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Winegrower's Blog

Travis Monk, Vineyard Manager
 

April Showers Bring...

So the saying goes "April showers bring May flowers", and that's typically what we see out here at Talley Vineyards. But we'll have to change the saying around a bit this year as we are already starting to see bloom in the vineyard. Overall it seems like the vines are about two weeks ahead of schedule compared to their normal growth pattern. Bud break was a bit early, but growth has been rapid over the past few weeks. We finally received a decent amount of rainfall, spread out over the past couple weeks, which was followed by some much warmer than normal temperatures. This weather pattern gave the vines all the energy they were needing, and they quickly began to grow.

 

With bloom kicking off in many of our pinot and chardonnay blocks, it won't be long until the vines begin to set this year's clusters. In a few more weeks we'll get our first real look at this year's vintage. Some of the local growers are making jokes about a July harvest, and although things seem to be ahead of schedule, there's still a lot of growing season left. Our hope here at Talley Vineyards is that we get some warm spring weather over the next few weeks. Warmer temperatures seem to help speed up the bloom process and ensure a good crop for this year.              

In the vineyard, we're still busy shoot thinning. The women's crew is wrapping up the shoot thinning while the men's crew has begun lifting wire and organizing the canopy. Tractor drivers are busy spraying and cultivating the mid rows. We've also been busy ripping out some blocks that we've decided to replant and have begun planning and designing the layouts for some new blocks we will plant next year. It's a busy time of year out here, but things are looking great. 

 
Christina Bailey, Marketing & Sales
 

Our Solar Project in the Rincon Vineyard

If you've visited Talley Vineyards then you are sure to know that it is almost always beautifully sunny around the winery and tasting room. We are about 7 miles inland from the coast and regularly experience the luxury of a coastal breeze with warm, sun filled days. We have recently decided to put our excess rays to work and make the most of our sunshine with the help of San Luis Obispo County's solar experts, SolarPonics. This local company has been serving the Central Coast since 1975 specializing in wineries as well as serving residential and commercial properties. The installation of the solar panels has been an ongoing process that officially began in March of this year. Through planning and discussion, we've decided to mount the panels on the roof of our winery and barrel room as well as along a hillside in the East Rincon Vineyard. This project is estimated to offset 80% of our power usage!

We are excited to share the progress of our solar installation with you. Projects like this make me proud to be working for a company that maintains a constant concern for their effect on the environmental. Although the banging on the roof may have not been my favorite part of this project, I am looking forward to seeing all the panels in place and knowing Talley Vineyards will be energy efficient for years to come. 

 

The start of the Rincon hillside preparation. Rincon Vineyard hillside prepartion continued.
Just finishing up the last panels on the Rincon Vineyard hillside. Pat taking a look up-close of the solar panels.
The solar panels on the roof of the winery. Solar panels on top of the barrel room.

 

 

Brian Talley, Vintner
 
March 28, 2014 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Eric, Travis and Brian’s Excellent Adventure


 

Eric listens to Paul Draper of
Ridge Vineyards

Last week I took Winemaker Eric Johnson and Vineyard Manager Travis Monk on a field trip to visit some of my favorite wineries in California.  I find it inspiring to visit people who are as passionate and committed as we are here at Talley Vineyards.  We started on Monday with a visit to Ridge Vineyards, the legendary producer of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon located high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking the Silicon Valley.  Paul Draper, one of the icons of California wine, shared with us the amazing history of Monte Bello, the estate vineyard that produces one of California’s most highly regarded Cabernets.  Before we knew it, three hours had passed and we were scrambling to make it to San Francisco in time for dinner at Restaurant Gary Danko.

Tuesday was all about pinot noir and chardonnay.  Longtime Williams Selyem Winemaker Bob Cabral shared his insights on the evolution of his iconic pinot noir over the last 17 years.  We finished with a tour of the estate vineyard which features a field blend of various pinot noir clones before joining our friends David Fischer and Cameron Frey for lunch and a comprehensive tasting of Ramey wines.  Much like Talley Vineyards, they focus on flavor development and balance in their elegantly crafted chardonnays.


 

Eric and Travis at Williams Selyem.

