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Talley Vineyards

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
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
Brian Talley, Vintner
December 2, 2016 | Brian Talley, Vintner


As we head into the final month of our 30th Year at Talley Vineyards, I'm taking a moment to reflect on all the things that I'm grateful for.  It's rained over four inches so far and even though this has had no measurable effect on Lopez Lake, it has made the hills green which puts me in a good mood.  I'm thankful to be finished with my cookbook.  From the day after Thanksgiving 2015, when I called publisher Bob Morris to discuss my idea for a farm to table cookbook, it has been almost exactly a year.  I expect the final files to be delivered to the printer within days and Our California Table will be released in March of 2017.  Follow this link for a sneak peak.  I'm grateful to farm and make wine in such a special part of the world that affords me the opportunity to produce such a diverse array of fruits, vegetables and truly distinctive wine.

But when I reflect on what I'm truly grateful for, it's the people in my life.  Johnine and I have enjoyed 21 years of marriage and are blessed with our daughters, Elizabeth and Olivia, who are growing into thriving young women that I'm really proud of.  At Talley Farms, it's a privilege to work so closely with my mother and my cousins.  I'm aware that many families struggle in their relationships and I appreciate the love, trust and respect we share, both at work and away from the farm.  At both Talley Farms and Talley Vineyards, I'm grateful to be surrounded by dedicated and passionate people who strive every day to make the vegetables we grow and the wine we make better than ever, and to ensure that the connections with our customers are more meaningful.  Finally, I appreciate the support of our customers and partners who love what we produce and share it with the world.  Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.

Time Posted: Dec 2, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
September 9, 2016 | Brian Talley, Vintner

2016--Our Best Harvest Ever?

Our 30th Anniversary harvest is shaping up to be our best ever.  I'm not making any predictions about the wines just yet, but things are coming together for a spectacular vintage. Since harvest really got rolling in mid-August, we've had perfect weather with lots of foggy mornings followed by afternoons that top out in the mid-70s. The grapes have ripened slowly, but steadily and the acid profiles are excellent.

Misty Morning in Rosemary's Vineyard


Ben Taylor and Kevin Wilkinson and their teams have done a great job in the vineyard this year.  So far yields are significantly better than last year, and will probably end up just below our 5 year averages of about 3 tons per acre in Chardonnay and 2 1/2 in Pinot Noir. Harvest days have been starting between 2AM and 4AM, and we've harvested just about all of the Pinot Noir as of today, with only a little bit of fruit in the Rincon Vineyard remaining. We've picked about 30% of the Chardonnay at this point.

...essence of raspberry


To capture the amazing potential of this fruit, we have an inspiring production team and our cellar is running like a well-oiled machine. Eric, Nicole, and Nacho may have been nervous to have two new members of the team going into harvest, but Connor Bonetti and Aubrey Kommer, both of whom joined us this past spring, have stepped up big time, as have interns Will Talty, Graham Walker and Megan Coletti. We started using a new Armbruster Rotovib destemmer this year, which is both more efficient and more effective than its predecessor. The Pinot Noir fermentation room is filled with the most intense raspberry aromas that I can remember.

Left to right: Aubrey, Nacho, Connor, Nicole, Graham, Will and Eric. Megan is missing


Finally, harvest always coincides with the Single Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir release. We just started shipping the 2014s on September 1. Very much in keeping with the 2012s and 2013s, the wines are distinctive reflections of 4 different vineyards: Stone Corral, Rincon, East Rincon and Rosemary's Vineyards. Jeb Dunnuck just gave them glowing reviews in the Wine Advocate.  

Cheers to Harvest 2016--we’ve been at it for 30 years now, and I love it more than ever! - BT

Time Posted: Sep 9, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
June 17, 2016 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Evolution of our Clubs

As we wrap up our spring shipping season, it makes me reflect back to the very early days of the Estate Subscriber Program, back in the mid-1990s before wine clubs were as common as they are now.  We began that program within a couple of years of releasing our first Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs because we wanted to make sure that our best customers had access to our best and most sought after wines.  We started a precedent in those early years of having great parties where we shared special wines from older vintages or large format bottles to show appreciation to our most loyal customers.  That tradition continues to this day.  Our Estate Subscriber Program is still the best way to ensure that you can get the very best from our Estate, direct from the winery.

In 2000, we introduced our Bishop's Peak wines, which expanded our offering beyond estate grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to include other varietals from Paso Robles.  In short order, we learned that many customers were interested in receiving a more diverse selection of wines, so we introduced the Talley Family Program to celebrate this diversity.  To my way of thinking, this is more of a sampler program where people can get an overview of what we do and taste a greater array of wines.  It's also a fun way to engage with us and other like minded people at our regular "pick up parties" throughout the year.

