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Talley Vineyards

Winegrower's Blog

Lindsey Bateman, Sales & Marketing Asst

Sneak Peek #3!

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought it only appropriate to share the delectable Raspberry Pie recipe from Brian Talley’s new cookbook, Our California Table.  This sweet treat is sure to please.  Try it out for yourself and you’ll quickly see why this has been a long-time tradition in the Talley Family.   

Plus, look how festive it looks!  You’ll be sure to earn some extra V-Day bonus points. Cheers!

Raspberry Pie 

My family loves pies. While this tradition started with my grandmother, it was reinforced when my dad baked my mom a pie at his apartment in Berkeley on their first date. Over the years, we each did our part to continue to improve our craft. My father gathered cuttings of his favorite raspberry selection from a farmer in Arroyo Grande and planted them next to his prized Gravenstein apples, adjacent to Rosemary’s Vineyard. My mom perfected her crust, which she got from Cook’s Illustrated magazine. The unique thing about this crust is that vodka is used in place of half the water in the recipe. The vodka evaporates as the pie bakes, which reduces the moisture content and results in a super flaky crust. Finally, my daughter Elizabeth continued the family tradition by incorporating a lattice top crust.

Serves 6 

Prep time: 2 hours 

Pie Crust 

  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices 
  • ½ cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces 
  • ¼ cup vodka, cold  
  • ¼ cup cold water, plus more as needed  


  • 4 cups fresh raspberries 
  • ¾ cup sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons flour 

Prepare dough    Place 1½ cups flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse until combined, about 2 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds. Dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around the processor blade. 

Add remaining 1 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl. 

Sprinkle vodka and water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on the dough until it is tacky and sticks together. Add water sparingly, as more water results in a less flaky crust. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. 

After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 425˚F.  

Prepare filling    Combine raspberries, flour, and sugar in small bowl. Set aside. 

Finish    Roll one disk of dough into a roughly 13-inch-diameter circle. Carefully fold in half, then place this in a 9-inch pie dish and unfold, positioning dough evenly in the dish with the edges hanging over. Trim the dough so that a ½-inch overhang remains.  Roll out the other disk into a 13-inch circle. If making a lattice-top crust, cut into 12 strips, each ¾ inch wide.  

Pour the berry mixture into the bottom crust. Place 6 of the lattice strips over the filling, evenly spaced about ¾ inch apart. Take each of the next 6 strips and weave those through the original 6. When this is done, trim the excess length so that no more than 1 inch hangs over. Crimp the edge of the pie. (For a much more elaborate explanation of this process, and pie making in general, refer to Great Pies & Tarts by Carole Walter.) 

If you prefer a solid top, simply place the rolled-out top crust over the berry mixture. Crimp the edges to seal the bottom and top crusts together. Cut vents in the top crust to let the steam out.     

Bake at 425˚F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350˚F for 45 minutes, until pie is bubbly and top is light brown. 

Time Posted: Feb 10, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Ben Taylor, Asst. Vineyard Manager

Rainy Day Friday

It’s Friday, January 20, 2017, and I just made it to my office after driving around the ranches. I’m soaking wet but my space heater is on and I have a cup of tea to my left. It was an adventure filled time checking drains as we received an inch of rain in less than an hour. This is very good for our area that has been lacking a good rainy season, but my-oh-my, it’s crazy out there! Looking at our rain totals here for the Rincon ranches, we’re at 19.48” for this year! That’s 2 inches less than the fabled year-average that we haven’t seen in awhile and we’re only the middle of January!

Vines After rainy Friday morning.

This is all very good news for a multitude of reasons.  One thing is less irrigation water that we will need to put out on our grapevines. At Talley Vineyards, we encourage deep rooting by deficit irrigating. In lay person terms, we water to a minimum to force our vines to seek water. They do this by sending their roots deeper into the soil. This is where our vines really find the soil profile that creates the terroirs that are unique to our wines’ flavor profiles. This is great for the quality of the wine but can be very difficult from the farming perspective. Those lower soil zones are where salts get trapped and these salts can affect vine health. This can affect yields and plant development. These big downpours and consistent rain do a great job pushing these salts down, greatly helping the health of our vineyards.

It’s exciting start to 2017, indeed! I’m looking forward to farming this season with a closer to normal rain year and we should see some outstanding wines come out from it! Cheers!

