Travail is a labor of love. Our team, like our operation, is intentionally small, so that each of us is close to every part of the winegrowing process. Every planting, every harvest, every bottle.
"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
Theodore Roosevelt, September 7, 1903
Frank & Cheryl Birnie
Frank grew up working on his grandparents’ sharecropper farm. It was there that he fell in love with gardening and cultivating fruit trees. The farm’s cash crop was corn, which was purchased mostly by bourbon distillers. In that sense, Frank’s passion for growing grapes is the inevitable extension of a young life spent cultivating the family’s favorite crop.
Cheryl, on the other hand, was hoping that Travail would become a grand garden of rose cultivars. But a visiting winemaker friend convinced her that the land was begging for grapes, not roses. And so she turned her attention, and her palate, to winemaking. If you visit Travail, you'll likely see Cheryl with her two yellow labs, Tucker and Lovey, in tow.
Thomas joined us in 2013 as a consulting winemaker. His work spans over a dozen labels, including his own. Thomas is best known for his non-interventionalist approach to winemaking. He believes that the best wine expresses the land that brought it to life. He’s not afraid to let the vines suffer a little during the growing season, in order to produce a more distinctive and flavorful fruit.
Over the years, Thomas has scored multiple 100-point nods from The Wine Advocate and The Wine Spectator. Food & Wine Magazine named Thomas "Winemaker of the Year" in 2010. If you ask him how he defines great wine, Thomas will say, "I can’t really define it, but I know it when I taste it."
Tucker & Lovey
Frank and Cheryl have always had a soft spot for four-legged best friends. And over the years, they’ve pledged their support for charities like Guide Dogs for the Blind. So when these two sweet puppies didn’t make the cut to be professional guides, the Birnies jumped at the chance to give them a new home here at Travail. Tucker and Lovey use their highly overqualified skills to play in the vineyard and nap in the sun.