Our newest "club concept" doesn't include wine at all--it's a vegetable subscription club from Talley Farms.  We started Talley Farms Fresh Harvest in 2012 as a way to share our produce, along with that of other local growers, with the San Luis Obispo County community.  The response to the program has been overwhelming.  I often hear people say that they view it as a weekly gift to themselves.  We are currently working on a new website that will facilitate expanding the program to include more overnight home delivery throughout California.  I'd like to figure out a way to someday include wine in those produce shipments.

If you're a member of the Estate Subscriber, Talley Family, or Fresh Harvest Programs, I offer my sincere thanks to you for your loyal support for what we do.  If you're not a member, but like what we do, I encourage you to learn more and consider joining one of our clubs--it's the best way you can support what we do in a truly sustainable way.

Time Posted: Jun 17, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
April 8, 2016 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Single Vineyard Chardonnays from 1994 to 2014

While this year marks the 30th Anniversary of Talley Vineyards’ first vintage back in 1986, it also marks our 20th Anniversary bottling of our Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnays, which we first produced in 1994.  They are now among the oldest continuously bottled estate grown vineyard designated chardonnays produced in California.  The imminent release of the 2014 wines makes me recall a few highlights that have occurred along the way:

  • The 2002 Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay was recognized at the Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary Celebration as the best California chardonnay of the tasting.  Just being selected for this tasting was a feat in itself as only a handful of wines were chosen.  We were the only producer from San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara County.  It was a very special feeling for Johnine and me to receive this honor in the Napa Valley, where the announcement was made.
  • Since 2002, six vintages of Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay have received scores of 95 points or higher from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, making them among the most highly regarded and consistent California chardonnays ever produced.

These wines obviously have great pedigree.  So what should you expect from 2014?  First of all, there are a total of four wines in the lineup, as we’ve added the distinctive Monte Sereno bottling (available only direct from the winery) to the traditional mix of Oliver’s Vineyard, Rincon Vineyard, and Rosemary’s Vineyard.  These chardonnays continue our progression toward an ever more focused and elegant style, with descriptors like “lemon curd, bright, energy, meyer lemon and mouthwatering” popping up in the tasting notes.  For complete notes on the wines, go to our website's Our Wines page.

Given the balance, persistence and acidity levels of these wines I expect them to age gracefully over the next decade.  For an example of how these are likely to develop, I encourage you to visit the tasting room where we have just released library selections of 2006 and 2007 Oliver’s Vineyard as well as the 2006 Rincon Vineyard Chardonnay.  All are drinking nicely, but the 2006s are exceptional right now.  But you don’t have to wait 10 years to enjoy our new releases--they are perfect now with grilled halibut, seafood paella, roasted chicken or your favorite triple crème cheese.  Cheers!  BT

Time Posted: Apr 8, 2016 at 10:50 PM
Brian Talley, Vintner
January 1, 2016 | Brian Talley, Vintner

El Niño Update

El Niño is everywhere in the news due to severe weather in Texas, flooding in Missouri and unseasonably warm winter temperatures on the East Coast, all of which have been attributed to this weather phenomenon which is marked by warm Pacific Ocean temperatures near the equator. 

The best way to chill chardonnay in Sun Valley!

In Sun Valley Idaho, where I spent the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, early predictions were for a "snow drought" with less than average snowfall. It's been anything but a drought there with the most snow I've seen in recent years and residents and visitors alike enjoying near perfect conditions.  The Sun Valley Ski Resort set records for attendance during my stay.  So far, El Niño has been all good for this part of the country and everyone looks forward to a beautiful spring with green hills and copious wildflowers.

Much of the focus in California has been on how El Niño will affect our ongoing drought.  The early part of the season has been good for the Sierra Nevada snowpack which was measured to be 108% of average in December.  Things haven't been quite so good for our local water supplies on the Central Coast, which receive very little benefit from snow that falls in the Sierra Nevada.  Lopez Lake, which supplies water to our local cities and downstream release for the Arroyo Grande Creek, is at its lowest level since the dam was completed in 1969.  Other local reservoirs, including Nacimiento, San Antonio and Cachuma are even lower. 

As of December 31, total seasonal rainfall in Arroyo Grande was just over 5 inches, about average for this time of year.  All of this appears likely to change as the latest prediction is that El Niño will have a greater impact in our area during the month of January when the jet stream shifts to the south.  Hopefully this means accumulating snow in the Sierras and more local rainfall which will refill our reservoirs, recharge our aquifers and turn our hillsides green.  This will be good for everything we grow, especially our oldest chardonnay vines, which have really struggled during the drought.

It is widely acknowledged that a single wet year won’t solve California’s long term water supply issues, but it’s better than the alternative.  Cheers to rain in 2016!


Time Posted: Jan 1, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
October 9, 2015 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Branch School Pumpkin Patch

One of my favorite community fundraising projects is our annual Branch Elementary Pumpkin Patch.  We have been growing pumpkins as a fundraiser for the school since the late 1990s when my dad came up with the idea to raise money, to get people out to the farm and to be a good neighbor by supporting our local school. 