Time Posted: Jan 27, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Lindsey Bateman, Sales & Marketing Asst

Sneak Peek #2!

As promised, we are sharing another delicious recipe from Brian Talley’s new cookbook, Our California Table, in anticipation of the book’s spring release date.  This fresh and veggie-filled side dish is the perfect way to kick-start all of those healthy New Year’s resolutions.  Not to mention it’s versatile, too.  Just add some grilled chicken or shrimp to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a good looking entrée.

Happy cooking!


Johnine’s Orzo and Spinach Salad

This is a recipe that my wife, Johnine, has been making since before we got married, and one that family members and guests have requested many times. It was originally developed by Mary Evely, the chef at Simi Winery in Sonoma County, one of the oldest wineries in California. The salad incorporates a number of vegetables that we grow, including spinach, red bell pepper, and green onion. Orzo, if you’re not familiar with it, is a small, rice-like pasta. The original version of the salad calls for capers as well, but Johnine doesn’t like capers, so she omitted them from her version. The dish can be made well in advance and, with the addition of shrimp or chicken, makes a perfect entrée salad.

Serves 6 to 8
Prep time: 1 hour


  • ½ pound orzo
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided between dressing and orzo
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon fresh thyme (or small pinch of dried thyme)
  • ½ tablespoon oregano or marjoram, or (¼ teaspoon dried oregano)
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bunch spinach or 1 bag baby spinach (6 to 8 ounces total), washed, stems removed, leaves cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Cook orzo as directed on the package to al dente, rinse with cold water, and drain. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then set aside.

Prepare dressing by combining remaining olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, mustard, garlic, herbs, and cumin. Whisk until smooth, then set aside.

Place orzo in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Add spinach, olives, pepper, and green onion. The salad can be held for several hours.

To serve:  Top with feta cheese and pine nuts.

What to drink:  This fresh summer salad is perfect with a light white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Rosé. A light Pinot Noir is good if the salad accompanies grilled meat.

Time Posted: Jan 13, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Diana Peterson, Human Resources

Happy Holidays from Talley Vineyards

Holiday festivities have been in full swing at Talley Vineyards including our Talley Vineyardcrew holiday dinner at Ember Restaurant in Arroyo Grande. If you haven’t visited yet, it should definitely be on your list. Your taste buds will thank you! Chef/Owner Brian Collins cooks amazing artisanal meals, focusing on locally sourced ingredients and served in a cozy setting.

We started with delicious appetizers, including dungeness crab with cilantro & lime, prosciutto wrapped artichokes, and polenta. We then moved on to several amazing entrees such as grilled swordfish, seared scallops, and red wine braised short ribs. Everything basically melts in your mouth and is a fantastic combination of flavors; everything perfectly cooked. Some of the ingredients I have never even heard of, but they combine to form a fantastic food experience. Desserts were mouth-watering bites of oven toasted marshmallow ice cream cake and apple tart tatin.

Oh, and of course, the wine. To start the night, we toasted each other with our Talley Vineyards sparkling wine, which is always a treat. We only produce a very small amount of this, so it’s only brought out for special occasions such as our holiday party. And of course it’s always fun to try some of our library wines: we had a wonderful 2011 Rosemary’s Pinot Noir magnum (my favorite of the night), and a 2010 Oliver’s Chardonnay magnum that was also quite tasty. We even opened a 1991 Talley Vineyards estate pinot noir while some of our staff shared stories about what was going on in their lives during that particular year.

It was a great night to spend with our entire staff, their guests, and the Talley family. It’s fun to see everyone dressed up outside of a work setting and hear the laughter as stories are shared. We get to know each other a little bit more and strengthen our relationships.

Great camaraderie, fantastic food, excellent wine. Doesn’t get much better than that! It was a perfect conclusion to our 30th anniversary year and we are looking forward to what 2017 will bring. Happy holidays to you and yours, from the Talley Vineyards team. 

Time Posted: Dec 30, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Lindsey Bateman, Sales & Marketing Asst

Sneak Peek!

Sneak Peek!

With a recipe this appetizing, we couldn’t wait any longer to share a sneak peek into Brian Talley’s new cookbook, Our California Table: Celebrating the Seasons with the Talley Family.   This will be the first of several recipes that we will be sharing on our blog over the next few months in anticipation of Our California Table, set to be released in March of 2017. So be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for news and updates. 


