The first cookbook I ever owned was given to me as a birthday gift from my grandparents. I received it on January 3, 1984, and I still have it. In fact, I still use it. The cookbook title is Easy Basics for Good Cooking and I’ve always found the title to be true. The same recipes that felt accessible to me as a child are continuing to serve me well all these years later.
Shortly after receiving Easy Basics for Good Cooking, my best friend Heather and I used the Fettuccine Verde recipe in the book to cook a special meal for our parents. It turned out well and I remember the two of us feeling very proud of our accomplishment. I don’t know if it stems from that moment of satisfaction, but I still frequently use that recipe as one of my “go to meals” when I have dinner guests. Over the years, I’ve tweaked the forgiving recipe in many ways. I’ll often up the nutritional content by adding a variety of sautéed vegetables or add some protein with roasted chicken. Because I have to worry about things I didn’t consider in 1984, I always cut the amount of butter and replace the heavy cream with half and half. Of course, now I am fortunate to have a great variety of Talley Vineyards wines accessible so I can choose the perfect pairing. (I always go with a Chardonnay but, full disclosure, Chardonnay tends to be my top choice no matter the scenario!)
Here’s the recipe for anyone who’d like to give this easy basic a try:
Following package directions, cook fresh or dried noodles in a large kettle of boiling salted water until al dente; then drain.
While noodles are cooking, melt butter in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add cream and boil rapidly until slightly thickened and large shiny bubbles form (about 2 minutes). Add hot drained noodles to pan and toss gently. Add ½ cup of the cheese and toss until noodles are evenly coated. Add another ½ cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste; toss again. Sprinkle nutmeg over the top just before serving. Makes 4 servings. Pairs beautifully with Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay!
Big cities, glamorous restaurants, sensational wines, and celebrity chefs are things that come to mind when considering the life of a sommelier. This week at Talley Vineyards we had the opportunity to show sommeliers what the life of a Central Coast farmer looks like. In conjunction with Tablas Creek Vineyard, we hosted seven sommeliers and beverage directors from across the country for a week of activities here on the Central Coast.
When they flew into San Luis Obispo , it was most of the group's first time to our little slice of heaven and as we drove into Pismo Beach a pod of whales near the pier put on an exceptional show. I tried to take credit for the spectacular welcome, but they didn't buy it. After a little sightseeing, it was time for dinner at Lido Restaurant at Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach. From the ocean front reception and appetizers, to the selection of 2010 Talley Vineyards and Tablas Creek wines, to the dessert course, the meal (and wines!) offered the perfect welcome to the Central Coast life.
The next morning I picked up everyone bright and early and headed to Talley Vineyards where we met with our harvesting crew and Viticultural Technician Ben Taylor in West Rincon Vineyard block 704 to put the sommeliers to work! Hand-harvesting grapes can produce an array of emotions. Anxious energy when you first begin, confidence as you start moving through the vines, and humbled respect as the crew laps you with minimal effort. Our visiting sommeliers experienced the whole range, but luckily left the vines with all their fingers. We returned to the winery to decide on the winemaking process for our ton of chardonnay, then continued the afternoon with tours and tastings.
That evening we were joined by Winemaker Eric Johnson and National Sales Manager David Block and his wife Julie, at Brian and Johnine Talley's home. The wood burning pizza oven and exceptional selections of wines from the Talley cellar were only complemented by the breathtaking views of the Arroyo Grande Valley. We dined on homemade pizzas, Hearst Ranch tri tip, and a bounty of fresh vegetables grown at Talley Farms. The food was enhanced by bottles of Pierre Gimonnet Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Patrick Piuze Chablis Les Forets, Domaine Huet Le Mont Vouvray Sec, and 1997 Talley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, plus a beautiful trio of dessert wines, including a 1994 Talley Vineyards Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.
The following morning we said goodbye to the seven sommeliers and they made their way to Paso Robles to visit Tablas Creek Vineyard. A week like this reminds me how amazing this area is. I was so thankful this awesome group made the trek and we were able to share the best of the Central Coast, and (after fermentation and some barrel aging) hopefully we’ll all enjoy the fruits of our labor.
