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!
One of the common comments I hear from people, especially those in the wine trade who have the opportunity to visit many wineries, is how surprised they are when they visit Talley Vineyards.
Partly this is due to the natural beauty of our place in Coastal San Luis Obispo County, tucked up against the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, and surrounded by our ever changing vegetable fields.
Another thing they are surprised about is the close proximity of all the key elements we use to make and share our wines. The Rincon Vineyard, our winery facilities, the tasting room and Rincon Adobe are all immediately adjacent one-another. Not only is this nice to look at, it's fundamental to the quality of our wines for several reasons. First, we control our vineyards and winery, which affords us greater control over the finished product. Second, grapes are processed immediately after harvest as opposed to being transported over a long distance. Since grape quality begins to degrade immediately after harvest, the sooner the grapes are processed, the better.
This proximity and complete control are succinctly represented on our wine labels with the term "estate bottled." Estate bottled wines are those produced entirely within the control of the winegrower from grapes grown in the same viticultural area as the winery. Estate bottled wines are the best wines in the world, not only for these reasons, but also because the term implies the singular vision of the winegrower from start to finish, from planting and tending the vines, through fermentation, aging and bottling the finished wines.
Check out our video below of a morning Pinot Noir pick in the Rincon Vineyard at Talley Vineyards during harvest 2017 to see for yourself what it means to make estate bottled wines. It's even better if you enjoy a glass of our Pinot Noir at the same time. Cheers!
There are many ways to set a table. You can set a table on a mountaintop during a hike, a blanket at the beach, the folding table in your backyard, a grassy lawn under the stars, or with fine china in your dining room.
At Talley Vineyards, we work hard to create delicious wines for every table. Whether formal or casual, planned or spontaneous, large or small, any gathering is enhanced with a great bottle of wine shared with the people you love.
As we release our 2015 Pinot Noirs, I’ve been reflecting on the word “delicious." The Merriam Webster definition of delicious is: affording great pleasure: delightful; appealing to one of the bodily senses, especially of taste or smell. Delicious is a word that doesn’t get used often enough in the world of wine, but it perfectly describes Pinot Noir at its very best. It also sums up a fundamental goal that many winegrowers, myself included, don’t readily acknowledge.
Now I can openly admit it: I’m striving to produce delicious Pinot Noir!
What are the characteristics of delicious Pinot Noir? First of all is the appearance. Truly delicious Pinot Noir has a uniquely translucent garnet color. If it’s opaque or purplish black, chances are that it was either harvested too ripe, over extracted or blended with another variety. The delicacy of the color extends to the perfumed aroma of Pinot Noir, featuring red fruits like strawberry or raspberry enhanced with complex elements of mineral or earth (crushed stone, iron) and often just a hint of damp earth. Floral notes, especially in wines fermented with whole clusters, are common as well.
The flavor will have a suggestion of sweet fruit, even though the wine is bone dry. It will be perfectly balanced with enough acidity to provide energy and length, but not so much to be tart. It’s not overly tannic, but has enough structure to pair with a variety of foods, including red meat. A hint of smoky French Oak is the perfect finishing touch. Fundamentally, it is so interesting and refreshing that you can’t wait to have another sip. In a word, it’s delicious!
Now that I’ve described what delicious Pinot Noir looks, smells and tastes like, the obvious question is, how do you make it? First, one has to start in a place with the potential to produce delicious Pinot Noir. These places tend to be cool growing regions with moderately vigorous soils. The most noteworthy examples are the Cote d'Or region of Burgundy, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and the most coastal parts of California, including the Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys where we are based.
The final ingredient is people with the passion and commitment to capture all of the potential of these places, typically farming for low yields and employing classic old world winemaking techniques.
Those of you familiar with our approach at Talley Vineyards will note that we have all those ingredients here: the distinctly cool climate and marine sedimentary soils of the San Luis Obispo Coast region and a commitment to classical winegrowing reflected in our four generation family farming legacy.
For complete details on the 2015 Talley Vineyards Pinot Noirs, including tasting notes, vist our Pinot Noir section on our website. Our newest releases perfectly capture my vision of delicious Pinot Noir. I hope you agree! BT
Every harvest has its memorable attributes, but 2017 will definitely go down as one of the strangest ever. First of all, it started on August 21, the day of the Solar Eclipse. Granted, no one here could see the eclipse due to the fog. Since that first day, we’ve experienced a heatwave over Labor Day weekend which culminated with monsoon conditions, and a little rain on September 3 and 4.