Dungeness Crab with Pink Sauce

Dungeness crab is one of the true winter delicacies of the West Coast. We celebrate Christmas Eve with this dish, which features a slight variation on my grandmother’s recipe for the pink sauce. She used to add 1 cup of mayonnaise to the whipping cream. My mother eliminated the mayonnaise, for a lighter version. For many years Master Sommelier Sara Floyd and I hosted a special crab lunch at Alioto’s, the famous seafood restaurant in San Francisco. Nunzio Alioto would prepare platefuls of Dungeness crab, and everyone who was invited to lunch had to bring what they believed to be the perfect wine to pair with the dish. The guests included some of the most highly regarded wine professionals in the Bay Area, and inevitably they brought crisp Chardonnay from France or off-dry Riesling from Germany.

Serves 4

Prep time: 1 hour for live crab, 15 minutes if working with cooked and cleaned crab


  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 6 ounces Heinz Chili Sauce (½ bottle)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 4 Dungeness crabs, 2 to 3 pounds each, live or cooked and cleaned

Whip cream into stiff peaks. Fold in chili sauce and lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

If working with live crabs, choose vigorous, healthy specimens. Watch your fingers; the crabs can pinch you hard with their claws. Bring a large quantity of water to boil in the biggest pot you have. Add crabs and return water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes for 2- to 2½-pound crabs and 20 minutes for 3-pound crabs.

Remove crabs from water and rinse with cold water. When crabs are cool enough to handle, pull off and remove the triangular flap from the belly side. Turn belly side down, then remove top shell. Scoop the soft golden crab butter and white crab fat into another bowl (some people like to eat the butter). Break off the bony section, which is the mouth, from the front of the shell and discard.

On the body section, pull off and discard the reddish membrane that covers the back (it may have come off with the shell), as well as any loose pieces. Add any remaining crab butter to your butter bowl.  Remove and discard gills. Rinse with cold water.

Twist the legs and claws from the body. Using a nutcracker or mallet, crack the shell of each leg and claw section. Break or cut the body section into quarters. Chill thoroughly.

To serve    Arrange cracked parts, including back shells, decoratively over ice on a large serving platter.  Serve family style with the pink sauce, lemon slices, and drawn butter. On the side add fresh sourdough bread and a green salad. 

What to drink. Follow the lead of the guests at the crab lunch and open crisp Chardonnay or off-dry Riesling.


Time Posted: Dec 21, 2016 at 11:55 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
December 2, 2016 | Brian Talley, Vintner


As we head into the final month of our 30th Year at Talley Vineyards, I'm taking a moment to reflect on all the things that I'm grateful for.  It's rained over four inches so far and even though this has had no measurable effect on Lopez Lake, it has made the hills green which puts me in a good mood.  I'm thankful to be finished with my cookbook.  From the day after Thanksgiving 2015, when I called publisher Bob Morris to discuss my idea for a farm to table cookbook, it has been almost exactly a year.  I expect the final files to be delivered to the printer within days and Our California Table will be released in March of 2017.  Follow this link for a sneak peak.  I'm grateful to farm and make wine in such a special part of the world that affords me the opportunity to produce such a diverse array of fruits, vegetables and truly distinctive wine.

But when I reflect on what I'm truly grateful for, it's the people in my life.  Johnine and I have enjoyed 21 years of marriage and are blessed with our daughters, Elizabeth and Olivia, who are growing into thriving young women that I'm really proud of.  At Talley Farms, it's a privilege to work so closely with my mother and my cousins.  I'm aware that many families struggle in their relationships and I appreciate the love, trust and respect we share, both at work and away from the farm.  At both Talley Farms and Talley Vineyards, I'm grateful to be surrounded by dedicated and passionate people who strive every day to make the vegetables we grow and the wine we make better than ever, and to ensure that the connections with our customers are more meaningful.  Finally, I appreciate the support of our customers and partners who love what we produce and share it with the world.  Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.