The Sonoma County chardonnay and pinot noir theme continued on Wednesday.  We took an extensive tour of the Littorai property just outside Sebastopol with much focus on Ted Lemon’s biodynamic farm and a tasting of some of the most elegant chardonnay and pinot noir produced in California.  After that, we joined Geoff Labitzke for a tasting at Kistler Vineyards, which many consider to be the benchmark for Sonoma County chardonnay.

Thursday’s visits were focused in the Napa Valley.  Failla is a winery owned by Winemaker Ehren Jordan that is located south of Calistoga on the Silverado Trail though the majority of this wines come from grapes grown on the Sonoma Coast.  We were impressed with Ehren’s outside the box thinking with respect to winegrowing and the impeccable balance of his wines.  Our final visit of the trip was to Tim Mondavi’s Continuum Estate on Pritchard Hill in the Napa Valley.  It was great to tour this amazing site, though it was even better to talk to Tim Mondavi, taste the current release of Continuum and learn how his long tenure as the Winemaker at Robert Mondavi informs his approach now.  It was an inspiring and thought provoking week and I can’t wait to do it again!

Kelly Soares, Tasting Room Ast. Manager
 

Events - Let the fun begin

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. 

Alyssa Ball, Direct Sales Manager
 

Learning About SLO Wine Country

Most wine producing regions have a member association committed to growing awareness of the local wines and wineries and promoting the area’s unique qualities.  The member association responsible for that task for the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys is SLO Wine Country.  Among other things, SLO Wine Country coordinates annual events such as Roll Out the Barrels and Harvest Celebration, works with media to spread the word on the region’s great wines and organizes regular association mixers that help build a spirit of camaraderie and (my favorite part) give wineries a chance to try one another’s wines. 

SLO Wine Country also provides their association members with occasional opportunities for education.  One such opportunity occurred this past week with a seminar featuring panels of speakers sharing their expert knowledge on different aspects of our growing region.  The first panel of speakers covered four important and interesting topics – the history of the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys, climate, soils and sustainability.  I am always fascinated by historical information and refuse to be embarrassed by how often I frequent local history museums, centers and societies.  So I happily soaked in all the tidbits the panel shared about how the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys turned into wine producing regions.  I also learned that I had some substantial gaps in my understanding of climate, including not realizing there are meso-climates in addition to micro and macro-climates.  How had I made it this far without knowing that? 

Much as we all enjoyed and learned from the first panel of speakers, the start of the second panel created a buzz of excitement.  Because the second panel had brought wine!  What a treat to taste a flight of wines made up of Claiborne & Churchill Riesling, Edna Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Chamisal Chardonnay, Stephen Ross Pinot Noir and Wolff Vineyards Syrah.  But this tasting wasn’t just for fun, there was a lot to learn during this segment of the seminar as well.  Our second panel of speakers were the winemakers who had made each of the wonderful wines we were tasting and they had interesting information to share.  As we tasted through the wines, each of the winemakers explained how their wines are a result of both the unifying conditions of our region and the unique characteristics of their specific vineyard.  It was a fascinating (and delicious) exercise and more than anything I came away realizing the terrific quality of wine coming out of SLO Wine Country.

Eric Johnson, Winemaker
 
March 7, 2014 | Eric Johnson, Winemaker

The World of Pinot Noir

This past week we celebrated the 14th year of the World of Pinot Noir at the Bacara Resort in Goleta, just north of Santa Barbara. Bacara is a new venue for WOPN and luckily for us it was entirely indoors during the multiple storms that were pummeling the Central Coast. For those of you who haven't attended, WOPN is a Central Coast event centered around Pinot Noir from around the world with daily seminars and tastings. Year in and year out, many of the top winemakers and Sommeliers participate at WOPN because of the caliber of consumers who attend.

