February 2016 marks an exciting, yet challenging month for me. Next week will be my last week at Talley Vineyards as my boyfriend, Nelson, and I embark on a new chapter of our lives. We have decided to do some extended traveling and on February 11th we will board a plane headed to Norway. The decision to leave our jobs and travel around the world was an extremely difficult one that I waver on daily, but the more people I talk to about it, the more comfortable I get as almost every person exclaims things like "you have to do it!" and "it's the trip of a lifetime!"
This isn't the first trip Nelson and I have taken to Europe together. Back in 2010 we were lucky enough to travel to Italy to visit a friend we had studying abroad there. Once we got off the plane and settled down into our B-N-B in Rome, I was awestruck by everything I saw. In Europe, history has such a deeper meaning and there were so many landmarks I just couldn't wrap my head around. It was an amazing experience that I remember in such incredible detail and after we returned to the states I knew it had happened; what everyone told me would happen - I got the travel bug. I decided then that at some point I would go back and see it all. It's taken longer than I'd imagine, but the time has finally come and I couldn't be more excited to see historical landmarks, taste wines in every country, and make friends around the world.
I've never been good with change and the feelings I have been filled with these last few weeks have weighed heavy on my heart. I very much enjoy my job, my boss, and my coworkers and that has been the hardest part of this whole decision. As I look forward at this amazing adventure we are about to begin, I can't help but be reminded on all the wonderful times I've had in my 3.5 years at Talley Vineyards. If you'll indulge me, I'd love to share a few!
If you reference back to the second blog I wrote, it was about my first sales trip with my boss, David Block, which will always be a highlight for me. I still remember the wine shops and restaurants we visited, the people we met and the best guacamole I've ever had at a local spot in Scottsdale, Barrio Queen. Watching David work with buyers and managers set the standard for how I would conduct myself as I began to travel on my own. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such a wonderful boss that I respect and look up to. The amount of wisdom, expertise and storytelling skills David has taught me over these last few years will carry over into all of my future jobs, in and out of the wine industry.
At Talley Vineyards we are lucky enough to have incredibly generous owners that open up their home to their staff on regular occasions. Another highlight for me will always be the many events I've been able to attend, like the "raid the cellar" pool parties, which not only allows everyone to pick a bottle from the Talley's cellar to share (seriously!) but also wood fired pizzas cooked for you by Brian Talley himself. These parties allow everyone to let their hair down and create personal relationships with our coworkers, bosses, and owners, creating lasting memories , which I am forever thankful for.
There are hundreds of other little moments throughout the years that I have enjoyed and will always cherish. Like on my birthday last year when the staff hosted a chip and dip themed lunch for me (one of my favorite foods), or the ridiculous conversations that happen when a group of us take our daily walk down to the mailbox at the end of the driveway, or even jumping in on the bottling line or lending a hand sorting fruit when the production team was short staffed. I will miss hearing our cellar master, Nacho Zarate, singing loud enough to echo throughout the winery; I will miss the countless moments of hysterical laughter my officemates and I have shared; I will miss my morning walk to get tea from the tasting room and stopping to say hello to my coworkers, my friends, along the way.
I feel so lucky to have been able to work for this company and make the relationships I've made. I'm so excited to begin my travels but also sad to say goodbye. I'll look forward to my return and visiting the winery to see all my old friends. In the meantime I'll be somewhere in Europe, probably enjoying a glass of wine and planning the next chapter of this great adventure.
I must assume that if you are reading this blog then you probably drink wine. If you drink wine then you probably have a plethora of empty wine bottles and corks lying around needing a job to do. Well this holiday season, put them to work! Everyone loves a homemade present and there are so many things you can do with old bottles and corks! A quick glance at the Talley Vineyard Pinterest page (yes, we have an awesome Pinterest page) would provide a bunch of great ideas for repurposing, upcycling and sustaining.
Use our Pinterest page as an inspiration for your holiday gift list! You'll see ideas like hanging bottle lights for your patio, cut glass planters for herbs and flattened bottles for a cheese tray or spoon rest. My boyfriend and I have made a lot of fun crafts from old wine bottles, including water glasses, candle holders, vases and lamps. Once you learn how to correctly (and safely) cut a wine bottle the possibilities are endless for what you can create. There is also a great tutorial on how to make a candle for a cut wine bottle!
There are many crafts to do with corks as well. Projects like gluing corks together to shape a Christmas tree ornament, or securing them into a large picture frame for a bulletin board or into a small picture frame for some cute coasters. We also have great ideas for other crafts using wine barrels, pallets and more.
