Linda Trotta

Winemaker & Consultant


Background    

     Born and raised in Southern California, Linda's childhood was split between suburban Burbank and beach-town San Juan Capistrano.  A second generation Italian-American, her decision to study winemaking at UC Davis brought her family a delight that was matched only by her subsequent decision to spend a year of study in Italy.  At the Universita` degli Studi di Padova Linda set aside her wine course-work to study Italian art history.  Her first interaction with a commercial winery came when she took a brief break from her art studies to experience harvest at Santa Margherita Winery in the Veneto.  Winemaking had now thoroughly hooked Linda and in 1986 her professional winemaking adventure began.  In 1989 she arrived at Gundlach Bundschu Winery. 

     Linda believes in the importance of a broad perspective on winemaking and indeed on life.  While with GBW she took two sabbaticals to work harvests in the Southern Hemisphere.  In the mid 1990's she spent time at Santa Monica Winery in the Rapel Valley, Chile.  And in 2003 she worked with Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons in Paarl, South Africa, which included the opportunity to interact with consulting winemaker Michel Rolland.

     In 2010 Linda further broadened her perspective by joining Swiftwater Cellars in Washington State, a start-up winery on a destination resort property in the Eastern Cascade Mountains.  

 

Winemaking

     As Director of Winemaking at Gundlach Bundschu Winery Linda spear-headed improvements to the winemaking program.  Equipment upgrades impacted every stage of vinification.  Winemaking plans were tailored to individual vineyard blocks and she established written standard procedures for every operation in the cellar.  Linda worked with a wide ranging line-up of grape varieties, making well-regarded wines reflective of the distinct vineyard sites from which they were grown; as well as blended wines that express a consistency of style and profile.  In addition to the estate vineyards, which encompassed both the Sonoma Coast appellation and south-west facing Mayacamas hillside sites, Linda worked with fruit purchased from vineyards in appellations throughout the Central and North Coasts.

     At Swiftwater Cellars Linda developed a winemaking program that continued to deliver her signature style of balance and elegance to wines made from Columbia Valley grapes that have very different profiles than those grown in California's North Coast.  She defined and fulfilled equipment needs  and developed technical and operating procedures to meet quality and stylistic objectives.  

     


Equipped the cellar and instituted winemaking programs and protocols, building the wine portfolio from 4 to 14 products by 2014.  Established relationships with growers at some the the most amazing vineyard sites in the Columbia Valley, including vineyards in Red Mtn, Walla Walla, Horse Heaven, Wahluke Slope and Yakima Valley. 
Very pleased to have the wines well-received beginning with my first vintage, including 90+ scores and a spot on the 2014 Seattle Met list of top 100 WA Wines.
Being a start-up, there are many hats to be worn:
* Wine Bar -- Implemented operating procedures and sales programs, as well as provide training to wine bar staff.
* Distributor Sales -- Managing the winery's Seattle-based distributor by setting and monitoring sales goals, incentive programs, depletion allowances and working the market in support of their efforts.
* Wine Cost Accounting -- Track wine CoG's and provide the winery's accounting firm with detailed cost analyses.
* Inventory Control -- Devised case goods inventory tracking system that interfaces with government compliance reporting needs

Wine Growing      

     Managing Gundlach Bundschu's diverse 300 acre estate vineyard afforded Linda the opportunity to literally make wine from dirt to bottle.  She directed the redevelopment of 20 acres of vineyard, including decisions regarding pre-planting soil amendments, drainage, irrigation sets, rootstocks / clones, row direction, and spacing.   She managed established blocks ranging in age from 1 to 35 years old that had been planted to a variety of pruning and trellising styles.  With the objective of achieving grape maturity that supports stated wine style and quality objectives, she implemented changes to wine growing strategies and vineyard practices.  This impacted every input from vineyard floor to canopy management.  Large heterogeneous blocks were divided into smaller sets and differentially farmed to their specific needs.  These efforts resulted in healthier vines as well as wines of improved balance and texture that clearly express the sites from which they originate.

     Upon her arrival at Swiftwater Cellars, Linda developed collaborative relationships with talented growers at some the the most sought after vineyard sites in the Columbia Valley, including Red Mountain, Walla Walla, Horse Heaven, Wahluke Slope and Yakima Valley.  These partnerships allowed her to assemble a grape sourcing program that ensured fruit in alignment with wine quality, style and financial objectives. 


Leadership

     "A winery's most important resource is its people."  Linda's goal is that each employee be informed, engaged and enthused about the effort to which they are contributing.  Utilizing personnel development strategies tailored to the individual she has built strong, cohesive teams in both the winery and the vineyard.  The benefits of this effort are two-fold:  1. It creates a strong and resilient company.  2. It attracts to the organization young talent early in their careers, many of whom have gone on to succeed in winemaking posts with well-regarded wineries.

     Linda was fortunate to receive similar mentoring from winemaking and wine growing consultants Zelma Long and Phil Freese. Working with each of them, her skill set in growing and making world class wines was enriched and honed.  This prepared and inspired her to move on in her career, seek new challenges and further build upon her successes.

     The dynamic environment of a start-up winery provided the ideal next career challenge for Linda.  There are many hats to be worn in a newly formed business.  In addition to building the winemaking program, she brought her leadership skills to other parts of the company:  providing operations standards and staff training in the tasting room; managing distributor sales; managing the contracted PR firm in promoting the winery's brand to the market; developing cost analysis models to support pricing strategies; devising a case goods inventory control system that interfaces with government compliance reporting.

     Linda also brings her leadership skills to industry organizations with the goal of fostering education and collaboration among winemakers and wine growers to further wine quality.  Notably, she is currently Chair of the Winemaking Forum for Wine Women, and has served as President on the Board of Directors for the Washington Wine Technical Group.