The “experiment” was concealed in a 5-gallon Tupperware container, tucked behind a couple of boxes and hidden beneath a towel in the garage of his Forestville home.
But 15-year-old renegade Trini Amador IV was busted when his parents discovered his secret potion — fermenting pinot noir.
Today, Amador is the winemaker/partner of Gracianna Winery, the producer making noise with its new tasting room in Healdsburg and tasty wines that are turning heads. Amador grins remembering that quirky experiment 12 years ago that set his winemaking adventure in motion.
“My parents weren't very happy with it because I was making alcohol and I had to pour it out,” Amador says.
Of course, it wasn't long before they realized Amador wasn't mischievous — just curious.
“When we realized Trini was genuinely interested in ‘how do you turn a grape into wine,' we wanted to support that interest and decided to buy him some more professional equipment for Christmas that year,” explains his father, Trini Amador III.
For Trini the teenager, that winemaking kit was packaged ambition.
“I've been making wine ever since, every harvest from 2001 on,” he says. “It started as a curiosity. Then it grew into a hobby and now it has grown into a profession.”
Amador's latest enterprise? Establishing a tasting room to give Gracianna a home. The brand, which makes 1,200 cases a year, is being produced at Vinify Wine Services, a custom crush facility on Coffey Lane in Santa Rosa.
The rustic, chocolate-colored tasting room at 6914 Westside Road is barn-like, with broad sweeping doors. It has curb appeal and on a recent sunny day it reeled in two tourists from Glastonbury, Conn.
“We drove by and noticed the new place,” says Babak Atighechi. “A lot of wineries are kind of hidden, sealed up, but this was so open. It gives you the impression of a laid-back atmosphere with its big barn doors.”