Over the last few weeks our ground and the surrounding landscape have changed dramatically from the dry golden-brown waves of grass, to rippling greens stalks that come up waist high. It is astonishing how just a few days of rain can have such an immense effect!
Recently, I, along with a few members of the Tasting Room Team, have taken to running through our estate vineyards. It has been a great opportunity for us to explore the surrounding hillsides, and see first-hand where our fruit is being sourced from.
The beautiful scenery has helped make what was once a daunting task a now breath-taking (literally) experience. These after-work jogs have easily become one of my favorite activities. We’ve been blessed with an incredible team, and this is just one of the many ways our staff has continued to bond together. The combination of good company, incredible views, and the thrill of exercise has been hard to beat.
If you haven’t yet had the chance to experience the dusty gold sunset over the surrounding valley I encourage you to come join us. It is unforgettable.!
I just got back from a great visit to Phoenix where I went to meet and thank our loyal Estate Subscribers and Talley Family Program members. It was such a rousing success, we agreed that we’d like to do it again, perhaps in your neighborhood!
If that's of interest to you, please contact us with your suggestion, and we may just show up for a visit.
When Direct Sales Manager Alyssa Ball proposed the idea of hosting an event in Arizona, I was a bit skeptical. The first thing we needed to do was find the right venue. We did a bit of research and learned that a restaurant called Nook Kitchen, located in downtown Phoenix, would be a great fit: they love our wine, they have the same commitment to hospitality that we do, and best of all, they have great food. As our Events Coordinator, Nikki Price started working out the details of a reception there and came up with the idea to add a wine dinner the night before. Erika Crawford, Nook’s Director of Events happily agreed!
We kicked things off on Tuesday night, when Chef Nick LaRosa prepared a sumptuous four course meal paired with our wines. My highlight was his filet of beef with a Brussels sprouts puree, which was great with our 2015 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Wednesday afternoon was a casual reception on the Nook Kitchen patio, featuring their signature pizzas and appetizers paired with our wines. Things were a little quiet to start, but thanks to some encouragement from Nikki (aka pitching our wines to passerby on the street corner), the patio was soon full of people excited to learn more about what we do, sign up for our mailing list and order wine. Next thing I knew, I looked at my watch, and told Nikki it was time to scramble to make sure we caught our flight home. Erika thoughtfully prepared a to-go box for us, since we’d been too busy to eat.
Our brief sojourn to Phoenix was a great success:
we said thanks to our most loyal customers and made some new friends. We're looking forward to future visits, maybe in your area!
Wine movies have become a powerful force in the wine industry over the past several years. It's amazing that an industry so ripe with tradition can be altered simply by the release of a movie. I have thought a lot about this and am taking this opportunity to do a little analysis on some influential wine movies.
Being part of the central coast wine industry and specializing in Pinot Noir, I have to start with Sideways, Alexander Payne’s revolutionary film about a couple of guys cruising through Santa Barbara wine country on a pre-wedding bestie trip. We quickly find out that Miles (Paul Giamatti) prefers Pinot Noir over essentially everything, especially the bastard grape Merlot. Sideways immediately became an Oscar darling and a huge success with movie goers and the movie’s popularity drastically changed consumer wine consumption. Pinot Noir sales increase 16% while Merlot sales decreased 2%, the price and volume of Pinot Noir increased exponentially, and some estimates show Merlot farmers lost as much as $400 million in value. How does a movie change consumer preferences so much? Clearly, we should get Paul Giamatti to push more products. Talley wines, perhaps? I really did enjoy this movie despite the ridiculous economic effects.
Somm is another movie that had some interesting effects on the domestic wine culture. This documentary follows several advanced sommeliers studying to become master sommeliers, an exam renowned for being the most difficult in the world. Throughout the movie you see the trials and tribulations of these somms in their everyday life of study. I don’t want to spoil the movie by listing who passes and who doesn’t; what really matters is that a lot of people who watched that movie now know what a sommelier is, even if they can't pronounce it. My family members from Los Banos were talking to me about sommeliers I know and how cool it all is. Los Banos isn't exactly known for its sommeliers! Sommeliers are now more influential because they are out of the shadows and in the normal citizen’s vocabulary, causing more people to trust sommeliers’ wine choices. I'm sure it's mostly because they know a lot about wine, but also because customers secretly think somms are super cool.