While you're on our Pinterest page check out some of our other boards, like food pairings, cheese plates, gardening tips, and our favorite places and spaces on the Central Coast. If you enjoy pinning, you're sure to find something just for you! And remember, make this year extra special with some homemade, upcycled gifts for your loved ones. Happy Pinning!
Big cities, glamorous restaurants, sensational wines, and celebrity chefs are things that come to mind when considering the life of a sommelier. This week at Talley Vineyards we had the opportunity to show sommeliers what the life of a Central Coast farmer looks like. In conjunction with Tablas Creek Vineyard, we hosted seven sommeliers and beverage directors from across the country for a week of activities here on the Central Coast.
When they flew into San Luis Obispo , it was most of the group's first time to our little slice of heaven and as we drove into Pismo Beach a pod of whales near the pier put on an exceptional show. I tried to take credit for the spectacular welcome, but they didn't buy it. After a little sightseeing, it was time for dinner at Lido Restaurant at Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach. From the ocean front reception and appetizers, to the selection of 2010 Talley Vineyards and Tablas Creek wines, to the dessert course, the meal (and wines!) offered the perfect welcome to the Central Coast life.
The next morning I picked up everyone bright and early and headed to Talley Vineyards where we met with our harvesting crew and Viticultural Technician Ben Taylor in West Rincon Vineyard block 704 to put the sommeliers to work! Hand-harvesting grapes can produce an array of emotions. Anxious energy when you first begin, confidence as you start moving through the vines, and humbled respect as the crew laps you with minimal effort. Our visiting sommeliers experienced the whole range, but luckily left the vines with all their fingers. We returned to the winery to decide on the winemaking process for our ton of chardonnay, then continued the afternoon with tours and tastings.
That evening we were joined by Winemaker Eric Johnson and National Sales Manager David Block and his wife Julie, at Brian and Johnine Talley's home. The wood burning pizza oven and exceptional selections of wines from the Talley cellar were only complemented by the breathtaking views of the Arroyo Grande Valley. We dined on homemade pizzas, Hearst Ranch tri tip, and a bounty of fresh vegetables grown at Talley Farms. The food was enhanced by bottles of Pierre Gimonnet Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Patrick Piuze Chablis Les Forets, Domaine Huet Le Mont Vouvray Sec, and 1997 Talley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, plus a beautiful trio of dessert wines, including a 1994 Talley Vineyards Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.
The following morning we said goodbye to the seven sommeliers and they made their way to Paso Robles to visit Tablas Creek Vineyard. A week like this reminds me how amazing this area is. I was so thankful this awesome group made the trek and we were able to share the best of the Central Coast, and (after fermentation and some barrel aging) hopefully we’ll all enjoy the fruits of our labor.
This week San Luis Obispo Wine Country hosted a group of sommeliers as part of our "Go Coastal" Wine Camp. With a bit of rain on Tuesday we feared we might have poor weather for our day to host on Wednesday but as the Central Coast usually does, it delivered a beautiful day. The SLO Wine Camp was put on by a few wineries in the Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys and consisted of a three day in-depth look at what Coastal San Luis Obispo County is all about. We were thrilled with the turnout of sommeliers like Fred Dame, Peter Palmer, Adrianna Camacho and many more.
Arriving on Tuesday, they spent the day in the Edna Valley, ending with a beautiful dinner at Marisol Restaurant at The Cliffs Resort. After a tour at Center of Effort and Kynsi Winery on Wednesday morning, we met the group of sommeliers in our Stone Corral Vineyard. The picnic grounds under the shade of towering oak trees created the perfect setting for a seated tasting overlooking the expansive Edna Valley. Owned by Talley Vineyards, Stone Corral Vineyard is divided into parcels that supply grapes to three different wineries who all produce their own Stone Corral Pinot Noir. Winemakers Steve Dooley (Stephen Ross), Don Othman (Kynsi Winery), and Talley Vineyards winemaker Eric Johnson, lead an interesting discussion and tasting showcasing the vineyard management and winemaking styles that make up their very different pinot noirs.
From Stone Corral Vineyard we lead the group to Rosemary's Vineyard, located behind Talley Farms, and discussed the differences between the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys. Perched on top of Rosemary's Vineyard, with the view of the ocean in the distance, a clear picture was painted of the Arroyo Grande Valley and it's coastal influence. Leaving Rosemary's Vineyard behind, we headed towards the winery. After a tour of Rincon Vineyard we indulged in a farm to table lunch prepared by our in-house chef with produce grown next door at Talley Farms.