Our family has a long history with Branch Elementary, dating to the days when my grandparents moved from Santa Maria to Arroyo Grande in the early 1950s.  In those days it was a two room schoolhouse, and my father often expressed to me that he learned some of the most profound lessons of his life there.  By the time my sister went to Branch in the late 70s, it was a more typical multi room school, but still a very special place because of its beautiful rural setting in the middle of a cow pasture overlooking the Arroyo Grande Valley all the way to the ocean.  In addition to my dad, uncle and sister, both of my daughters and 5 of my cousins have attended Branch.  It’s the smallest elementary school in our local Lucia Mar School District and recognized as a California Distinguished School.

The thing I love about the pumpkin patch is the opportunity for kids and their parents to come out to the farm and pick out their very own pumpkins and gourds.  It’s also the second biggest fundraiser for the school as all proceeds from the sales benefit the school.  Finally, it’s a collaborative effort between Talley Farms and Santa Maria Seed, who donates all the seed for our amazing array of pumpkins and gourds. 

There are many places to buy pumpkins in our area but I encourage those who live locally to buy their pumpkins right here.  The pumpkin patch is open every weekend in October.  If you can’t make it on the weekend, pumpkins are available for sale every day in the tasting room.  As my daughter Olivia pointed back when she was a first grader at Branch, “where else can you pick out a pumpkin and taste wine at the same time?” 

Time Posted: Oct 9, 2015 at 9:00 AM
Brian Talley, Vintner
August 28, 2015 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Harvest Update

What’s the theme of harvest 2015?  Talking to winemakers up and down the state, the same two words keep coming up: “early” and “light.” That pretty much sums up what we’ve seen here as well.  Our July 28 start date was the earliest in our history, beating last year’s record by 3 days.  Interestingly, our harvest numbers this year almost exactly match where we were at the same time last year:  104 tons of pinot noir and 39 tons of chardonnay (2014 statistics were 100 tons of pinot noir and 45 tons of chardonnay).  The big difference in 2014 was that we still had much more to harvest.  This year, we are much further along and I project that our total production will be down between 25% and 33%, within the range projected by Vineyard Manager Kevin Wilkinson and his assistant Ben Taylor.

So far, flavors are beautiful in pinot noir.  We pressed off Rosemary’s Block 7 (the backbone of the Rosemary’s Vineyard bottling that my father planted back in 1987) on Tuesday and the color was vibrant cranberry and the flavors primal and intense.  Chardonnay is fermenting nicely, but still sweet and hard to assess.  Acidity is higher than 2014 and I expect more concentration due to the lower yields.  Speaking of chardonnay, check out this video shot by my daughter Elizabeth that shows how we process chardonnay from the moment it’s picked until it goes into barrel. 

I’m thankful for our fantastic production team this harvest.  Winemaker Eric Johnson and his team of Ignacio Zarate, Nicole Morris, Pat Sigler and Devon King are supported by Cal Poly interns Sean Pihl (back for his second harvest), Cody Alt, Austin Griffin and Christina Soares.  This same group, led by Ken Hasek, managed to bottle our 2014 Estate Chardonnay at the same time as they processed grapes.  Our Controller, Michele Good, refers to the days when we bottle and harvest simultaneously as “Crazytown Cellars.” 

Eric Johnson and Ben Taylor discuss Chardonnay from West Rincon. 

Harvest 2015 Interns Eric inspecing pinot noir grapes early morning during harvest.

On another note, we are looking forward to autumn, the season we see the full bounty of what we produce at Talley Farms and Talley Vineyards.  At Talley Vineyards we are nearing the release of our Single Vineyard Selection Pinot Noirs.  Meanwhile, just across the road at Talley Farms, we have heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, avocados, peppers, and a plethora of other fall vegetables.  I encourage you to visit soon and experience my favorite season of the year.  Cheers!

2015 Talley Vineyards Harvest Crew
Time Posted: Aug 28, 2015 at 1:00 PM
Brian Talley, Vintner
July 17, 2015 | Brian Talley, Vintner

Cruise of a Lifetime

My family just returned from the cruise of a lifetime aboard the Crystal Serenity.  Johnine and I, along with my mother Rosemary and our girls Elizabeth and Olivia, got to spend 7 days cruising the Mediterranean, from Venice to Monte Carlo, with some of our very best wine club members.  We hosted this cruise in conjunction with our friends Kathy and Doug Filiponni from Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita.

Every day provided a new highlight.  Venice is an amazing city with the best boat drivers in the world.  Swimming in the Mediterranean on the Isle of Capri was unforgettable, as was walking the wall that surrounds the ancient city of Dubrovnik.  Michaelangelo's statue of David is even more remarkable than I expected, and the leaning tower of Pisa really does lean.  We finished in Monte Carlo, a city at the edge of the sea literally built on the side of a mountain.

As much as I enjoyed waking up in a new port every morning, it was spending time onboard during dinners, tastings and receptions with people who really love our wines that made the trip really special.  We can’t wait for the next one!

Time Posted: Jul 17, 2015 at 3:49 PM
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