I'm always amused when I get back to the winery after a long stretch of business travel and my co-workers look at me and greet me somewhat curiously. People come into our office and say "Oh, you're here!" Better yet, there are some newly hired people who have no idea who the heck I am. I'm sure I will meet the newbie's very soon and I'll re-acquaint myself to all those seasoned employees who may have thought I moved on or became part of the witness re-location program.
Actually, I have just wrapped up a series of business trips that was very extensive and highly productive in many ways. So far this year I have logged 50 days of traveling for the greater cause of selling Talley Vineyards and Bishop's Peak wines to our wholesale customers around the U.S. Most recently I was in the Massachusetts area and over the three days I was there, I visited 15 accounts, both retail and restaurants, and hosted a dinner with our top sales people and managers from the distributor.
Last week was an interesting journey as well. I started the week in Boise, Idaho, where I spent two nights and worked the area for one day. It's a lovely town of about 200,000 people and growing quickly and the restaurant scene there is vibrant. Later in the week I drove to Ketchum where our distributor stages their annual trade tasting. Ketchum is adjacent to Sun Valley, a beautiful mountain resort, and a great market for our wines. I left Ketchum and drove back to Boise to catch a flight that would eventually land me in Aspen. It's not bad to start your day in Ketchum and end it in Aspen! Winemaker, Eric Johnson met me in Aspen and we attended the Aspen Food & Wines Classic. Describing the F & W Classic would probably take three more pages than anyone would want to read but suffice to say that it is by far the biggest, most elaborate event of this nature that I have ever attended in my 30 years in this business. Not only is there an enormous selection of wines from around the globe, but a vast array of spirits and craft beers. The cooking demos and food sampling is over the top as well. Along the way we met some very interesting wine industry professionals, including sommeliers, importers, buyers, and chefs. Did I mention that I got to meet John Salley, the ex Detroit Pistons player who now has his own brand of wines? Who knows what excitement the next trip might bring!
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
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!
Early in my winegrowing career, I handled the sales of our wines in Northern California. During that time, I called on a wine shop called Pacific Wine Company, one of the most iconic wine merchants in the United States. It was a badge of honor to sell wine here because they carried an amazing collection of Burgundy and the very best California wines.
In addition to a world class wine selection, Pacific Wine Company was also known for a monthly catalog that featured a distinctive cartoon cover. The cartoons were a collaboration between artist Bob Johnson and Pacific Wine Company owner Mike Lynch. Sadly, Pacific Wine Company closed its doors in the mid 90s after an ill fated move to a new location. But, the cartoons lived on as a feature in Wine Enthusiast Magazine. After a 3 year run there, Mike and Bob moved on to other projects, and the classic “Lynch Bob” cartoon series came to an end…….until now.
As we were brainstorming ideas to get people thinking a little differently about Talley Vineyards, we hit upon the idea of bringing the cartoons back. I’m pleased to announce the first in the series. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. If you do, be among the first 100 people to mention it in our Tasting Room and receive a free copy.
Summer is officially here! This is my favorite time of year, it’s beautiful outside and there are wine events to attend almost every weekend. Whether we’re hosting an event here at the winery, or pouring off site it’s very inspiring to be surrounded by great wine, good food and a happy group of wine enthusiasts.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of pouring at Pinot Days, San Francisco with our assistant winemaker Nicole Pope. For those unfamiliar, Pinot Days is a varietal specific event held in the Fort Mason Building in the heart of the city. This event draws a large crowd of serious Pinot Noir drinkers from all over the country. Now in its eighth year, Pinot Days has certainly garnered the respect of the top pinot noir producers in California as even the smallest, and top reviewed wineries can be found pouring their finest selections.
We poured our flagship 2010 Estate wine and a preview of our 2010 Stone Corral and Rincon Vineyard Pinots. These wines are already showing beautifully. As usual, and right on schedule, Stone Corral’s enticing bouquet is already well developed and Rincon is beginning to reveal its layered depth and rich minerality. It was great to see such excitement about our wines so early in their youth - we had many repeat tasters! It’s always so rewarding to get such a positive response to our wines, especially in a venue of such great company.
Some other noteworthy wines we tasted: 2009 White Rose from Dundee Hills, 2009 Failla from Sonoma Coast and a 2006 Scherrer from Russian River.