We concluded our day with the sommeliers with a chardonnay focused tasting and panel discussion. It was such a great pleasure and honor to spend a day with some of the most notable names in the wine industry and be given the opportunity to show them our little slice of paradise. Don't miss the opportunity to read more about our "Go Coastal" SLO Wine Camp feature coming soon in Somm Journal Magazine!
Thanksgiving is around the corner and I am anxiously awaiting its' arrival! I have a relatively small family that gathers on Thanksgiving so I most look forward to spending the day in the kitchen. As I've gotten older, I spend more and more time learning from my mom how to create the perfect Thanksgiving meal (which she does seamlessly every year). We start the morning with pastries from the Arroyo Grande Bakery and then it's into the kitchen we go. Basting the turkey and preparing the stuffing, all the while sipping on some lovely Talley wines of course!
Having grown up on the Central Coast, at this time of year we aren't getting ready to bundle up or anticipating snow. So Thanksgiving is usually spent outside playing corn hole and drinking wine on the front porch. Our family has been growing as my siblings have starting having kids, so our days of sitting around relaxing are long gone. Besides helping in the kitchen, my role as auntie includes games of tag, hiding in bushes, singing Frozen songs and keeping them from filling up on candy and cookies. When we finally gather around the table the room fills with laughter and love as we pass the plates around and dive into the vast wine selection.
My position at Talley Vineyards has dubbed me the wine provider for my family, and this Thanksgiving will be no different. We've always drank Talley Vineyards wines at Thanksgiving (my parents were wine club members long before I started working here) but now it is my job to create our wine menu. Of course we will have the 2012 Estate Pinot Noir but I definitely foresee opening some single vineyards, like the 2010 Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir. I hope as you gather around the table with your loved ones this year, you are filled with good food, good fun, and great Talley Vineyards wines!
|Pinot Noir Punch Down|
The 2014 Harvest came with a vengeance. Between the first grapes coming in on August 1st and our largest bottling of the year happening at the same time, the winery resembles something my mother would call "controlled chaos." Every morning I arrive to a different scene; grapes traveling through the destemmer, interns doing punch downs, pinot noir being pressed in the basket press, chardonnay being pressed in the huge bladder press, or fermented juice being put into barrels. If you ever wanted to learn about how wine is made, this would be the time to come visit the winery!
|Pinot Noir Press and "cake"|
I was able to take a group from Florida on a tour last week and it was so fun to be able to share this process with people who have enjoyed our wines for years. I walked them through the vineyard, around the winery, and into the barrel room. With their jaws dropped and eyes wide open, they snapped photos of every piece of this hand crafted puzzle. The favorite moment for them was watching our pinot noir go through the basket press, ending with something referred to as the pinot noir "cake". I explained to the group the process that brought these grapes here. They begin with a midnight picking and are then brought to the winery to be destemmed and sorted. The grapes are then moved to small, 1.5 ton fermenters. For the next two weeks the pinot noir receives hand punch downs three times a day to ensure the skins that rise to the top continue to mix with the juice on the bottom. Once the wine has reached full fermentation, the fermenter is poured into the opening of the basket press. Here it stays for about two hours as the press slowly and gently presses the juice off the skins, until you have a tank full of juice and a densely packed cake of pinot noir skins. The cake is then transported to Talley Farms to be composted. Watching the group’s reaction to the entire process makes me wish everyone who enjoys Talley wines could experience this. It tells the story of a family farm, a small grape destined to fill big shoes, and the people who dedicate their lives to it.
|Destemming Pinot Noir|
Harvest is a romanticized process by most, but it really is hard work with early mornings and 12 hour days. As I show up for work and wish the crew, who have been there for hours, a good morning, and leave in the evening while they are still working, wishing them a good night, I realize more and more what goes into that beautiful bottle of wine I enjoy so much. Seeing their exhausted faces and hearing their stories of getting up at 2 AM, brings out what my friends call my motherly-instinct to want to take care of everyone. Even if that only means delivering coffee and breakfast treats, or a piece of chocolate when someone needs a pick-me-up. I find myself fascinated by the whole process, which reminds me everyday why I'm in this industry. But let me clarify, I find it fascinating from my well rested, warm office, bee sting free point of view.
If you've visited Talley Vineyards then you are sure to know that it is almost always beautifully sunny around the winery and tasting room. We are about 7 miles inland from the coast and regularly experience the luxury of a coastal breeze with warm, sun filled days. We have recently decided to put our excess rays to work and make the most of our sunshine with the help of San Luis Obispo County's solar experts, SolarPonics. This local company has been serving the Central Coast since 1975 specializing in wineries as well as serving residential and commercial properties. The installation of the solar panels has been an ongoing process that officially began in March of this year. Through planning and discussion, we've decided to mount the panels on the roof of our winery and barrel room as well as along a hillside in the East Rincon Vineyard. This project is estimated to offset 80% of our power usage!
