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.
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!
I am usually the one behind our blog posts each week, reminding fellow employees it's time to post, finding photos to add to their words, making suggestions on topics, and getting it up on the website. This week, with well earned vacations, I thought I would post the last blog of 2012.
As 2012 is almost over and we are about to ring in the New Year, it is time to reflect and at the same time look forward to what 2013 will bring. On Thursday, which was a sunny and very cool, breezy day, we were surprised by the site of this lovely, bright rainbow displayed across the vineyards and mountains here at Talley Vineyards. I take it to be a sign that 2013 is going to be a spectacular year!
Wishing you all a year of joy, prosperity and lots of rainbows! Happy New Year!
With a little over a week left before we celebrate the coming of 2013, I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! While it is not my style to get sentimental and reminisce about highlights of the year gone past, 2012 is a little bit different. In the most succinct terms possible, it really was a great year.
As it pertains to my life and what I’m passionate about, two amazing things happened this year. First, and most importantly, this is the year I married my amazing wife, Erin. On April 14th, the Talley family was gracious enough to allow us to host our small, intimate wedding ceremony in the barrel room. After six years of dating and now over six months of marrage, I am happy to be able to tell everyone that married life is great!
Secondly, 2012 was an awesome vintage for just about every region of California, especially here on the central coast. While I am proud to have been a part of Talley Vineyards for what has been a really excellent string of vintages (2007-2012), this year is special because it is the first year in a while with both high quality and above-average yields. Some of you may know that I dabble in wine production. This is the second year that the Talleys have allowed us to tend a section of vines in Edna Valley and make a small batch of wine. I, my wife, and co-workers, Mike and Ken, harvested twice the fruit as last year and so far we think the wine may be twice as good! Furthermore, now that some of the wines in the barrel room have had a few months of age, we are really starting to see that the Talley chardonnays and pinot noirs are going to be very special wines.
For a wine geek like myself, there is no better feeling than knowing that I can stock up on the 2012 vintage when they come out and be assured that the quality of the wine is going to reflect the way I feel about the year in which the fruit was grown. Since we have some time before those wines come out, I’m going to go back to my first vintage here at Talley and enjoy a bottle of 2007 Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir for Christmas. For the rest of you, I suggest that you pull out a great bottle and share some stories with loved ones about the special things that happened in your lives this year. Cheers!
Regular readers of this blog know that I pay special attention to the weather. In my line of work, the weather is critically important—rain, heat, frost, fog, and wind all profoundly affect our activities and ultimately the quality of our products.
Sometimes, especially this time of year, I can simply observe and enjoy the weather and associated phenomena. Lately, we’ve had a series of beautiful sunsets. One of my favorite things to do is sit outside with Johnine, watch the sunset over the Pacific and enjoy a glass of wine. Our daughter, Elizabeth, captured the moment especially artfully this past Sunday evening as we shared some chardonnay.
During the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, I hope you too can sit with those you love and appreciate what makes life so special. Best wishes for a joyous holiday season!
Last night we had our annual Talley staff Christmas party at Giuseppe’s Restaurant in Pismo Beach- and no, the night didn’t end with karaoke. As you can imagine, this is an exceptionally fun event where we have the amazing opportunity to taste a wide variety of rare, old vintages of Talley single vineyard wines. Even better, the wines are all from large format bottles which are not only festive, but are known to age better than small format bottles. The only difficult part is pacing oneself enough to fully appreciate what you’re tasting.
We kicked off the night with a 5 liter bottle of 2001 Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay- which in the words of our direct sales manager Alyssa Ball, “Smelled and tasted rich, nutty, and delicious like a perfectly aged chardonnay”. I totally agree with her, and I’ll add that it was a wonderful complement to the creamy stuffed mushroom appetizer they were serving. That bottle disappeared pretty quickly (there were a lot of us), so we moved on to another 5 liter bottle, the 2007 Rincon Chardonnay. The Rincon was surprisingly fresh and citrusy, showing very youthful. If you have this wine in your cellar, it is drinking well now, but it definitely has a lot of years left to age.
So, with dinner on the way, we needed to fill our seats and our glasses- this time with a few pinot noirs. It was a moment I was waiting for, the ceremonious opening of the 9 Liter bottle of 2001 Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir. We recently revisited this wine in our library tastings and I remember it scoring top rankings. The larger format bottle didn’t seem to differ from its 750 ml equivalent. It had very distinctive earthy characteristics, and the palate was silky and smooth.
Since I don’t have room to fill in the details about all the wines we shared, I would like to finish with the highlight of my evening, the 1999 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. This wine had bright and distinctive fruit with perfectly balanced acidity and a silky, tannin structure. This delicate yet robust pinot noir is still a star after roughly 12 years in bottle.
Once again, I was reminded of what a wonderful producer we work for. Even though those incredible wines were all made before my time at Talley Vineyards, it was very special to get to experience these vintages with the family that produced them.