I'm going to go into the mud a little bit here with the movie Bottle Shock. This movie really didn’t move the needle when it came to economics or consumer knowledge, but it did lie to all of us with the claim that the famous chardonnay got cloudy because it was racked too cleanly. Yeah, that doesn’t happen, all Hollywood lies. In the wine industry, bottle shock is when a wine is moved a lot during bottling; the flavors tend to take a backseat for a little bit because of all of this movement. Essentially, the wine is in a funk as if it had a long weekend, but it doesn't get cloudy and then clear again as it did in the movie. The only thing good about this movie is Chris Pine and his dreamy eyes.
One of my favorite wine movies of all time is another documentary, Sour Grapes, which documents the greatest wine fraud of all time, committed by Rudy Kurniawan. Essentially Rudy bought a lot of a wine at auction, made fake versions, and then sold both the real and the fakes privately and at auction. Wine collectors would see him buy a 1978 Domaine Romanee-Conti, valued at over $20,000 per bottle, at an auction. He would blend other wines and make fraudulent wine labels, allowing him to resell cases instead of just the one bottle he purchased. He made millions before the FBI finally caught on to his scheme. The greatest moment in the movie is the reveal to the rich egomaniacs who think they are drinking a rare Cote Rotie from the Rhone region of France when it is actually a domestic knockoff. The look on their faces is priceless! I don’t know how much the movie changed the wine industry, but the story of Rudy's fraud certainly rocked the wine auction industry. Auction houses have been sued, had to hire wine fraud experts, and had to dole out millions to make amends. It's too bad, but for the better in the grand scheme of things as many wine auction houses were riding a little too loose with millions of dollars in wine.
While there are a ton of other wine movies (I mean I didn’t even mention the Keanu Reeves or Russell Crowe wine movies!) these are my picks for influential wine movies. If you haven't seen any of these movies, do yourself a favor, get to watching and you will not regret it. Maybe Bottle Shock, but like I said, at least Chris Pine is in it.
For people who love great wine, there is nothing better than finding one of your favorite varietals on sale at a local wine shop or even on the internet with a sign proclaiming “Special Saving” or “Lowest Price”. If you know the brand and are familiar with the actual featured wine, it may feel like you just hit the jackpot. Some would call that a great value. But upon closer examination maybe this isn’t the wine you actually know and love, but something similar,
You get your bottle(s) home and anxiously pour the first glass only to reveal that … hmmm this doesn’t taste the same as I recall. Oh shoot, I like their Red Blend and this is their Merlot. All kinds of small peculiarities might come into play that clearly let you know that maybe it wasn’t such a great deal after all. Some folks like to cruise the wine aisle looking for that Chardonnay with the cute label. You know the one with the furry Panda that costs $8.99. But each one of us has our own notion of great value, especially when it comes to wine. How about a great vintage Champagne from a Grand Cru vineyard for $99, or a first growth Bordeaux for $200? Pssst… I can get you a bottle of Coolio Vineyards for $300, it’s going for $500 at the winery!
Recently, I visited a well known national grocery chain and noticed a large stack of wine that was all priced at $2.99, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, you name it. All of this wine “specially produced” just for this store. It’s all about perspective and of course, and what you like to drink.
So, if you find that one special wine that satisfies your pallet, drinks great every time you open it, and doesn’t require a cash advance from “Check into Cash” when you buy it, then you likely have found a great value. However, if you are still searching for that wine, or are looking to expand your list of favorites, I have a suggestion, drop by the tasting room at Talley Vineyards and sample through the vast assortment that awaits. From the Growler wine program poured from kegs all the way up to vineyard designated Pinot Noir sourced from unique locations in the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys, you are assured exceptional value. These are wines that reflect their vineyard source, are grown and produced by the same family that planted the vineyards some 36 years ago, and operate with the same attention to detail since the very first vintage.
Afterall, there is more to a great value than the price alone.
February in the Arroyo Grande Valley is typically characterized by ample amounts of rain followed by green hills. But this February in the AGV, we’ve seen weeks of temperatures nearly triple digits followed by freezing this week. At this time last year, the vines were all dormant and we were at around 266 growing degree days. Checking Weather Underground this morning, we’re already at 443 growing days. At this date last year, we had received more the 27 inches of rain. It was an exceptional rain year, but the less than 3 inches of rain received so far in 2018 is beyond depressing.