Time Posted: Dec 2, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Lindsey Bateman, Sales & Marketing Asst

Where There Is Wine, There Is a Story

A few weeks back I brought a bottle of Bishop’s Peak Elevation with me to a relative’s house up in San Francisco.  I knew that the wine would be well received, but what I wasn’t expecting was how it would spark our topic of conversation for the next 45 minutes.  As the bottle was passed and poured, everyone was genuinely intrigued, not so much about what was going into their glass, but rather about what exactly was on the label itself—Bishop’s Peak.  I’m not going to lie, at first I was a bit surprised that no one knew what Bishop’s Peak was.  Sure it’s not Mount Whitney, Muir Woods, or any other major hiking destination in California, but for the County of San Luis Obispo, Bishop’s Peak is kind of a big deal.

Bishop’s Peak is iconic of SLO; a climb to the top is every newcomer’s rite of passage.  Like many, I was introduced to the mountain back when I first moved into town as a freshman at Cal Poly.  I quickly learned why Bishop’s Peak is such an integral part of the community.   On any given day, you can expect to find the avid hiker, leisurely sightseer, or thrill-seeking rock climber.  This is one of the things that I love most about Bishop’s Peak—the fact that it is enjoyed by so many people with varying agendas.   And, not to forget, the hike is also thoroughly enjoyed by happy dogs everywhere.

At 1,546 feet, Bishop’s Peak is the tallest of the Nine Sisters.  The Nine Sisters are a series of volcanic peaks that stretch throughout San Luis Obispo County.  Not all can be hiked, but of the ones that can, Bishop’s Peak is definitely #1.  The hike to the top is a noteworthy two mile stretch. Taking the Highland Drive entrance, the trail begins in a tranquil wooded grove and eventually winds up through a series of scenic switchbacks.  The sun can be a bit intense towards the end, so bringing a hat and plenty of water is definitely a must.  Once at the top, there are two benches and plenty of rocks that offer a place to catch a breath and absorb the stunning 360-degree view of San Luis Obispo County.  This is where hikers can fully revel in the beauty that all of San Luis Obispo has to offer.  To the East are expansive views of the Cal Poly campus, downtown San Luis Obispo, and Sister Mountain, Cerro San Luis.  To the West are epic views of Morro Bay, Montaña de Oro, the Pacific Ocean, and beyond.   Because there is so much to take in, it is common for people to spend more time hanging out at the top of the mountain than on the hike itself. 

So the next time you’re in town, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend a trip to the top of Bishop’s Peak.   Hikers will be rewarded with a great workout, excellent views, and yet another excuse to open up a bottle of your favorite Bishop’s Peak wine (once you get home, of course!).  

Time Posted: Nov 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Alicia Peak, Tasting Room Asst. Mgr.

From Arroyo Grande Valley to Napa Valley: We Aren’t in Kansas Anymore

Recently, a friend and I decided to venture up to Napa to enjoy a girls’ trip and do a little wine tasting. We both work in the wine industry so this was purely for educational purposes. When homework consists of tasting wine at various locations to learn and stay informed, I am sure to get an A+.

We arrived in Napa late afternoon and immediately enjoyed a tasting at Frog’s Leap Winery. We had a very nice seated tasting with a view of the beautiful Napa Valley hills, a great start to the trip. The following day, our first stop was the gorgeous chateau that is Domaine Carneros. Because I love bubbles, we indulged in the sparkling wine flight on the patio overlooking the vineyards. Their sparkling wine was incredible and something that you DO NOT mix with orange juice.  Next on our journey was Robert Sinskey Winery, where we enjoyed the picturesque gardens complemented by wonderful wine.  I had to take home a bottle of Robert Sinskey’s stunning Cabernet Franc as well as the Abraxas, a light and refreshing blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer. The adventure continued at Cliff Lede Vineyards, just a short distance away. I loved that Cliff Lede named each vineyard block after his favorite rock songs or albums. Mixing classic rock music and wine? You can’t go wrong there. Finally,  we finished our day at Mumm Napa, because when you start your day with sparkling it is only natural to finish your day with a little more delicious sparkling.

Visiting Napa Valley is definitely a different experience than what I am used to in the small and peaceful Arroyo Grande Valley.  I admit that I felt like a little fish in a big pond at times. However, Napa was incredibly scenic and offered many amazing and delicious wines. I can’t wait to plan my next visit.


Time Posted: Nov 4, 2016 at 11:46 AM
Eric Johnson, Winemaker
October 21, 2016 | Eric Johnson, Winemaker

Intern Spotlight on Graham Walker

Eric introduces us to one of our harvest interns, Graham Walker -

  • What made you come to Cal Poly to major in Wine & Vit?

