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Talley Vineyards

Winegrower's Blog

Brian Talley, Vintner
June 15, 2018 | Brian Talley, Vintner

The cold spring of 2018—just like the old days

The other day I was comparing notes on the growing season with my neighbors up the road, George Donati, in our San Luis Obispo Coast region for more than 20 years, and Howard Carroll, who has lived in the Edna Valley for more than 30 years.  Howard and I both remarked on how cold and windy is has been this spring, and George pointed out that this is typical of the way it used to be, before the onset of the drought in 2012 and warmer, dryer weather.  George told us that his standard response to anyone who complained about the wind in the old days was, “the wind blows until June 20.  After that, it will warm up.”

Fog over Rosemary's VIneyard 

What does this cold spring mean for our crop in 2018?  Here are a few key takeaways so far:

We estimate that we are about 3 weeks behind last year in terms of key milestones in our growing season.

Flowering (the period when the grapes are pollinated) has been extended for a period of about 6 weeks, about double the normal time.  This extended flowering has resulted in inconsistent development of the grape clusters and more unfertilized flowers (shatter), especially in Chardonnay.  Clusters are smaller, which will reduce the size of the crop.



Chardonnay cluster that has set next to flowering clusters


​In general, vine growth has been uneven.  For instance, the Monte Sereno Vineyard started growing early in the season and was affected by a frost at the end of February.  On the other hand, Oliver’s Vineyard started growing about a month later and both vine growth and the crop looks better there.  Rincon Vineyard Chardonnay appears to have the most variability from vine to vine.

Inconsistent vine growth, Rincon Vineyard Chardonnay


To summarize what all this means for the 2018 vintage, we will likely harvest a smaller than average Chardonnay crop and an average sized Pinot Noir crop.  Unless we have an exceptionally warm summer, I expect that the majority of grapes will be harvested in September and October, which bodes well for wine quality, since I think we make our best wines in cooler years when we harvest later.  In the meantime, our vineyard crew is working diligently--leafing, managing the vine canopy and removing suckers--to ensure that the 2018 crop is the very best it can be.  All of us look forward to warmer weather after June 20th.  Cheers!

Time Posted: Jun 15, 2018 at 10:00 AM
Evan Jones, Sales Manager

New Wine Club Members Lounge

We have always tried to continually give our Wine Club Members the best possible service and options when they decide to spend time with us here at the Vineyard.  As we continue that effort, we are VERY excited to announce our newest addition for our Club Members, our Wine Club Members Lounge at our El Rincon Adobe. 

Starting June 9th, we will offer full table service tastings, outdoor and indoor seating, comparative tastings and much more to our Wine Club Members.  Our Rincon Adobe building has long been the symbol of Talley Vineyards and what better way than to use it to give upscale, seated tastings to those who love this place as much as we do! 

We know that our historic building and beautiful surroundings will be a great setting for people to come and enjoy an elevated experience.  We are incredibly excited to have this as an offering and hope you all come join us for our grand opening on June 9th to see what we have put together for you!

Time Posted: Jun 1, 2018 at 1:00 PM
Elizabeth Talley, Tasting Room Attendant

25th Annual Marianne Talley Fun Run

What could be better than running through a beautiful vineyard and raising money for scholarships? June 3, 2018 will be the
25th Anniversary of the Marianne Talley Fun Run at Talley Vineyards and we would love for you to come out, get some exercise and help us raise money for scholarships for Arroyo Grande High School students.  There is something for everyone: a 10K, 5K, 1 mile kids run, and a 1 mile walk; or you can volunteer or donate to help!

My sister, Olivia, is currently training for the 5K because she really wants the very coveted “I Beat the Vintner” T-shirt.  My dad, the vintner, is also training. You can see his very intense training video here (but please be warned it is very hard core!)

Marianne Talley was my Aunt, who passed away before I was born.  Although I never got the chance to meet her, I am able to hear wonderful stories about her from my parents, my grandmother and her friends.  Marianne was an avid athlete: she swam on the USC swim team and she completed the 1992 Iron Man Triathlon.  After she passed away my father started the Marianne Talley Fun Run as a way to honor Marianne by encouraging people to exercise and support our local community.

Please think about joining my family and me on June 3, 2018 at 8 a.m. 
You can walk with my grandmother and cousins,
you can try and beat my sister and father in the 5K, you can volunteer with my mother and the others who help put on this special event, or you can pose for some pictures that I will be taking.  See you there!


Time Posted: May 18, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Alyssa Ball, Direct Sales Manager

Run for the Roses at Talley Vineyards

Everyone loves a party, and apparently everyone loves a party with a theme even more!  This past weekend we hosted the members of our Estate Subscriber Program for our Annual Appreciation Party.  Since the party was the weekend prior to the Kentucky Derby, we got it in our heads that it would be fun to have a Run for the Roses theme. 

Our Event Coordinator Nikki Price grabbed hold of the event and ran (pun intended) with it.  All the Talley Vineyards staff got on board with the concept and before we knew it we had collected everything from photos of thoroughbreds to stacks of horseshoes to bouquets of roses. 
The meal also fit the theme with a brunch menu featuring a few southern inspired dishes.  No one missed the traditional mint juleps considering the plethora of delicious single vineyard chardonnays and pinot noirs that were available for tasting.

For me, the thing I enjoyed most about our Run for the Roses party was seeing how many of our wine club members embraced the theme. 
There were hats and bowties as far as the eye could see, bringing a special level of fun to the day. 
Now we can all look forward to watching the actual Kentucky Derby this weekend before it is time to start thinking of next year’s theme! 

Time Posted: May 4, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Christina Soares, Tasting Room Manager

A run in the Vineyard

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.!


Time Posted: Apr 20, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
April 6, 2018 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Fun in Arizona/Fun in your town?

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! 
Cheers!  Brian

Time Posted: Apr 6, 2018 at 10:55 AM
Eric Johnson, Winemaker
March 23, 2018 | Eric Johnson, Winemaker

The Influence of Wine Movies

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.      



Time Posted: Mar 23, 2018 at 9:00 AM
David Block, National Sales Manager

Great Value doesn't end at the checkout stand

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.

Time Posted: Mar 9, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Ben Taylor, Vineyard Manager
February 23, 2018 | Ben Taylor, Vineyard Manager

Frost in the Vineyard

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.

Time Posted: Feb 23, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Nicole Morris, Asst. Winemaker

Employee Spotlight: Connor Bonetti

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







Time Posted: Feb 9, 2018 at 9:00 AM
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