by Fred McMillin
for September 21, 1998


Happy Rosh Hashanah


In honor of the Jewish New Year, today's wine has an Old Testament connection. The name is Eshcol (esh-cole), which refers to Biblical times and means "a large bunch of grapes." The drawing pictures Joshua and Caleb bringing such a bunch to Moses, which they found near the brook of Eshcol.

The Evolution of

1852—Massachusetts sea captain Joseph W. Osborne establishes a vineyard at Oak Knoll, which soon becomes the largest (50 acres) in the Napa Valley.

1863—Capt. Osborne has become the leading vintner in the valley when a former employee murders him. The estate has expanded to 1,800 acres.

1882—The estate acquires new owners, Napa bankers James and George Goodman, and a new name, Eshcol.

1886—A large wooden winery is built on the property.

1935—The winery-vineyard reopens after Prohibition. Its principal activity is supplying grapes to Beringer.

1968—Kaiser Industries President Eugene Trefethen (treh-FETH-en) purchase the property, which is now 600 acres, the largest estate vineyard in the Napa Valley.

Eshcol1973 - Son John and his bride, Janet, revive the origional wooden winery and produce the first Trefethen wine. A few years later they introduce a second label, Eshcol, good wine at a very good price. It still is today, a Chardonnay and a Cabernet from prestigious Napa Valley grapes...a real bargain in the $11 range.


When Eugene Trefethen purchased the old "Eshcol Ranch Vineyard" thirty years ago, he knew there was some replanting in his future. You see, the ground was covered with such smashing varieties as Monduese, Golden Chasselas and the unforgettable Lenore.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.



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