Night Harvest at Rosemary's Vineyard
In addition to the abnormal weather conditions, our picking order has been atypical. For the first time in our history, we started harvest with pinot noir in the Stone Corral Vineyard, as opposed to Rosemary’s Vineyard, where harvest has started for the last 5 years or so. Usually Stone Corral comes in about half to two-thirds of the way through our pinot noir harvest, and my theory for why things changed is that the calcareous clay soils of our other vineyard sites retained more moisture from the 30 inches of rain we received this year. Stone Corral is a very sandy site, and was unaffected by this phenomenon.
(pictured at right: Connor Bonnetti inspecting pinot noir on the berry sorter, the final sorting of a 3 step process to eliminate botrytised clusters)
Speaking of rainfall, the return of a more normal growing season has caused a return of conditions and challenges we haven’t experienced since before the drought of 2012-2016. First of all, our harvest start date is the latest since 2011, which was a nice relief. On the other hand, more vigorous vine growth and moist conditions have increased the incidence of botrytis cinerea, the “noble rot” associated with sweet dessert wine, but the enemy of dry wine. Botrytis is a fungus that reduces our crop and causes rot in the clusters that results in off aromas and flavors in the finished wines. We’ve mitigated this by sorting heavily, both in the vineyard and at the winery, to eliminate damaged clusters from the mix. In our most important section of Rosemary’s Vineyard, we sorted out 1100 pounds or 14% of the 3.95 tons harvested. While this adds cost and difficulty to the harvest, it’s the only way to ensure that we produce the distinctive wines that are consistent with our mission and that you have come to expect from us.
(pictured below right: Harvest intern Mark Poindexter and Winemaker Eric Johnson, cluster sorting Rosemary's Vineyard Pinot Noir.)
Regarding yields, things are trending behind 2016 (average yields) and ahead of 2015 (much below average), which means that we’ll likely finish the season slightly below our targets of 3 tons per acre in chardonnay and 2 tons per acre in pinot noir. As of September 5, we had harvested 65 tons of pinot noir and 39 tons of chardonnay, whereas on this date last year, we had harvested 106 tons of pinot noir and 28 tons of chardonnay.
While not as smooth and seamless as our most recent harvests, I have high hopes for 2017. I am appreciative of our dedicated harvest and production teams who go above and beyond to ensure that only the very best fruit ends up in our fermenters. Often, we do our best work when challenged by Mother Nature. Cheers! BT
(pictured left: the winery is full of fermenting pinot noir)
It's summertime, which is a great time to celebrate simplicity in the kitchen matched with a cool and refreshing drink. One of my favorite wine pairings features two of my favorite things we grow: avocados and Chardonnay. In fact, Coastal San Luis Obispo County is one of few places in the world where avocados and world class Chardonnay grow side by side.
The key reason why this combination is successful is because the Chardonnay we produce in our cool coastal climate is so refreshing and balanced due to high natural acidity in the grapes and our very light use of new French Oak. A great example of this style is our 2014 Estate Chardonnay, which just happens to be on sale right now.
Perfect for summer, is my Guacamole recipe, with the preparation simple and the results luxurious. Best of all you can whip it up in 15 minutes without cooking anything.
The recipe below comes from my new cookbook,
Our California Table.
For more recipes and great wine pairings, you should purchase a copy.
Profit from the sales of the book benefit The Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers, which supports the farm worker community in San Luis Obispo County.
3 medium-size ripe Hass avocados
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 small ripe tomato, chopped (optional)
Combine garlic, cilantro, half the jalapeño, and tomato, if desired, in a bowl large enough to accommodate finished guacamole. Add avocados, leaving the mixture as chunky as possible. Add half the lemon juice and salt to taste. Depending on how spicy you like it, add more jalapeño. Add more lemon juice if needed.
One of my favorite days of the year is just around the corner. Sunday, June 4 will mark the 24th 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. The Fun Run unifies several important themes in my life. First it reflects a commitment to healthy living, both in the training that leads up to the big day as well as the exertion during the event itself. Second, it’s our single biggest event at the winery and brings together a diverse array of people, many of whom only visit once a year. We are thankful for the sponsorship support of many local businesses, especially our biggest sponsors, Fresh Harvest, Cavaletto Brothers, Running Warehouse, E.C. Loomis and Son, Makor Wines, Wallace Group, Praxis, RRM Design and LeftLane Sports. Finally, it’s the key fundraiser for the Marianne Talley Foundation, which has contributed nearly $300,000 in scholarship money to college bound students from Arroyo Grande High School. 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, then started the Fun Run in 1994 to both support the scholarship program and 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 sixth 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 $25 tickets you can purchase by selecting the "Donate" option at www.raceroster.com for a chance to win some special prizes including a tour and tasting at Talley Vineyards with me and then lunch for 8.
I hope you can join us on Sunday, June 4. For all the details, including registration information, go to our Fun Run webpage. For questions, email Race Director Marian Fiorentino at email@example.com. I hope to see you race day!
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
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|
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