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Talley Vineyards

Winegrower's Blog

Alyssa Ball, Direct Sales Manager

A Weekend to Appreciate

As we do every spring, last weekend we hosted two wine club member parties that we refer to as our Annual Appreciation Events.  While Appreciation Event has a nice ring to it, I ended the weekend reflecting on how accurate the term is.

On Friday evening we had a small dinner party for the Elite level members of our Estate Subscriber Program.  That was followed by a party for all Estate Subscriber members the next afternoon.  For me, it was a long, busy weekend, but one that felt so rewarding in the end.

During the course of the Appreciation Events, I was struck by just how many reasons I had to be grateful that weekend.  I thought about the many people who are responsible along the way for the food and wine that was so enjoyed.  I was thankful that everything is seen as a team effort by my colleagues and many of them spent a lot of time helping make the events a great success.  But more than anything, I thought about how lucky we are to have so many wonderful wine club members.  The weekend’s festivities are meant as a gesture to show our appreciation for their membership, but it inevitably ends up being one of the times when I feel the most appreciated.  It is nearly impossible to express how uplifting and meaningful it is for me when Estate Subscriber Program members take the time to say thank you.  It reminds me why I am lucky to have the job I have and lucky to serve the customers Talley Vineyards has.  Something to appreciate!

Time Posted: May 5, 2017 at 9:30 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
April 14, 2017 | Brian Talley, Vintner

2015 Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnays: Purity as a Virtue

This week marks the release of our 2015 Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnays, our 21st anniversary vintage for this series which started in 1994.  This is a great time for me to discuss my philosophy about chardonnay and how that links to these wines.  I believe that, grown in the right place and treated with respect, the chardonnay grape produces the world's greatest dry white wine.  Coastal San Luis Obispo County is one of the best places in the world to grow chardonnay due to the cool climate and marine sedimentary soils of the region, which yields flavorful grapes with high natural acidity, the perfect ingredient required to make world class wine. Our approach to producing chardonnay embraces the idea that purity of aroma and flavor is the ultimate virtue.  This means that every step of the process-- sustainable vineyard practices, whole cluster pressing, native yeast fermentation, extended barrel aging with minimal new French oak, and careful bottling without filtration--is meant to capture all of the potential of our remarkable place.

What does all of this mean with respect to what the wines actually taste like?  It means that our wines are more elegant, with a lighter and more refreshing feel than most other California chardonnays.  Each of our Single Vineyard Selections has its own distinctive personality driven by the soil and microclimate of each site, as opposed to variations in winemaking.  Citrus notes, ranging from lemon to tangerine are predominant.  Oak flavors and aromas play a background role.  For detailed winegrowing and tasting notes, see our Chardonnays on the website.

Fundamentally, these are wines that are refreshing to drink, evolve slowly in the glass over the course of a meal, and taste best with food.  These are not big wines made to appeal to certain wine critics or beauty contest wine competitions.  These wines reflect our mission:  to make and share distinctive wines that capture the special character of our place.  

My favorite food pairing with chardonnay celebrates one of my favorite items we grow:  avocados.  In fact, Coastal San Luis Obispo County is one of the unique places in the world where both chardonnay and avocados thrive.  Whether with a simple guacamole or using avocados to accompany local seafood such as Petrale sole, Black Cod or White Sea Bass, chardonnay and avocado is a match made in heaven.  Try it yourself with one of our 2015 Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnays.  Cheers! - BT

Time Posted: Apr 14, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
March 24, 2017 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Why Did We Change the Packaging on Single Vineyard Wines

When you purchase one of our 2015 Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnays, you might notice a very subtle change in packaging that will pay dividends by reducing our environmental impact.  That’s because we’ve changed the packaging on our Single Vineyard Selections to continue our movement toward more sustainable practices.  Starting with the 2015 vintage, we are switching from the heavy “cabo style” bottle to the lighter weight “classique” bottle that we use for the other Talley Vineyards wines.  This will result in reduced energy and materials used to make the bottles, as well as energy to transport both the empty glass to the winery and the wines after they are bottled.  The weight of each six pack of one of our Single Vineyard Selections is now 4 1/2 pounds lighter than before.  This might not sound like much, but it really adds up over time.  The net result is a reduction in use of fossil fuels and CO2 production.  Plus, there is the additional efficiency that we gain by using a single bottle for all of our wines, which eliminates waste.  Finally, we’ve had complaints over the years from customers whose wine racks would not accommodate the larger bottles, so this solution addresses that issue as well.  When you enjoy one of our Single Vineyard Selection wines from the 2015 and subsequent vintages, I hope you’ll appreciate this simple and subtle change that has a very positive benefit for our environment.

