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!
Longtime friends of Talley Vineyards will remember the days when tastings were conducted in El Rincon Adobe, the historic building pictured on the Talley Vineyards label. Built in the early 1860’s by original settlers of the Arroyo Grande Valley, the adobe had a long life as a private residence before becoming our tasting room in 1988.
By the time our new tasting room was completed in 2002, the space had definitely been outgrown, but the abode has still been put to use over the years.
A few months ago, the adobe started serving a new purpose when three of my colleagues and I relocated our offices to the upstairs of the building. The impetus for the move was to create a shared office space for the four of us, who all work closely. Our destination had to be to the adobe as that is the only Talley Vineyards location with enough room to accommodate all of us, but I had some reservations about the space. While it is long on charm, the adobe can feel a little… well, old.
As it turns out, I’ve quickly gotten over my worries. Small doorways, low ceilings, and poor lighting have been heavily outweighed by the enjoyment I’ve felt in the space. That is in no small part due to how convenient and how fun it is to share an office with my colleagues. But I have also embraced the homey atmosphere of the adobe and am happily settled in. If you’d like to know more about the history of El Rincon Adobe, please take a look at our website.
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!
The first cookbook I ever owned was given to me as a birthday gift from my grandparents. I received it on January 3, 1984, and I still have it. In fact, I still use it. The cookbook title is Easy Basics for Good Cooking and I’ve always found the title to be true. The same recipes that felt accessible to me as a child are continuing to serve me well all these years later.
Shortly after receiving Easy Basics for Good Cooking, my best friend Heather and I used the Fettuccine Verde recipe in the book to cook a special meal for our parents. It turned out well and I remember the two of us feeling very proud of our accomplishment. I don’t know if it stems from that moment of satisfaction, but I still frequently use that recipe as one of my “go to meals” when I have dinner guests. Over the years, I’ve tweaked the forgiving recipe in many ways. I’ll often up the nutritional content by adding a variety of sautéed vegetables or add some protein with roasted chicken. Because I have to worry about things I didn’t consider in 1984, I always cut the amount of butter and replace the heavy cream with half and half. Of course, now I am fortunate to have a great variety of Talley Vineyards wines accessible so I can choose the perfect pairing. (I always go with a Chardonnay but, full disclosure, Chardonnay tends to be my top choice no matter the scenario!)
Here’s the recipe for anyone who’d like to give this easy basic a try:
Following package directions, cook fresh or dried noodles in a large kettle of boiling salted water until al dente; then drain.
While noodles are cooking, melt butter in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add cream and boil rapidly until slightly thickened and large shiny bubbles form (about 2 minutes). Add hot drained noodles to pan and toss gently. Add ½ cup of the cheese and toss until noodles are evenly coated. Add another ½ cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste; toss again. Sprinkle nutmeg over the top just before serving. Makes 4 servings. Pairs beautifully with Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay!
Because our first vintage of wine was in 1986, we have been looking for opportunities to celebrate Talley Vineyards 30th anniversary throughout the year. We’ve had some fun with 1980’s themed parties, old pictures on our social media sites, and some anniversary logoed items. But we’ve also realized that there is a lot of work to do here in 2016 and it is hard to focus too much on 1986!
In conjunction with SLO Wine Country’s Roll Out the Barrels weekend, we hosted a lovely event last Saturday; it highlighted some of the special things we’ve done here over the last thirty years. The event started with a retrospective tasting of some of our best vintages of Talley Vineyards Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. That was followed by a farm to table lunch featuring fresh produce from Talley Farms Fresh Harvest, Talley Farms’ CSA (community supported agriculture) program.
Certainly the wine enjoyed during the retrospective tasting focused attention on how consistently delicious our Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs have been. Comparing wines from 2006 through 2014 showed a nice age worthiness in the older vintages and a fresh approachability in the new releases. It was an excellent opportunity for both our attending customers and Talley Vineyards staff to acknowledge that our thirty years of winemaking is something to celebrate.
The lunch that followed included plenty of delicious produce provided by Talley Farms Fresh Harvest. While Talley Vineyards is happy to celebrate a 30th anniversary, Talley Farms has a much longer history. Founded in 1948, Talley Farms has steadily grown into a company that grows, packs, and ships a variety of high quality vegetables and fruits. These showed up on the lunch table in everything from the green salad to the lemon pound cake everyone enjoyed at dessert.
There isn’t always a lot of time to ponder the past, but Talley Vineyards 30th anniversary has inspired us to think about where we started and how far we’ve come. Without a doubt, last Saturday’s tasting and lunch reinforced for everyone that over the years we have made some great wine and grown some wonderful food!
My path to employment in the wine industry was not a direct one. In fact, I never considered my current career until I was already halfway in it. So I sometimes wonder – did I get here by happy accident or was I always destined?
If Grandpa had any influence on my future, then working at Talley Vineyards is probably destiny. This was a man who often sported a T-shirt emblazoned with, “A day without wine is like a day without sunshine.” I know that phrase might sound tired and clichéd now, but it was fresh and fun back when Grandpa would say it. In fact, I’m pretty sure he invented it!
An avid backpacker and camper, Grandpa knew how to pack smart and pack light for these outdoor excursions. But no matter how long the hike and how heavy the backpack, he always managed to find room for some red wine. After all, he didn’t want to experience one of those days without sunshine!