I visited Cal Poly for an expo day at the College of Agriculture. I heard from Ag Business and liked it, but when I went to Wine & Vit’s presentation I thought to myself  "All I want in life is to live in SLO, be a head winemaker at a winery in Arroyo Grande with a large farm around it, and drive a mid-to-late 2000's GMC SUV."

  • Why wine?

I grew up with parents and grandparents that have a love for wine, so I've been trying wines with them from a young age.  In high school I was forced to take an art class as a part of California's requirements to graduate.  I wound up with quite a fondness and appreciation for art and being creative. Knowing how difficult and unusual it'd be to pursue  a career in ceramics I sought out a much more mainstream and unoriginal, but creative, profession in the wine industry.

  • How is your internship going and what do you think of the wine industry so far?

My internship has been going phenomenally well thus far. I couldn't be happier with the small bit of experience in the wine industry that  I've been fortunate enough to be a part of here at Talley. I get to wake up every day and go to work in a beautiful place with exceptionally supportive coworkers in a much more favorable climate than I'm used to coming from Los Angeles.

  • Do you think this internship changed you in any way?

Yes, mentally  it has given me a greater appreciation for what my life could potentially look like after I graduate, as well as a good goal to look forward to and work hard for while I am in school. Physically, I now walk with a limp and have a permanent crick in my neck.

  • What is going to be your next step?

I hope to continue to work hard while I'm in school and pursue more opportunities to work harvests in the industry so that I can come out with as much experience and as many valuable relationships as possible.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

Assuming that I can get my classes fast enough, hopefully graduated from Cal Poly 5 years from now. And, should my luck hold, I can see myself still working in the wine industry.

  • If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

The National Anthem, because it's my favorite song.

  • If you were on a deserted island, what three things would you bring?

200 yards of paracord, a multitool with a corkscrew and fire starter on it, and a pallet of 375 ml bottles of Oliver's Chardonnay. I'd have everything I'd need, including 672 bottles for messages once they're empty. (But only if I'm 21 when I'm stuck on this island, of course.)

Time Posted: Oct 21, 2016 at 11:30 AM
Ben Taylor, Asst. Vineyard Manager

Harvest 2016 is Complete!

What began on the third day of August, finished up this last weekend on the first day of October. Two straight months of sleep deprivation, hard work, and compromised immune systems ended as we picked our last blocks of grapes. Some refer to this season as “vintage”, but we’re a farm-centric vineyard and winery, and we refer to it as HARVEST.  Harvest is the culmination of all the work and input we’ve brought into our vineyards from the previous year. It’s hard as hell and can be quite frustrating when Mother Nature throws you a curve ball, but it’s also pretty freaking awesome to see the fruits of your labor. No pun intended, because I think that saying was meant for this kind of thing.

For the majority of our harvest, we had perfect weather conditions. Clear, cool night starts at 2am would get us on our way. At around 4 in the morning, the marine layer would come in and keep the fruit and pickers cool into the early daytime. With a lot of help from winemaker Eric Johnson, we were able to have a good heads up on picks and get in those blocks to pick the fruit just right. Everything was going just great, and then we got a 4 day heat wave at the end of September. This heat wave suddenly made blocks that we thought would be ready in a week, ready to be picked immediately. We scrambled, we huddled, we got a plan, and we picked nonstop. The fruit came in and we were done.

To anyone in the wine world, you’ve probably noticed a great deal of hype around harvest. That hype is no joke. For grape growers and winemakers, picking the grapes at the right time is crucial and can be close to impossible at times. However, you find a way to get it done. You dig in and work beyond what you normally think is possible. Sometimes, it means running down to the local coffee shop and buying coffee for 36 pickers to keep them going and 6 dozen donuts to show them our appreciation. I personally go through a box of 5-hour energy that’s supplemented with a lot of Emergen-C.

Now that we’re done, it’s our time to button up the vineyard but more importantly show our appreciation for the people who make up my vineyard team. We have our own taquero at Talley Farms, Juan Rico, who will make unlimited tacos for our crew, production team, and winery staff. It’s a great day for everyone to meet up, play soccer, eat, and enjoy the end of another successful season. 

Time Posted: Oct 7, 2016 at 8:00 AM
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