Napa Valley Winemaking with Trinitas Cellar's Kevin Mills

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Trinitas Cellars - Sun, Soil, and Humanity

Tucked away in the southern end of Napa Valley lies Trinitas Cellars, a family owned and operated winery pressing some of the best grapes in Northern California. Founded in 2002, Trinitas Cellars is owned and operated by the proprietors: Tim and Steph Busch and their son and daughter in law Garrett and Betsy. Drawing from their involvement in many Catholic organizations, the Busch’s named their wine endeavor, “Trinitas,” which is Latin for “trinity.” The “trinity” of Trinitas Wine Cellars refers to three elements that work in harmony to produce wine: sun, soil, and humanity. The Sun is representative of God as he nourishes the grapes, Soil, a product of the collaboration between God and man, and Humanity—the growers, winemakers, and extended family that contribute to Trinitas Cellars wines.

Winemaker Kevin Mills, Head Winemaker of Trinitas Cellars

Winemaker Kevin Mills hails, not from the green valleys of California, but from the breadbasket of the U.S. –Oklahoma. Mills’ grandfather moved back and forth between California and Oklahoma, but Kevin describes him as a “True Okie.” After spending some time in Madera working his way to be a vineyard manager, Mill’s grandfather quickly became convinced that grapes were well suited for Oklahoma, thus the beginnings of the family vineyards.  

With winemaking in his blood, Kevin Mills studied viticulture and enology in Texas and then went to establish Canadian River Winery. Winemaking in Oklahoma is not an easy endeavor, Mills comments, that “Mother nature doesn’t hold back. We’ve had our tails kicked by fungus, hailstorms, extreme heat, heavy rains, drought, frost, freeze, plagues of June bugs, and relentless winds.” Mills father continues to make wine at Canadian River Winery, and constantly jokes that “anyone can make wine in California.”

Kevin Mills - winemaker of Trinitas Cellars

Kevin Mills - winemaker of Trinitas Cellars

Though he’s making wine in one of the most renowned areas of the New World , Kevin Mills has a soft spot for Old World (European) wines –“If I could retire today, I would move to Piedmont and make a few hundred cases [of Nebbiolo] for my own consumption.” Some of Mills’ favorite wines currently come from Castillo della Sala in Umbria, which neighbors Tuscany, Mill’s other favorite wine region besides Napa. A winemaker that serves as inspiration for Mills is Renzo Cotarella, the resident winemaker of Tuscany’s Antinori Family of wines (famous for “Super Tuscans”).

It’s Kevin’s penchant for the elegance of Old World wines and the New World fruit that produce the fruit forward and elegant wines of Trinitas Cellars.

Trinitas Style

Trinitas Cellars seeks to create wines for every occasion. When asked what he hopes people experience when enjoying Trinitas Cellars wines, Mills replies, “Life! The good life, that is. I hope each bottle is enjoyed in the company of the three ‘F’s: friends, family, and food.”

I’m most happy, professionally, when people treat Trinitas wine like shampoo…wash rinse, and repeat. If you taste the wine and you want another glass, I’m as happy as a clam. When our wines are opened at dinners or parties, alongside other producers, and they are the first bottles empty…that’s heaven.
— Kevin Mills

Mills describes Trinitas wines as “elegant and fruit forward with great weight and mouthfeel.” A combination of Kevin’s standard for elegance and Garrett Busch’s fondness for powerful fruit forward wines.

Winemaking – A Team Sport


When asked how vineyards are selected for wines, Mills responds simply, “Mostly it comes down to relationships,” admitting, “that’s probably not the most romantic answer, but it’s true.” Elaborating, “it really boils down to trust, communication, site, and capability. For instance, I’ve been working with our Mendocino growers ‘The Johnsons’ for 15 years. Knowing that quality is the highest priority for both parties pushes us all. Winemaking is a team sport if ever there was one. “

Trinitas Cellars’ wines have incredible balance that is due to the efforts of the growers and Kevin Mills. For many of the “higher end” Trinitas wines, Mills uses not American or French oak, but Russian. The oak comes from the forests north of Sochi, where the growing season is cooler due in part to the large amounts of snow and rain, creating a wood that is extremely tight grained and sweet.

My philosophy is this: Pick the fruit when it’s ripe and don’t mess it up! What I mean by that is, when the fruit is great, don’t beat it up. Treat it with love and care. Give the wine the best barrels in which to live; make the environment perfect and protect it from harm (e.g. bad microbes and oxygen). That should do the trick.
— Kevin Mills

The Three “F”s

When asked if he could share a bottle of wine with anyone, living or dead, Kevin responded, “Oh, it would be a group. Michelle Obama, because she’s a bad ass. Barack can come along as well, if Michelle approves. John Prine, because he is my favorite singer/songwriter. Grandpa Clifton, because he never had the chance, and, of course, the Beastie Boys, because for my entire life, I have fought for my right to party.”

Join us as we share some wine in the company of Kevin’s three “F”s: friends, family, and food this Thursday, February 15, 2018 with an exclusive menu curated by chef Erin Sealy of Wine Pairs Events and Catering.