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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Outdoor Oenophile: Creating A Winery For Hikers

A Q&A with Andy Podshadley, founder of California-based Trek Wine.

by: Becky Kivlovitz

image courtesy Trek Wine
image courtesy Trek Wine

Andy Podshadley is the founder and winemaker of Trek Wine in Novato, CA, fusing outdoor passions and winemaking prowess.  Taking both its mission and its aesthetic from nature, Trek Wine leads hikes and excursions for local youth in an attempt to cultivate the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and punctuation.

BACKPACKER: Wine and trekking—not a bad combination. How does a winery like Trek Wine pursue both outdoor exploration and making great wine?

Andy Podshadley: Wine is an adventure--when people start drinking wine they usually start with sweet wines and as they progress on their wine trek as they become more educated and their pallet more refined and they move into the bigger wines such as a Cabernet Sauvignon. In my opinion, exploring these new wines is like exploring a new trail. You never know what you will find around the next bend.

BP: Was there a specific trip or hike that inspired the foundation of the winery?

AP: My son and I came up with the name for the winery during a climb up the Grand Teton. It seemed the perfect name, combining my two passions. Many of the treks we have taken around the United States have been awe inspiring - from Havasu Falls to the Grand Tetons to Mt. Whitney and many others. Different terrain and weather, all beautiful in their own way. From all these experiences I strive to bring this beauty into every bottle I make.

BP: How do you feel about drinking en route?

No, because most of the time I hike with youth—no alcohol on those trips. But when my wife and I were first married. I took her on a backpacking trip and I surprised her with a bottle of wine and real wine glasses. And we are currently looking into wine bags that will have wine in them when purchased but when empty can be turned into a water bag. We also sell wine canteens. Relaxing with a glass of wine while soaking in the scenery is a great finish to a day of hiking

BP: Agreed.  You mentioned hiking with youth as a way Trek Wine gives back to the community.

AP: Yes. Trek Winery makes many donations to non-profits. We have a Wounded Warrior Project fundraiser June 28th and we are especially focused on events that help our youth. We actually had a high school and college team come together to construct our tasting room.

BP: I loved the spirit of adventure in the design of the tasting room. Climbing gear décor, a mountain range on the entrance sign, and you mentioned future plans for the national park footage playing on screens behind the bar.

AP: Yeah, and we have aspen trees placed around the winery as well as wood finishes throughout. Our lighting is accented with old lanterns and we have some climbing gear placed around the winery. We have many windows that look out onto our patio with trees and a granite water fall that flows into a large pond--landscaped to look like a mountain scene.

BP: A down-to-earth oasis in the hoity-toity California wine scene. And what's a serious oenophile's draw to Trek Wine?

AP: It’s good. We take great pride in choosing the best grapes for all our wines. We produce small lots (500 cases or less) of each wine. Great care is taken to make the best wine possible. We also want to start inviting Trek Wine fans to join us on planned hikes throughout the year, evoke greater love for outdoor adventure in the wine community.

Info: Trek Wine, 1026 Machin Ave, Novato, CA 94945; 415-899-9883;

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