We are excited to share the progress of our solar installation with you. Projects like this make me proud to be working for a company that maintains a constant concern for their effect on the environmental. Although the banging on the roof may have not been my favorite part of this project, I am looking forward to seeing all the panels in place and knowing Talley Vineyards will be energy efficient for years to come.
|The start of the Rincon hillside preparation.||Rincon Vineyard hillside prepartion continued.|
|Just finishing up the last panels on the Rincon Vineyard hillside.||Pat taking a look up-close of the solar panels.|
|The solar panels on the roof of the winery.||Solar panels on top of the barrel room.|
This month marked my first sales trip as the new Sales & Marketing Assistant here at Talley Vineyards. Being that this was my first trip, I traveled with Talley Vineyards' National Sales Manager, David Block. On this trip we were headed to Scottsdale, Arizona to work in the market for a few days. For a winery, working in the market entails traveling to different wine shops, restaurants and wine bars with our sales representative from that market to hopefully get Talley Vineyards present in their region. To be honest, I was a little daunted by the idea of going on a sales trip to Arizona, for one main reason. When I worked in the tasting room, guests would come visit from their homes in Arizona and tell me their stories of 100 degree weather and how for them, it's not really hot until its about 105 degrees. 105 degrees! Having grown up on the central coast, I have a very sheltered idea of warm weather. Deciding on our dates for the trip made my mind fill with ease, knowing we will be going to Arizona in February, not in the middle of the summer heat.
We spent 2 days working in the Scottsdale market and I feel like I got to experience the very best of the city. On our first night, David took me down a back alley to a wooden door with a sign reading "The Truth is Inside" that opened up to what I would have to assume one would call a speakeasy. Kazimierz Wine Bar has an extensive wine list featuring over 3,200 wines with the ambiance to make you feel like it's the 1920's and you shouldn't be there. The next day we got to meet up with some amazing businesses that are revitalizing Scottsdale with their creativity, ingenuity and brilliant taste in wine and food. Getting to experience the city from a insider's perspective and meeting these wonderful people along the way gives traveling a whole new light. Not to mention the amazing food I was lucky enough to enjoy! From dishes I never thought I'd try to George at George and Sons offering us hallucinogenic peppercorns, to say I won't forget this trip is an understatement.
This has been a whirlwind of a year! I started here at the Talley Vineyards Tasting Room in August of 2012 with the hopes of someday making a career with the Talley Vineyards team. Although I loved working in the tasting room and experiencing the day to day thrills of spending each day with different customers, I jumped at the opportunity when a sales and marketing assistant position opened up. Through multiple interviews with people I had become friends with over the past year, and the unfortunate task of working in the tasting room and having to come face to face with my competition as they came in for their interviews, it felt like the hardest application process I had ever been through. After what felt like months (although I'm pretty sure it was just a few weeks) I was beyond thrilled to sit in the room I most feared during the interview process and be offered the job of Sales & Marketing Assistant. I think I must have had the biggest smile on my face because after exclaiming, "I'M SO EXCITED!" Brian Talley replied, "I can tell!" I don't think I could wipe that smile off my face that entire day, probably that entire week! I spent the next few weeks finishing up my time in the tasting room and on October 1st, 2013 I started in my new position.
Having been working since I was 15 years old, usually multiple jobs at a time, having the weekends off for the first time in my life is a treat I have yet to find normal. As challenging as a new job can be, I can honestly say that I've enjoyed every day of it. Learning new tasks, taking on challenges, and getting the opportunity to represent Talley Vineyards at trade and consumers events are all things I am excited about. And as this year comes to a close, I think I am most looking forward to what is to come; my first sales trip with National Sales Manager, David Block, is already on the calendar and I can't wait.
But enough about me! If you live on the Central Coast or need a vacation after your holiday vacation, this is the place to be. January brings one of my favorite times of the year, Restaurant Month. This wonderful tradition allows you to treat your family, your spouse, your friends, or just yourself to a beautiful three course meal at a local restaurant for the unbeatable price of $30! What makes restaurant month on the Central Coast even better is the added bonus of every restaurant hosting a local winery. This year Talley Vineyards is proud to announce that we are partnered with Novo Restaurant & Lounge in San Luis Obispo! Stop by for a night out and enjoy the newly released 2012 Talley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay paired with Novo's Portuguese-inspired salt cod fritters with lemon aioli and pickled vegetables. Don't miss the chance to experience the very best of SLO County during the month of January and indulge in the new year!