail. ($25 for 375mL)”

Barry: “Rose’ from WA state GSM Carignan by Charles and Charles.”

Discussion: Guest Barry Wiss

Barry is Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates, born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. His hospitality and education career has spanned over 25 years.

Barry became accustomed to true “southern hospitality” as an early age. Many of his relatives lived in the bayous of southern Louisiana where the food is fiery, the music lively, and the hospitality genuine and from the heart. At age 15, his hospitality career formally began with a position as busboy in a small restaurant. He started college at 16 to follow in his father’s footsteps and study geology, however, Barry determined his true passion was the hospitality industry. At age 17, while working as a restaurant manager, he entered the newly formed Hotel Restaurant Program at the University of New Orleans. He met his future wife Kim in a professional cooking class where, he recalls, she stole his heart over the pot sink.              

Exec Pic_TNV

Barry Wiss, Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates

Barry’s first hotel position was Assistant Executive Steward for the 1500 room Sheraton New Orleans, a post he still considers his toughest. Barry earned the respect of his colleagues in one of the hardest-working and busiest departments of the hotel. Upon gaining experience in back and front of the house operations, Barry was promoted to Food and Beverage Director and transferred to a new Sheraton property in Southern California. There, his greatest challenge was getting his staff to work when the surf was up.

Barry and Kim discovered the Napa Valley during a vacation, and decided to make the move to wine country. Barry became an evening maitre-d at the world renowned Tra Vigne Restaurant in St. Helena, which enabled him to learn more about his newfound passion for wine. While studying viticulture and enology at Napa Valley College, Barry learned of a position managing the replanting of a local vineyard. Wanting to make a good impression, he arrived at the interview wearing his best double-breasted suit and tie. The owner of the vineyard management company took one look and offered Barry the job simply because he had never seen anybody apply for work in the vineyards dressed like that.

In 1993, Barry became Hospitality Director at Schramsberg Vineyards, where he worked closely with the late Jack and Jamie Davies and designed their hospitality program. In 1995, Barry became Director of Hospitality and Education for Sutter Home Vineyards. Presently, Barry is Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates, and responsible for establishing one of the industry’s most creative and innovative culinary and wine education programs, Vine to Dine®. Vine to Dine® has received international accolades and has been described as the most innovative approach to wine education. Barry is also the author of the World Wine Challenge®.

Barry and Kim make their home in Napa, but a love of fine wines lures them away on tours of the world’s great wine regions. Barry is an avid fisherman, whose other passions include cooking, growing culinary herbs and tomatoes, and enjoying fine Irish Whisky. He is a Certified Wine Educator, Certified Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Spirits, he has also been awarded Advanced Level Certification with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and serves as the Vice President of the Society of Wine Educators.

We were tickled to chat with Barry where the sun was shining in a cloudless Napa sky just outside his office window (and the snow was melting here in Colorado – rub it in). He tells us that Trinchero Family Estates represents more than just wine, including different brands and spirits from around the world. Trinchero started from humble beginnings to become one of the world’s largest family-owned brands. It’s obvious Barry has a passion for the Trinchero family, Napa history and wine as he tells the beloved story of Sutter Home White Zinfandel, how it came about and how it made history, where Sutter Home is lovingly referred to as “The Lady That Brought Us to the Party” (so to speak). It all started with a stuck fermentation, bottles being dug out of the dumpster for reuse … and the trunk of a 1962 Chrysler New Yorker. You will want to listen to Barry tell it with full on passion and the charming New Orleans accent, of course.

Being a New Orleans – or Nawlins, one word – native, he is able to share with us the ideal place for a Sazerac cocktail, a great meal, and the best spot for cocktails to go … in Tupperware.  Barry takes this episode home with yet another funny story in answer to the question we ask all of our guests: “Do you have a funny or embarrassing wine story to share with our listeners?” This one happens in the vineyards and involves the winery dog dropping a freshly hunted rabbit at the feet of some shocked tourists.


Val: I’m going to plug this weekend’s SWE SWEbinars again. Greece is on Friday, Eastern Europe Saturday. You know, I’m having a heck of a time finding Romanian wine! Croatian is a bit easier. But I also learned that I wasn’t drinking Plavek Mali a few weeks ago – remember “Zinfandel’s daddy?” It’s pronounced “Plavatz”. So, Romanian & Croatian wine are on my radar right now.”


Steph: “We rescheduled our podcast anniversary soiree because of the nasty snow storm that swept through Denver this last weekend. The new date is April 30th. Same bat time and same bat cave.”


Steph: Matt Stamp, MS who taught the Napa Valley Master Class yesterday at Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder. It was a 3-hour GuildSomm tasting class with great information and stunning wines. We tasted through 4 flights and a total of 15 wines all from Napa. The class was co-sponsored by Napa Valley Vintners and GuildSomm.  Matt was witty and entertaining, but kept us on track and on time. The staff at Frasca was on-point, no surprise there, and the Zalto glassware was to die for.  I even got a little take-home gift – a new Pulltap’s corkscrew from Napa Valley Vintners. Yeah!

One more thing – I’ve included a link to more GuildSomm events and classes if you want to know what’s on their calendar for their members.”

Next week … we have our #W25Challenge winner on the show with us, Susan Golicic! Stay tuned for that…”

Connect with Val on Twitter @WineGalUnboxed and on the Vino With Val FB page, and on instagram as Vino with Val.

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One more thing… Don’t forget to use the #W25Challenge when you are trying new wines and drinks.

So until next week – Cheers!