Old "Cabo" style bottle   New "Classique" style




Time Posted: Mar 24, 2017 at 11:35 AM
Lindsey Bateman, Sales & Marketing Asst

Spring Recipe from Brian's Cookbook

In honor of spring, and all of the goodness that comes along with it—warmer weather, longer days, chilled white wine—it’s only fair that we share another recipe from Brian Talley’s new cookbook, Our California Table.  In my mind, there is no food that says spring better than seafood and this Sea Bass Ceviche is the perfect example.  So much so, that we will be featuring this recipe at our Spring Fling for everyone to try. Please join us at our Spring Fling celebrating the release of Our California Table as well as our annual Mano Tinta wine label design competition.  Tickets are available on our website. Enjoy!

Sea Bass Ceviche

For this dish I use California sea bass, not Chilean sea bass (actually Patagonian toothfish), which has been severely overfished and is regarded as one of the least sustainable fish you can consume. If you can’t find California sea bass, corvina, rock cod, and red snapper are all good substitutes. Just make sure that the fish is a fresh as possible, since the fish isn’t actually cooked in the recipe, but rather marinated in a combination of lemon and orange juice. With a salsa of fresh tomatoes, garlic, and avocado, the ceviche is perfect for lunch on a hot summer day. All you need to finish this meal is a refreshing glass of chilled white wine.  

Serves 4 as a main course
Prep time: 24 hours for the best tostadas; 1 to 2 hours for the fish



  • 24 corn tortillas
  • Canola oil—enough for deep frying
  • Kosher salt


  • 1½ pounds California sea bass filets, as fresh as possible
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 small Valencia oranges


  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ medium red onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced in ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste


  • ¼ cup cilantro, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • Mexican hot sauce to taste

Prepare tostadas: For best results prepare the tostadas 24 hours in advance. 

Prepare Ceviche: Cut the sea bass into ¼-inch dice. Squeeze juice from lemons and oranges over fish. Mix to coat. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Prepare Salsa: Combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapeño, olive oil, and lemon juice. Gently fold in avocado. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To Server: Drain marinade from ceviche. Combine salsa and allow flavors to combine for 15 to 30 minutes. Serve on tostadas with the garnish of cilantro, additional lemon juice, and Mexican hot sauce to taste.

What to Drink: A  summery white wine is best with this refreshing dish—Sauvignon Blanc or cool-climate Chardonnay with little or no oak.

Time Posted: Mar 10, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Brian Talley, Vintner
February 28, 2017 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Our California Table

I’m pleased to announce the release of my cookbook, Our California Table, Celebrating the Seasons with the Talley Family, a farm to table book with recipes featuring produce from our farm and wines from our vineyards. 

Many people ask me why I wrote a cookbook.  Besides the fact that I love to cook, I wrote Our California Table to tell our unique story:  we are longtime farmers located in one of the best places in the world to make wine and grow vegetables. In both words and images, the book captures what I think is special about Talley Farms and Talley Vineyards and our place in Coastal San Luis Obispo County.  I love the collaboration that it fostered within the group that made it happen:  publisher Bob Morris and his Story Farm team, Ember restaurant Chef Brian Collins, photographer Jeremy Ball and his wife Michelle, along with my family and numerous friends; everyone came together to make what began as my dream a reality.

Starting in March, I’ll be hosting various events around the country to promote Our California Table, kicking off with a book signing at the World of Pinot Noir at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara County March 3 and 4.  After that it’s a series of events in Florida, then on March 26, we’ll host our Spring Fling to celebrate the cookbook release and to recognize the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers. Visit our events page for details on these events and the many other things happening over the next few months. 

Our California Table is available now at www.TalleyVineyards/Our-Wines/Cookbook as well as in our tasting room.  Profits from the sale of the book benefit the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers, the charitable endowment that supports the farm worker community here in San Luis Obispo County.  Whether you buy it online or pick it up at the tasting room, I hope you’ll choose to add Our California Table to your collection, or give it to a friend or loved one as a gift.  As much as I enjoyed writing the book, it’s even better to share it with others. Cheers! - BT

Time Posted: Feb 28, 2017 at 3:06 PM
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, Vineyard Manager
January 27, 2017 | Ben Taylor, 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
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