Trefethen Vineyards was established in 1886 as Eshcol, a biblical word for “lush cluster of grapes.” Following retirement from a successful career with Kaiser Industries, Eugene Trefethen along with his wife Katie purchased Eshcol in 1968 along with six adjoining properties to create Trefethen Vineyards. At that time, replanting of the vineyards and restoration of the historic winery building began.
The Trefethens' restoration efforts were recognized in 1988 by the Department of the Interior, which placed the winery on the National Register of Historic Places as the only 19th-century, wooden, gravity-flow winery surviving in Napa County. The winery is also known for an extensive garden established by Katie. It has been featured in many publications and has been a destination for many gardening enthusiasts since it was created.
In 1979, a Wine Olympics was organized by the French wine and food magazine, GaultMilllau. A total of 330 wines from 33 countries were evaluated by 62 experts from ten countries. The 1976 Trefethen Vineyards Chardonnay won first place in that category and was judged best in the World.