As a result, the hills have not turned that familiar, almost electric neon green and we’ve experienced some early bud break. Bud break in mid-February is not great because of the chance it can be followed by cold weeks like this one. This week has been exceptionally cold with temperatures as low as 25 degrees in spots. The frost conditions damage the tender buds, severely deforming the growth that becomes plant shoots and fruit, so we use wind machines and overhead sprinklers for protection. The wind machines circulate air, pushing the cold air out of the plant zone. Meanwhile, the overhead water creates ice that acts as a layer of insulation over the plants. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is actually the better of the two methods.
My crew and I will be keeping a close eye on the vineyard blocks that saw early bud break, inspecting for any damage to the buds. A couple of us have been working through the night, turning on the wind machines and water to protect the plants. We’re all very hopeful that we will have a wet March, because it has been a very challenging February.
I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about someone who is very vital to the winemaking process, but doesn’t get as much recognition as others because he is a behind the scenes kind of man. Today I introduce to youTalley Vineyards Cellar Assistant, Connor Bonetti.
He came to us with a wide array of winemaking experience, starting with his 2007 graduation from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with degrees in Agribuisness, Marketing and Wine and Viticulture. Connor then went on to work at various wineries domestically and internationally including Laetitia (Arroyo Grande, CA), Paraiso (Soledad, CA), Saint Clair (Blenheim, NZ), Ravenswood (Sonoma, CA), Kosta Brown (Sebastopol, CA), D’Arenberg (McLaren, AU), Brands Ciara (Coonawarra, AU), Sojourn (Sonoma, CA), and Bien Nacido (Santa Maria, CA). He has been with us at Talley for over two years now.
Now that Connor has been at Talley Vineyards for over two years, it is time you get to know him like we do.
Q: Where are you from?
A: Corral de Tierra in Monterey County
Q: Why did you get in the wine industry?
A: My Dad was an avid wine drinker and my Grandfather made his own wine, so it has always been around me from an early age. I also fell in love with the farming side of winemaking.
Q: What makes you passionate about you role at Talley Vineyards as a Cellar Assistant?
A: I love making great wine, especially Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. My role is very diverse and always changing. I also love the creative aspect of winemaking.
Q: Describe a Typical day at Work:
A: It really depends on the time of year. Harvest is very different than the rest of the year. During harvest, I am processing grapes, barreling down wines, cleaning, pressing whites and punching down fermenters.
The rest of the year we are participating in group tastings, making blends, topping barrels, and adjusting sulfur levels. That is just to name a few tasks. Today I am stacking pallets on the bottling line. Like I said my job is very diverse.
Q: What are two truths and one lie about you?
A: I traveled in a van for two months in New Zealand and lived in severel surf commune/hostels. I drove a donkey cart taxi in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. I won trivia night at a bar in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. (Note: Think you know which of these is a lie? Add your guess and email address in the comment section. The first reader to guess correctly will win a complimentary copy of Brian Talley's cookbook, Our California Table.)
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I am really into History and Anthropology.
Q: What is something you feel is unique or interesting about a place you traveled?
A: I really loved Manchu Picchu. I love places that have historical significance. Ancient Cultures fascinate me.
Q: If you were stuck on a deserted island, what three things would pick to have with you?
A: My 6’2’’ surfboard, my 9’ surfboard, and a fishing pole
The New Year is always a great time to start fresh and take on new adventures.
I don’t typically like to make resolutions, but more goals for the upcoming year. Sometimes it’s as simple as trying something new or reverting back to a good habit. One of my goals this year is to hike more often, and we are so fortunate to live on the Central Coast, there are so many amazing places to hike! Especially since we have great weather most of the year!
Last year some of the Talley employees had the opportunity to hike the Pismo Preserve. I had hiked it once before, but I was still looking forward to it. We went on a different trail and it was beautiful! Plus, an added bonus of bonding with your co-workers isn’t so bad either. The views are amazing! You can see all of Pismo Beach, Shell Beach, Avila Beach and south toward Guadalupe dunes. A lot of history is in the mountains, so going on the docent led hike makes for an interesting and unique hike.
They have not officially opened the Pismo Preserve to the public yet, but you can visit their website and request a docent led hike.
Being born and raised in Arroyo Grande, I always enjoy exploring new areas and taking advantage of our beautiful weather by getting outside to be active. Hope you venture out to the Pismo Preserve, or any other hike in the San Luis Obispo County and make sure to visit us at Talley Vineyards for a relaxing glass of wine after! Happy hiking!
