One of Napa Valley’s most generous women, Vera Trinchero Torres, died July 22. She was 76.
A vigil service for Torres, a woman who has made a tremendous difference to a large group of local nonprofits, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, at the St. Helena Catholic Church. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 8, also at the St. Helena Catholic Church.
With her two brothers, Bob and Roger Trinchero, Torres ran the family business, Sutter Home Winery (bought by their parents in 1948), and turned it into Trinchero Family Estates, one of the largest family-owned and operated wineries in the United States. TFE is composed of more than 40 wines and spirits brands, with nearly 10,000 acres of grapes in production throughout California.
Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the Napa Valley Vintners, said, “We are so sad to hear this news. Vera had incredible spirit and a big heart. She genuinely cared for people from all walks of life and made tremendous contributions to help all in our community. Her generosity and kindness will be missed.”
Torres was born in New York City to Mario and Mary Trinchero. In 1948, when she was 10, the family purchased the Sutter Home Winery and moved to St. Helena. After graduating from St. Helena High School, she began a career as a legal secretary. Later she joined the family business and held key roles at Sutter Home Winery, including company secretary and overseeing the company’s charitable activities, while raising her two sons, Anthony “Tony” Torres and Robert “Bob” Torres with her husband, Ray Torres.
Bob Torres said, “Our mother’s generosity to the community was legendary, as a supporter of many causes benefiting people young and old. She will be remembered for her philanthropy and for the way she lived life to the fullest – working, bringing up a family, and even dancing at winery and charitable events with her lifelong best friend, Mary (Torres) Scheel.”
Susan Taylor Wren, board president of St. Helena’s We Care Animal Rescue, called Torres “one of our most devoted, stalwart supporters.”
She added, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of one of our community’s most generously kind patrons. Vera’s compassionate contributions enormously benefited so many causes that were close to her gracious heart. For many, many years all of us here at We Care Animal Rescue have felt genuinely blessed to have been one of those fortunate causes. We will remain forever grateful for her abundant magnanimity.”
Trent Yaconelli, associate executive director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga, said, “Vera was one of the shining stars for the nonprofit. She would sweep in and we would get money when we needed it. But she did it so quietly, there was no brass band, no media, no public recognition. She did it because she loved children.”
Yaconelli, who has spent 17 years with the organization, said they were “blessed to know Vera,” adding that she was “the real deal.” And even after her death last week, Yaconelli said, “She’s still doing it, still contributing as we have received donations from across the country.”
As a breast cancer survivor, Torres helped raise more than $1 million toward the fight against breast cancer through the Sutter Home Capsules for Hope program, which started in 2001. In recognition of her philanthropic efforts and service to the community, Vera was named Woman of the Year for the 2nd District of the California state Senate in 1996, and St. Helena Citizen of the Year in 1999.
St. Helenan Pam Smithers was one of those responsible for building the skate park at Crane Park. In June 2009, 250 people, including Torres and her son Bob, attended an event that raised $150,000 to help build the skate park. Later, Torres made a donation to pay for lights for the St. Helena skate park.
Smithers said she first noticed Torres and her brothers at an event when they were honored for their generosity to the St. Helena public schools. “I remember she gave a speech about trying to figure out how to take it with her. She said she hadn’t been able to figure out how to do that, so she thought she might as well be generous while she was here.”
Other causes that she supported included contributing to the Development Fund for the St. Helena Community Garden; the “Sustaining Our Future Fund” for the Parents Child Advocacy Network; a donation to the Boys & Girls Club’s “Power Hour” program, which was designed to help improve students’ homework habits and a donation to Clinica Verde in August 2009, to help build a sustainable health clinic in Boaca, Nicaragua. Torres was one of a group of local donors who stepped up to save the swim program run by the Silverado-Napa chapter of the American Red Cross. She also donated to the St. Helena Community Pool for 10 years and was a major supporter of the St. Helena Rotary Club and its Winter Ball.
Torres is survived by her sons Tony Torres and Bob Torres, her brothers Bob and Roger Trinchero, and her four grandchildren, Laina, Michael, Mathew and Julia. In lieu of flowers, the Trinchero family requests charitable donations be made to We Care Animal Rescue, St. Helena Little League and the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga.