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Winegrower's Blog

Anna Heacock, 2007-2013
January 25, 2013 | Anna Heacock, 2007-2013

Mano Tinta Artist Label Competition

It is my pleasure to announce that this March, Talley Vineyards will be hosting the sixth annual Mano Tinta revolving artist label competition.  For those of you unfamiliar, Mano Tinta is a charity wine produced through a community effort wherein all the grapes, packaging and labor to make the wine is donated and the artwork for the label is created by the local community through this competition.  The vibrant and creative labels from the past few vintages of the Mano Tinta wine have featured a variety of colorful images, all symbolic of the vineyard worker and their craft. 

This competition is open to the general public and will be on display for public viewing and voting in the Talley Vineyards tasting room throughout the month of March.  We encourage local artists of all ages and levels of experience to submit their artwork to the Talley Vineyards tasting room anytime through the end of March.  Submissions must be accompanied by a completed entry form and should be original and meaningful.  The winner will be announced within the first week of April and will have their artwork showcased on the 2010 Mano Tinta label, website, t-shirts and posters.  Entry forms and specific guidelines can be found listed below or by contacting

Mano Tinta Label Competition Guidelines and Form

The profits raised from the sales of this wine are donated to the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers; an endowment created by Brian and Johnine Talley that benefits organizations utilized by the vineyard and farm workers of all San Luis Obispo County.   For additional information about the competition or The Fund For Vineyard and Farm Workers, please call (805) 489-0446 or visit us at

Time Posted: Jan 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM
Andy McDaniel, 2007-2013
January 18, 2013 | Andy McDaniel, 2007-2013

What is Malbec and Why Does Everyone Love It?

When I think about Talley Vineyards, the grapes that come to mind are of course, pinot noir and chardonnay. When I think about the tasting room, however, I think about a diversity of palates. It is precisely for these palates that we continually produce unique wines. Some of these wines only get produced in one great vintage, such as the West Rincon Pinot Noir or the Ranchita Canyon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Others we continue to produce annually, like our petite sirah. In the most recent vintages, however, we have most definitely taken a liking to the lovely malbec.

In the wine-drinking world, passion for malbec is a recent trend. Malbec originates from France and is one of the five permitted varietals of Bordeaux, though it is certainly not the star there and considered a minor blending component. Most of us, however, think of Argentina when we think of Malbec – probably because you can still get a nice bottle for a relatively inexpensive price. Malbec was brought into Argentina in the mid 1800’s, but it was not until the 1990’s that the wine producers of Argentina decided that it would be their key varietal.  Malbec, according to our winemaker Eric Johnson, is “an awesome grape because it varies heavily based on where it is grown – it can be tannic, soft, fruity, or spicy, or it can be all of that wrapped up into one wine.” I think that the reason why many people love it here, however, is that it often tends towards ripe, juicy aromas and flavors (think ripe blueberry, blackberry, and plums), soft tannins, and moderate acidity. Assistant winemaker Nicole Pope really enjoys the varietal because “it has a distinct fruit profile from all of the other reds we work with, with awesome fresh berry aromas -  even during fermentation.”  While still not widely planted here on the Central Coast, Malbec is a perfect fit in Paso Robles. The fresh, ripe fruit develops during the warm, sunny days, and the cool evenings preserves the acidity that balances the wine.

Here in the tasting room, we now have two delicious wines that feature malbec. The first, our 2010 Bishop’s Peak Malbec, is our first 100% varietal malbec in over fifteen years! This wine is packed with fresh berry characteristics and has soft, elegant tannins resulting from over 20 months in the barrel. The second is our current wine on tap offering which is a 2011 blend of 60% malbec and 40% cabernet sauvignon. This wine, with less time in the barrel, really showcases the ripe fruit of the malbec and compliments it with the peppery spice of the cabernet sauvignon. Come try them side by side!

Maybe it turns out that you’ve read this entire blog and disagree with me because you actually don’t like malbec, and that’s ok! I urge you, however, to stop by the tasting room and give ours a try – after all, there are a lot of other wines here to enjoy as well!

Brian Talley, Vintner
January 11, 2013 | Brian Talley, Vintner

New Year, New People

It’s the New Year and we are focused on planning for our 65th year of farming in the Arroyo Grande Valley.  While most of the effort is directed toward things we’ve done many times before, things like pruning, planting schedules and budgets, there are some truly new happenings to announce, especially related to people.

On the vineyard side, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Travis Monk as our new Vineyard Manager.  Travis has worked with us since 2008 when he started in the Tasting Room.  Lucy Parkin was extremely impressed with his work ethic, great attitude and especially his BBQ skills.  After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in Agricultural Business Management in 2009, Travis joined former Vineyard Manager Kevin Wilkinson as Viticulturalist and was appointed Assistant Vineyard Manager at the end of 2011.  Travis worked closely with Kevin this past year to ensure a seamless transition to his new role.  He oversaw the planting of more than 20 acres of avocados and now turns his attention to the replanting of the Rincon Vineyard, which will start in 2015.  In his spare time, Travis enjoys hunting and golf.  I’ve enjoyed working with Travis and look forward to the new ideas and the commitment to quality that he brings to our vineyard operations.

We’ve added another full time cellar worker in the winery.  Patrick Sigler was one of three harvest interns who helped us during the 2012 harvest.  Pat’s main responsibility was grape sampling, but he proved to be dedicated, conscientious and hardworking in the cellar as well.  Pat just graduated from the Wine and Viticulture program at Cal Poly.  In addition to his studies, he enjoyed much success on the Cal Poly soccer team, scoring the game winning goal against arch rival UCSB in 2011.  Pat was raised in Sonoma County where he was exposed to the wine industry through friends and looks forward to becoming a winemaker someday.

Anna Heacock, 2007-2013
January 4, 2013 | Anna Heacock, 2007-2013

Restaurant Month in California

As a way to encourage dining out during an otherwise slow time of year, California celebrates January as “Restaurant Month”.  Each participating restaurant creates a generous fixed price menu offering 3 courses for $30. This is a fantastic opportunity to get in on some incredible culinary values, particularly in some restaurants where that’s less than the cost of just one entrée.

I can’t speak for what happens in other counties, but in San Luis Obispo there’s an added bonus of wineries partnering with these restaurants.  In most cases this means that for a small additional fee, the restaurants will offer either a flight of wines or individual glasses to complement each course.  For the most part, these added wine pairings are designed to be as great of a bargain as the meals so you have the chance to taste some incredible, and in some cases rare wines, all for a nominal price.

This brings me to the Talley Vineyards tie-in… I’m in marketing, can you blame me?  We are delighted to share that we are partnered with the fabulous Marisol Restaurant at The Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach. They are well known on the Central Coast for their exquisite food prepared by Chef Greg Wangard in a beautifully scenic location perched right on the cliffs of Shell Beach.  This month only, for $30 you can choose from a large selection of gourmet appetizers, entrées, and desserts for each course that pair perfectly with some delicious Talley Estate wines.  Check out this link to see their complete menu,  but I highly recommend the beef short ribs with our Talley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir, the best I’ve ever had!