Being the first in his family to go to college, James Frey met Andrea Lassa at university. With limited resources and much debt, they began their life together with the hope to one day own a piece of land on which they could farm, raise a family, and make a living.
In 2003, the opportunity presented itself, and James and Andrea purchased a steep and rocky site five miles outside the town of McMinnville. They moved their young children to Oregon, planted a vineyard, and founded Trisaetum (tris-say-tum) in one of the few places where climate, soil, and entrepreneurial spirit combine to produce some very special wines. Two years later, they found another piece of land twenty minutes away on Ribbon Ridge, cleared the site, planted a second vineyard, and eventually built the winery where the wines are made today.
The name Trisaetum is an amalgam of James and Andrea’s two children—Tristen and Tatum.
Not having gone to school for wine, James Frey trained himself to become a winemaker with the help of mentors like Oregon’s Josh Bergström and Burgundy’s Jacques Lardiere.
Since the family lives on site, James and Andrea have been committed to farming in a manner that creates a healthy and diverse ecosystem. This includes preservation of the natural habitats that surround their vineyards, dry-farming, never using herbicides, never tilling, extensive composting, bee-friendly viticulture and hand-harvesting every cluster.
Today, Frey Family Wines encompass the brands of Trisaetum (Willamette Valley); 18401 Cellars (Walla Walla) and Pashey (Sparkling); all produced by James at the winery on Ribbon Ridge. Despite outside influences pushing for expanded production, staying small and very hands-on has become a core principle; therefore, production levels have remained constant at a total of around 6,000 cases each vintage.