We are in the midst of the earliest harvest in our history, and it’s not just grapes--this is the first time I can remember having heirloom tomatoes in Arroyo Grande in July. I looked back through my records and our previous early grape harvest occurred in 1997 when we started on August 5. This year, we started August 1, almost exactly a month before we started last year.
What explains the early harvest? The obvious answer is the weather, starting with unseasonably warm weather in January, which caused early budbreak. A persistent high pressure weather system resulted in warm temperatures and dry conditions through the winter, spring and into the early summer. Consequently, every step of our growing season occurred earlier than normal. The weather turned foggy and much cooler in July, though by then the die was cast for an early harvest.
To date, we’ve harvested 18 tons of pinot noir and 12 tons of chardonnay from the West Rincon, Rosemary’s and Monte Sereno Vineyards. We are seeing excellent ripeness at lower sugars, and lower acidity than normal. We attribute this to the warmer nights we’ve been experiencing lately, which tends to cause the respiration of malic acid. Yields are very close to our projections and the crop is slightly smaller than 2013.
Our early harvest didn’t prevent us from hosting the fourth annual Picnic in the Vineyard luncheon last Saturday. This popular event is open to members of our wine clubs and features tables under tents set up right in the middle of the East Rincon Vineyard. This year’s lunch was dedicated to the memory of Travis Monk, our Vineyard Manager who passed away this spring. It was a beautiful day in the vineyard, made more meaningful when we reflected Travis’s hard work, commitment and dedication to his job. As we bring in the harvest of 2014, we are truly finishing what Travis started.
One of my favorite days of the year is just around the corner. Sunday, June 1 will mark the 21st Annual Marianne Talley Fun Run which serves as a key fundraiser for the Marianne Talley Foundation as well as a celebration of my sister’s life. Marianne was born a little more than a year after me and was an avid athlete all of her life, a high school league champion in swimming and a finisher of the famed Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. She passed away suddenly in 1993 after a brief workout with one of her personal training clients. We established the Marianne Talley Foundation to support college bound students from Arroyo Grande High School and have now granted more than $200,000 in scholarships since that time. We established the Fun Run in 1994 to financially support the scholarship program, but also to bring together many of my sister’s friends in the running and fitness community for a day of celebration.
Since the beginning, the event has been special day for our family, but now it’s bigger and better than ever. The most popular feature is the 5K, both because it’s a distance that many people feel comfortable running or walking and because everyone who beats me gets a special t-shirt that says “I Beat the Vintner.” This will be the third year we’ve had a 10K, a popular fun run distance. We also have a 1 mile walk and a 1 mile youth run for those 13 and under. After the run, we have an awards ceremony, a great raffle and this year we’ve added a bonus raffle with $10 tickets and a chance to win some special prizes including a complete dinner for 8 at Ventana Grill.
I hope you can join us on Sunday, June 1. For all the details, including registration information, go to the Fun Run page of our website. For questions, email Race Director Marian Fiorentino, firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see you race day! BT
April is just around the corner and here at Talley Vineyards that means a few things; the release of our Single Vineyard Chardonnays and the kick-off to what is a seemingly endless list of parties throughout the year. Being the Event Coordinator means much of what I spend my time doing is booking all the music and food for those parties, which works out really well as they are two of my favorite subjects. As a former music blogger, an avid member of some online music clubs and a record collector, I truly am the right woman for this job. Since my move here in November of 2012 and working here at Talley Vineyards, I’ve gotten to know the music community of Central California Coast pretty well and I’m always on the lookout for new acts that might fit the various levels of events we have at our winery. That also means on my off hours I’m always checking out bands and live music whenever I get the chance. Lucky for me it’s one of my favorite past-times.
This year at our summer music series, Tunes at Talley, we have an exciting and well-rounded musical roster of everything from Monte Mills and His Lucky Horseshoe Band to Prōxima Parada to Soul Sauce. We also have a wine club member party featuring Valerie Johnson and The King Bees, a seven-piece Dixieland jazz band. Classic rock singer songwriters Liv & Rob are playing our TFP Pick-up Party and the Gypsy Jazz Trio will be playing our Chardonnay Release Day. Also this spring we look forward to having both the SLO Winds Chamber Ensemble here and our annual Jazz in The Vines event where the Arroyo Grande High School Jazz Band will play in our courtyard while selling snacks to benefit their music program. Please check our Events page for dates and specifics.
As far as the upcoming food related portion of this spring goes, I’ve recently had the pleasure of figuring out a mouthwatering New Orleans-inspired menu for our Estate Subscriber Party this spring with Phil Lang from Bon Temps Creole Café in San Luis Obispo. I’ve also scheduled all of the delicious Food Trucks we have on scene at each Tunes at Talley event and this year we’re bringing back our favorites Salt & Pepper, Gusto on The Go and Haute Skillet. Between all of that foodie excitement, as well as co-hosting the next food and wine Sensory Pairing event we have coming up on the 19th of April, my job is jam-packed with thoughts of delicious eats. That and the exciting reality that springtime is almost here and with it all the parties, music and food that goes along with our world-class wines.