The employees here at Talley are incredibly lucky to come to work everyday in such a beautiful place and we want to share this one-of-a-kind Winery with everyone. We have offered a Tour and Taste at Talley Vineyards for a long time, and is a great way of being able to get a “behind the scenes” view of our Winery and Vineyards!
We have had so much fun doing these tours that we wanted to give everyone a chance to get a more in-depth and elevated tour. I am happy to introduce our Talley Estate Experience which will begin with a tour of our Tasting Room, East Rincon Vineyard, Winery, and Barrel Room. Once you have had a chance to see our grounds here, we will head up to the El Rincon Adobe for a comparative tasting of our Single Vineyard wines accompanied by a cheese plate. Your host will guide you through this tasting as well as a full background and history of Talley Vineyards, Talley Farms and El Rincon Adobe.
We all love sharing Talley Vineyards special characteristics and think this is a great way to really get a chance to see what we do here. Whether you are a first-time customer looking for a fun and educational time or a long time Wine Club member looking for an incredible new experience here, I highly recommend this amazing experience.
I look forward to seeing everyone in 2018!
I have to admit that I’m glad 2017 is behind us. There were many monumental events in the news: from ongoing political upheaval, to the tragedy in Las Vegas, to the worst fires in our state’s history. Meanwhile, the rhythms of our farming and winegrowing operations continue just as they have since my grandfather and parents founded Talley Farms and Talley Vineyards so many years ago: we plant, prune, tend and harvest our vines and vegetables throughout the course of the year, often on a schedule immune to outside events and dictated by Mother Nature. On the other hand, we are committed to ongoing evolution and improvement in every aspect of what we do. Here’s a brief list of some of the things I’m especially excited about in the coming year.
70 Years of Farming. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the year that my grandfather, Oliver Talley, began farming in the Arroyo Grande Valley in 1948. While many of our farming practices have evolved, the fundamental vision to strive for excellence in everything we do has stayed the same. We look forward to celebrating this milestone in special and creative ways and welcome you to join us in the celebration.
30th Anniversary Releases. We’ll be releasing wines from the 2016 vintage, which marks our 30th Anniversary since my parents, Don and Rosemary Talley, founded Talley Vineyards in 1986. Our Single Vineyard Selections will have new packaging and all Talley Vineyards wines will have a special back label commemorating the anniversary.
New Production in our Vineyards. New Pinot Noir vines that we planted in the West Rincon Vineyard in 2016 will bear their first crop in 2018. This is some of the very best land that we farm: one area produced the legendary West Rincon Pinot Noir bottlings of 2000 and 2001, regarded by many as among the best we’ve ever produced. Meanwhile, we have chosen to add new varieties to our mix in both West Rincon and Oliver’s Vineyards. While we are still finalizing the selections, the most likely new varieties will be Grenache, Chenin Blanc and Gruner Veltliner. Grafting will occur in the winter of 2018, and the first wines will be produced in the 2019 vintage.
Scholarships for Farm Workers. After discussions with Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, Johnine and I are thrilled to announce that we will be starting a scholarship for sons and daughters of farm workers who work in San Luis Obispo County. Part of the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers held at the Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County, we anticipate granting the first scholarships for incoming freshmen or transfer students in the fall of 2018.
Best wishes to you and your family in the coming year. Cheers to a great 2018!
It can be stressful purchasing gifts for many different people, and if you are wondering what to bring to the next holiday party or gathering, I have some fun ways for you to give the gift of wine!
The Wine Duo
If you don’t know whether the recipient prefers red or white, tie one of each together as a thoughtful gift. It gives them two nice options versus one. Our Rincon Pinot Noir and Rincon Chardonnay are a delightful duo!
Wine for the Cheese Lover
A nice cheese board and some yummy cheeses, paired with a beautiful Talley Vineyards Pinot Noir, always makes for a tasteful gift. You might even add a set of cheese knives to complete the set.
Wine and All the Supplies
A lovely bottle of Talley Vineyards Chardonnay, a set of wine glasses, and a wine opener is a wonderful gift for the individual who is just jumping into the wine world.
Wine for the Cyclist
A sleek leather bicycle wine carrier wrapped with our Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir is a sure win for the wine lover who likes to ride!
A bottle of Talley Vineyards wine is a fabulous present, but combining it with another gift makes it even more special. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!