Harvest is finally over. Well almost over. Theoretically harvest is over because there are no more early mornings and long work days but the lasting effects of harvest are still present.
|Looking inside a barrel with malolatic fermentation|
Here at Talley we have a certain affinity with native fermentation both primary and secondary. Primary fermentation is just about wrapped up and we are now beginning secondary fermentation called malolactic fermentation. Simply put, we allow the native lactic acid bacteria to convert the malic acid in the wine to lactic acid. I like to say that malic acid is the apple acid and lactic acid is the milk acid. Malic acid is more acidic and lactic acid is smoother and is less acidic. Because we do not inoculate, our wines, our secondary fermentations tends to take longer. We allow this to happen in the majority of our wines excluding out Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Bishops Peak Chardonnay. The majority of our Chardonnays go through a very slow secondary fermentation with most not finishing until late spring and in some years, early summer.
|Special fermentation bung allows gas to escape without letting air in.|
So why are we doing this? Well first off we want the malic acid converted to lactic acid for the mouth feel. Secondly, we let malolactic fermentation happen intentionally so it doesn’t happen unintentionally in the bottle when it gets to your house. If you have ever had an “active” fermentation occur in bottle, you know it is not a fun wine to drink. Stale beer comes to mind when I think of this.
I didn’t write this to teach everyone about secondary fermentation but to explain that once the harvest is over, it’s not really over.
Thanksgiving is upon us, which is a great time to consider those things that make life so special. These are some of the things that I am thankful for.
I’m thankful for my wonderful family, both those who are with me now as well as those who came before. I was so lucky to work with both my grandfather and my dad and to learn many of the valuable lessons about integrity and respect that I try to practice every day. I’m blessed to be married to my wonderful wife and to have two great daughters. Johnine and I appreciate living so close to our mothers and our extended families.
I’m thankful for the work that I do. I’m privileged to work with a great group of people who bring passion and commitment to work every day. I love to spend time with passionate people. I’m also proud to produce tangible things that people enjoy—whether it’s a special bottle of wine or the latest shipment of Talley Farms Fresh Harvest.
I’m thankful to live on the Central Coast. Not only is this one of those special places on Earth capable of producing world class chardonnay and pinot noir, it also has beautiful weather year round and all kinds of fun stuff to do.
I hope this causes you to reflect on those things that are special in your life and that you are thankful for.
Best wishes for a joyous Thanksgiving!
Winter and the holidays have most definitely arrived here at Talley Vineyards. As I write this blog, the skies are grey, it has started to rain, and the vines continue to turn various shades of yellow and orange. This week, our talented staff put the finishing touches on a very festive display of holiday décor and gift items in our tasting room. That’s right; the reindeers are out, the unseasonably skinny barrel stave “Santa” is on the wall, and the large wreaths on the door have covered me in festive glitter more than a few times. It’s a very manly look! Yes, this is my favorite time of the year here in the tasting room – and coming soon is one of my favorite events!
On Friday, December 7th we will host our annual holiday open house here in our tasting room. From 4:30-7:00 pm, we have lots for our members and friends to do and see. To start, we will have special vendors displaying their products, including balsamic vinegars and olive oils by Robbie Robbins, art by Lorri Trogdon, recycled barrel art by Rerun Productions, and Arbonne products by our very own Marian Fiorentino. We will have great bites by our house chef Sarah Matthews and live music by local guitarist Casey McDonald. To cap it all off, what is more fun than getting a great deal on wine? Getting a great deal on wine out of a holiday stocking! Everyone that comes to our open house will receive a stocking with a surprise wine discount up to 50% off or a gift card to use on gifts and wine in our tasting room. It really is a fun night.
I look forward to seeing you all this holiday season!
Thanksgiving always gets me thinking about food, and thinking about food always gets me thinking about wine. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes…pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, there’s a lot of great choices on this annual day of total over-indulgence. Recently the whole staff at Talley Vineyards was asked what wines they’ll be bringing to Thanksgiving dinner. I have my own ideas, but this really got me thinking, what IS the best wine for this unique dinner? —What do the sommeliers recommend?
I met with Todd Brown, Sommelier at Lido, Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach and he had a lot to say about this topic. Todd points out, “The problem is that we don’t serve Thanksgiving Day dinner in courses where we can pair each dish with a different wine. With all the dishes and condiments on the table we pass the plate and load up on a little bit of everything all at once.” So with that in mind, I asked him what the best solution would be- and I really liked what he had to say.
He recommends a ½ glass of Rosemary’s Pinot Noir AND a ½ glass of Rosemary’s Chardonnay. (I’ll take a full glass of each, thank you.)
Todd explained that the Talley wines are a great choice because of their balance, particularly their higher acid, lower alcohol and mild tannins that enhance the flavors of food so well. He says “The higher acidity in the wine lets it pair with heavier, starchier foods like potatoes and turkey with dressing. The lower alcohol doesn’t over-exert itself and mask the flavors of the food.” Todd explains that there’s a necessity for both wines because chardonnay and pinot noir go great with turkey. The oaky, yet crisp elements of chardonnay are great with starches while pinot noir’s earthiness is a best bet for complementing vegetable sides like brussel sprouts and green beans as well as the fruitiness of cranberry sauce.
So take this for what it’s worth, but most importantly don’t limit yourself. I would like to thank Todd for his insights, but mostly for his permission to open 2 bottles of Rosemary’s Vineyard wines.