For the Talley Family, Christmas of 2013 was special in so many ways. It should come as no surprise that it revolved around food and family. We kicked things off with our traditional Christmas Eve celebration and a meal featuring tamales and Christmas lima beans from our Fresh Harvest box. Our dinner table featured a handmade candle holder that cellarworker Patrick Sigler created out of a barrel stave and gave to me as part of our Secret Santa gift exchange. We enjoyed some nice wines, including a magnum of 2003 Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay and some 2012 Blanc de Noir Sparkling wine that we made from Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Christmas breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the year and we celebrated with homemade cinnamon rolls, omelets and ham. Our family exchanged gifts, including more handmade gifts than ever before--knitted hats, scarves and a Christmas stocking from Olivia. Elizabeth created craft cork items, a beautiful photo book of our summer vacation and a custom puzzle featuring our family in the Swiss Alps. After our big breakfast, Olivia and I took a walk and enjoyed the unseasonably warm Christmas weather. At 83 degrees, it was the second warmest day on record in San Luis Obispo. The celebration continued Christmas night with a special dinner at my mom’s house featuring grilled filet of beef, (perfect with Rincon and Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir magnums) an assortment of vegetables from our Fresh Harvest box and my mother’s wonderful cheesecake.
Johnine and I are thankful to enjoy the bounty of our land, to work with so many passionate and dedicated people, and to live close to our families so that we can savor these special experiences. Best wishes to you and your family this season and for all of 2014!
Well it's official, winter is here. Unfortunately winter has not yet brought us any rain, but it's sure been cold. I'm sure many of you have seen on the local news the threats that frost brings to farmers here on the Central Coast. A few people have been asking me what the cold weather means for us at Talley Vineyards. Luckily on the vineyard side of things, the cold winter frosts do not do us much harm. Most of the vines have shut down for the year and are going into dormancy. The leaves have mostly dried up and blown off with the strong winter winds we've been having. Colder temperatures will help to keep these vines dormant until mid to late February. So what the heck do we do the rest of the year? Well, there's still quite a bit going on.
Our vineyard crews are busy getting ready for next year. There's quite a bit of maintenance work fixing broken end posts, tightening trellis wire and dropping the training wires back down to get them out of the way for next year's growth. The crew has also been busy helping the winery with their winter bottling. The tractor drivers have completed the cover crop planting and will begin to focus on some winter weed control. With the lack of rain, our irrigator has stayed busy getting water to the vines and I've been busy on the computer working on budgets and coming up with next year's pruning plans. We will most likely begin some pre-pruning at the end of the month.
So what else is going on at Talley Vineyards? Well today is one of my favorite days of the year to work here at Talley. Today is the Talley Farms Annual Ranch Barbecue. All the employees from Talley Vineyards and Talley Farms, along with many of our local growers and vendors, will congregate at the packing shed tomorrow around lunch time for a Santa Maria style feast. The tostadas are the biggest hit! It's my favorite event of the year, because it is the one time of the year that nearly all 200+ employees can come together and celebrate the year. It is a great time to let us show thanks to all of our employees for the hard work that makes our business possible. One of the big events of the day is the long term employees photo. Each year the Talley's take an updated group photo with all the employees that have been with the company 20 years or longer. It's amazing how large this group has become and really shows what a great place this is to work. I'm only bringing about 6 years with Talley to the table, so I still have a ways to go before I'm photo worthy, but it's amazing how quickly the seasons pass by. This season is winding down, but the next one is just right around the corner. I hope everyone can enjoy the end of the season and best wishes for a Happy Holiday.
Last Saturday we hosted our Picnic in the Vineyard, the third year we have offered this event for members of our wine clubs. This event has quickly become one of my favorites for a variety of reasons.
To be perfectly honest, one reason I truly love the Picnic in the Vineyard is I have almost no responsibility for its planning, preparation and implementation. Could anything be better than simply showing up for a delicious meal in a beautiful setting? Yes, it is even better when you show up and everyone thanks you assuming you helped make it happen! The truth is that Belinda Christensen really leads the charge on organizing the picnic and she is probably smart to keep me on the sidelines. It is a well known fact among Talley Vineyards employees that it will rain on any event I help organize. Truly. Maybe some of you remember the infamous Marianne Talley “Mud” Run of June 2011?