Not to minimize other great events, but WOPN is my favorite of the year. For a Pinot Noir winemaker like myself, this event is especially beneficial. My week started by joining 60 other winemakers for a two day in depth tasting of 2013 Pinot Noirs called the Technical Symposium. The Technical Symposium is a winemaker only event. Since no consumers are present, I feel like this allows winemakers to be straight forward and to the point about what's going on at their winery. And honestly, I don’t think consumers would want to taste these 2013 wines since they are still babies in the grand scheme of things. During this time of year Pinot Noir can be in an awkward stage, but with so many winemakers tasting and sharing notes it still possible to figure out the quality of the wine and identify possible faults.  What's great about the Tech Symposium is that everybody who participates is trying to help each other out. Though we all are competitors in some sense, we don’t act that way. There are winemakers lined up to offer suggestions for improvement when another winemaker has a problem in their vineyard or with a certain wine.

During WOPN, education doesn’t happen at  just the Tech Symposium. Every year WOPN has  educational seminars featuring some of the most well known people in Pinot Noir. I was able to listen in on some of the seminars this year and the panelists and discussions were fantastic. One of my favorite topics discussed was the soil types in the different appellations in Oregon.   Who knew the extreme difference in soil types that the state has to offer?  I also really enjoyed the Maison Louis Jadot tasting seminar with winemaker Frederic Barnier.  It's not every day you get to try Jadot from 1985!

The grand tastings on Friday and Saturday were full of amazing wines, as always. I poured for Talley Vineyards during the Friday tasting, but was able to sneak out and taste a couple of gems. I have to say that Friday’s consumers were some of the most educated tasters I've poured for and I enjoyed talking to them. Saturday’s tasting had some of the heavy hitters in the Pinot Noir world. Kosta Browne, Williams Selyem and Patz & Hall were all pouring their wines, just to name a few. There were rock star winemakers and winery owners everywhere and it was definitely a great event for people watching. 

After a week of Pinot tasting I definitely needed Sunday to take a break from my favorite grape. But as a new week begins I am already dreaming about next year's World of Pinot Noir. I recommend everyone make the trip to Bacara Resort next year for the 15th Annual World of Pinot Noir. You won't regret it.  

Travis Monk, Vineyard Manager
 
February 28, 2014 | Travis Monk, Vineyard Manager

Bring on the Rain

Monte Sereno Vineyard after the first rains.

Batten down the hatches! Winter has finally decided to show up here in Arroyo Grande. Weather experts are calling it a major storm, and if their forecasts are correct, we should be getting pounded by some heavy rain this afternoon. The first storm arrived Wednesday afternoon and brought us about half an inch of rain. The second storm followed bringing us about an inch of rain over night with some heavy winds. This morning has been pretty calm, but the next phase of the storm looks to be building strength out over the ocean and should be arriving on land in the next couple of hours.


 
Rincon Vineyard in the midst of a downpour on Friday morning.

In the vineyard we are just about to wrap up pruning for the year. We' have a little over an acre left to prune of sauvignon blanc in our Oliver's vineyard and should be able to finish this early next week as soon as the fields dry out. A lot of people have been asking me if the heavy rain will hurt us at all in the vineyard, but the truth is we need the water, and we welcome as much rain as we can get. Ideally we get a steady supply of rain during December and January when the vines are still dormant, but unfortunately this year it was pretty dry. Heavy rains now will hold us up a bit, and certainly make this last little bit of pruning a little slower, but we should be able to wrap up the pruning by next week.

Christina Bailey, Marketing & Sales
 

My First Sales Trip

This month marked my first sales trip as the new Sales & Marketing Assistant here at Talley Vineyards.  Being that this was my first trip, I traveled with Talley Vineyards' National Sales Manager, David Block. On this trip we were headed to Scottsdale, Arizona to work in the market for a few days. For a winery, working in the market entails traveling to different wine shops, restaurants and wine bars with our sales representative from that market to hopefully get Talley Vineyards present in their region. To be honest, I was a little daunted by the idea of going on a sales trip to Arizona, for one main reason. When I worked in the tasting room, guests would come visit from their homes in Arizona and tell me their stories of 100 degree weather and how for them, it's not really hot until its about 105 degrees. 105 degrees! Having grown up on the central coast, I have a very sheltered idea of warm weather. Deciding on our dates for the trip made my mind fill with ease, knowing we will be going to Arizona in February, not in the middle of the summer heat.

We spent 2 days working in the Scottsdale market and I feel like I got to experience the very best of the city.  On our first night, David took me down a back alley to a wooden door with a sign reading "The Truth is Inside" that opened up to what I would have to assume one would call a speakeasy. Kazimierz Wine Bar has an extensive wine list featuring over 3,200 wines with the ambiance to make you feel like it's the 1920's and you shouldn't be there.  The next day we got to meet up with some amazing businesses that are revitalizing Scottsdale with their creativity, ingenuity and brilliant taste in wine and food. Getting to experience the city from a insider's perspective and meeting these wonderful people along the way gives traveling a whole new light. Not to mention the amazing food I was lucky enough to enjoy! From dishes I never thought I'd try to George at George and Sons offering us hallucinogenic peppercorns, to say I won't forget this trip is an understatement. 

Kelly Soares, Tasting Room Ast. Manager
 

Mano Tinta in the Tasting Room

It’s my second January and here at Talley and that means one thing. Well, two things. The Talley Family Program winter wine shipment comes out and with that comes the annual release of Mano Tinta (“Red Hand” in Spanish). Established in 2004 by Brian and Johnine Talley, this wine is the key fundraising effort for the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers to provide grants to organizations that assist San Luis Obispo County agricultural workers and their families. All of the grapes, materials and services used to make the Mano Tinta wines are donated by local growers and vintners and the Mano Tinta project is always looking to find new members of the wine community to get involved. To date nearly $300,000 has been raised for the fund with a goal of $1 million so this support can continue in perpetuity.  

As a Tasting Room employee, all the fun of the Mano Tinta project begins with the Artist Label Contest held for each vintage. Setting up all the beautiful entries in our tasting room and watching our customers come in and vote for their favorite painting or art piece leads to many interesting discussions about the vineyard workers and the amazing work they do. The excitement continues when we find out which artist’s entry has won and then finally some months later we get to see the painting transformed into a label on the bottle. We also love to see the stunningly etched double magnum that is created for each winning label. My desk sits below the wall of the past Mano Tinta winners and their beauty and meaning continues to be a main focus of curiosity with all of our Talley customers both new and old. Speaking of which, you can come in to the tasting room and see the festive display of our current 2010 Mano Tinta label by Ethel “Tink” Landers and be sure to taste some while you’re here!  

 
Brian Talley, Vintner
 
February 7, 2014 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Big In Japan

Johnine and the girls at the main temple building, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto Japan. 

I’m writing this post in the midst of my second ever visit to Japan.  This has been a great trip, made even more special because Johnine and our daughters, Elizabeth and Olivia, were able to join me.  Elizabeth did much pre arrival research and planning and our itinerary has been filled with visits to temples and shrines in Tokyo and Kyoto and a planned visit to Hiroshima.  Having said that, my major focus has been business and I’m proud of the fact that we will likely sell more wine in Japan than all but our largest markets in the US this year.  We have the enthusiastic support of an importer called Jalux who has made a serious commitment to Talley Vineyards.

Food and wine are serious business in Japan and there are more Michelin starred restaurants in this country than in France.  The great wines of the world are prominently featured in wine shops, wine bars and on restaurant wine lists.  A trade tasting and seminar featuring chardonnay and pinot noir from Talley Vineyards, Au Bon Climat and DuMol had amazing attendance and a super engaged audience. Sommeliers and retailers here take their craft seriously, pay special attention during tastings and ask great questions, though the translation slows things down a bit.


 

Kozo and Diana Hasegawa with us at their restaurant, Tableaux.

Wines like ours that are made in a balanced and elegant style are celebrated here because they complement Japanese cuisine, renowned for its refinement and subtlety.  Culinary highlights included Johnine’s birthday dinner at Kurasawa where the chef prepared a tempura tasting menu in a private room for our family as well as a ten course Kaseiki (traditional Japanese tasting menu) dinner at a Michelin 2 star restaurant in Kyoto called Roan Kikuni. I also reconnected with the first person to import our wines into Japan, Kozo Hasegawa, when he hosted a special wine dinner featuring Talley Vineyards and three other wineries, at his famed Tokyo restaurant Tableaux. 

It’s rewarding to see our business grow in a place that cherishes food and wine.  I can’t wait to come back!