It has become tradition at the picnic for our Vineyard Manager Travis Monk and our Winemaker Eric Johnson to give a casual presentation and this has become another reason I love the event. After all my years working at Talley Vineyards I am sometimes surprised that I can still learn something new every day. It is great to sit back, listen to the experts share their knowledge and walk away with a deeper understanding of the vineyard and production processes. There were a lot of questions for Travis and Eric about the upcoming harvest and how soon it would be underway. Was it my imagination that some subtle signs of panic began to creep onto Travis’s and Eric’s faces as the discussion brought home the reality that harvest is right around the corner? Maybe it was, but it was still fun to imagine!
Of all there is to enjoy, the best part of the picnic is getting to know some of our wine club members in a fun and casual environment. I spend my days immersed in our wine club member database and if you give me a name I can probably tell you where that person lives, their favorite wine, how long they’ve been a wine club member. But it is rare that I am given the opportunity to meet the person behind the wine club membership. It is truly a pleasure to share good food, good wine and good company at the Picnic in the Vineyard.
Every year we hold an appreciation event for your Estate Subscriber Program wine club members. This year, Alyssa decided it would be fun to have a pizza maker and pasta. Out on the lawn in front of the winery building, on a perfect afternoon, our club members enjoyed pizzas, wonderful wines and a lovely pasta meal. Words cannot describe the "fun" but a few photos might.
|Estate Subscriber event in progress|
|The pizza maker||Pizzas fresh from the oven|
|Toss a cork, win a magnum of wine||Great library and current wines|
|A fun day at Talley Vineyards|
This weekend is WOPN! World of Pinot Noir is the must-attend event for any serious pinot noir enthusiast. This experience features hundreds of pinot noirs from all over the globe through seminars, walk-around tastings and dinner events. Renowned producers of this coveted varietal pour tastes of their current release wines at the grand tastings, while rare and old vintage wines are usually poured in special seminars and dinners. As an added bonus, the event is primarily held on the bluff in Shell Beach at both the Dolphin Bay and Cliffs Resorts, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. (Oh, and Brian Talley was one of the founders of this event!)
This year, Talley Vineyards will be the focus of one of the educational “breakout sessions”. This sold-out seminar will feature Rosemary’s and Rincon Vineyard wines from 2007-2010. It is my opinion that these wines are some of the best we’ve ever made, and now is a wonderful time to taste them side by side. Many pinot noirs have a relatively short shelf life, but the Talley wines are known for their exceptional ageability. Our pinot noirs show incredible structure and depth and can begin peaking more than 4-5 years after bottling. Brian Talley and Eric Johnson will be hosting this special event and discussing what is unique about each vintage and what contributes to the beauty of these wines today.
If you want to taste as many pinot noirs as possible, I recommend going to both the Friday and Saturday afternoon tastings. Each day features a different group of wineries. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, it’s not too late. You can still purchase them at http://www.worldofpinotnoir.com. This event provides the opportunity to enjoy the many variations of this wonderful varietal in a fun, educational and beautiful environment.
If you’ve visited the Talley Vineyards tasting room, you would know that we have a lot of faces behind the bar. It takes a lot of people to cover our staffing needs to be open seven days a week and it’s not very often that we can get them all in the same place at the same time. Earlier this month, however, we were able to get sixteen of us together for an awesome day of wine tasting in Paso Robles.
Entrusting our tasting room to ex-tasting room employees Michele (now our operations manager), Alyssa (now our direct sales manager), and Belinda (now our direct sales assistant), all sixteen of us were chauffeured to Paso Robles, in style, on the Central Coast Trolley. We hit some of the best on the far west side of Paso Robles – Justin, Tablas Creek, Halter Ranch, and Jack Creek.
Beyond tasting a broad variety of different wines, from the delicious cabernets and Bordeaux blends at Justin and Halter Ranch, to the Rhone varietals at Tablas Creek and Jack Creek, the day was a great opportunity for the staff to build camaraderie. Many of our staff members work a few days or less a month, some only on the weekends, and some only during the weekdays. The ability to have our entire team together, learning about wine and witnessing how other wineries operate and being able to socialize and catch up with one another was priceless. It was also a great success in that staff members have given us valuable feedback on the experience, including many ideas that could really strengthen us as we move forward.
For me, the one universal theme that I noticed is that what impressed our group wasn’t so much about the actual winery, but more about how the staff presented them. A visit to the new tasting room at Tablas Creek, the vineyards and caves at Justin, and the new winery facility at Halter Ranch are enough to make anyone in the wine industry very jealous. Following those up with a stop at Jack Creek, an equally remarkable facility at a sliver of the size of the other three, allowed us to see that it’s not all about size of the building. With great hospitality at all four locations, and knowing what a beautiful place and great people we have here at Talley, the key thing I learned is that a successful winery isn’t all about the facility, it is about a group of people with enough passion to produce a great product anywhere.
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!