Despite being father to nine and grandfather to many, many more than that, Grandpa had a knack for making each person in his life feel special. Recently looking through some old photos, I realized that one of my special times with Grandpa also counts as my first winery tasting room experience. This picture is nine year old me enjoying an afternoon at San Martin Winery with Grandpa. I might not be trying any wine, but I couldn’t be happier. (Happy with the company, but likely even happier because I am sipping on a soda, something that would only happen while on vacation with my grandparents!) With such an early and favorable introduction to winery visits, it’s no surprise I would end up working where I do today. When I next enjoy a nice glass of wine, I am going to lift my glass to Grandpa and thank him for bringing the sunshine and setting me on my path!
After four years of an increasingly severe drought, the conversation in California has recently shifted to discussions about anticipated El Niño conditions. Preparations are being made. Sandbags have become the hot new landscaping item. People are scrambling to have roofs repaired, new gutters hung, and trees limbed.
I have a new raincoat and I figured that made me as ready as I need to be. But I clearly underestimated the trickery of El Niño. The first significant rainfall of the year rolled in at the start of last week. At Talley Vineyards we had a week of everything from hail and high winds to rainbows and misty showers. What we didn’t have at Talley Vineyards was telephone or email service.
Yep, one storm into the season and El Niño already had us beat. If you are thinking it must be difficult to conduct business with no communication to the outside world, you are right. To complicate matters even more, directly prior to losing contact we had sent a mass email to the many members of our Talley Family Program wine club asking them to be in touch regarding our upcoming wine shipment. I know they tried to be in touch; unfortunately we were unavailable. We had brief glimmers of hope when the phones would return momentarily, but as soon as we spread the word they were gone again. Creatures of habit, we continued to send emails, only to remember they were going nowhere. I ended last week feeling that we might be in for a pretty long battle with El Niño.
Fortunately, a new week has brought us “sunny” news (I have to include at least one bad pun in every blog I write), and we can now be reached without the use of carrier pigeon. I’m grateful for my colleagues who devoted so much of their time to rectifying the situation, I am grateful that our local telephone company finally admitted that our neck of the woods needed a new line, and I am grateful to all of the customers out there who are going to forgive me for not calling back last week. Here’s to not letting El Niño get the best of us!
That’s me, Alyssa, on the right in the picture. Next to me is my awesome colleague Alicia. Talley Vineyards is a small company, but we seem to have a knack for hiring same name employees. Of course, Alicia and I don’t have the same name. But our names are just close enough to confuse customers into believing we are one and the same person.
Both Alicia and I have jobs that require a lot of interaction with customers by phone and email. Theoretically, our customer communication is centered around different topics. Alicia is typically scheduling customer visits, following up on tasting room purchases, and answering questions about upcoming events. My customer contact tends to be focused on wine club shipment details, updating customer information, and assisting with online orders. But as you can imagine, there is a whole lot of overlap.
The end result of that overlapping communication and our similar names is both complicated and fun. Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a conversation and you feel like you missed something vital? Both Alicia and I have those phone calls on a regular basis; we know it is because the customer had previously spoken to one of us and is now continuing the conversation with the other. We both love trying to catch on quickly and take care of the customer as seamlessly as possible. Our sound alike names means we are also often tempted to take credit for one another’s achievements. When I receive an email complimenting me on the wonderful visitor experience I recently offered, I want to tell the customer how glad I was to do it… even though I didn’t do it at all. We have a favorite threat that we hold over one another, as well. If I receive a call from an unhappy customer I can always say, “I think you wanted to speak to Alicia, not Alyssa!”
I hope it isn’t disconcerting for our customers to learn that they might not be sure exactly who they are corresponding with. However, I can guarantee that whether you end up communicating with Alicia or Alyssa, it will be someone who loves helping customers and ensuring everyone is happy. I think that makes the two of us a pretty good team!
My job provides for a lot of interaction with our wine club members via phone or email. While I enjoy this, I sometimes regret that I get very little face to face time with them. I am sure the members aren’t suffering at all; when they visit we have a fantastic tasting room staff who knows how to treat them right. But when the opportunities arise, I look forward to meeting wine club members in person.
Three times per year we host our Talley Family Program wine club members for a pickup party. It isn’t what you’re thinking – the only thing getting picked up is wine! I love these events because they present me with a rare chance to visit with members. This past Sunday we welcomed about 300 Talley Family members to our October pickup party to sample wine, listen to live music from the Delmore Boys, have a bit of food, and pick up their club wines. I spent the afternoon enjoying chats with as many people as I could, some whom I’d never met and some who I’ve gotten to know fairly well over the years. I am always happy when I get to interact with our members and let them know how much I appreciate them.
It seemed that what was making everyone else happy was the food. It is likely that anyone who has been to an event at Talley Vineyards has had the chance to sample something tempting prepared by Sarah Matthews. For Sunday’s pickup party, Sarah served Butternut Squash Lasagna and, because person after person after person asked for the recipe, I am including a link to it here. RECIPE
For all of our members, please know that it is a pleasure to have you in the club and even if we never get the opportunity to meet, you are greatly valued!
I love chardonnay. I love it lean, bright and austere. I love it round, buttery and oaky. I love it everywhere in between. Talley Vineyards is a pretty happy place to land for someone with my palate.
It isn’t that I have a singular focus. I enjoy a wide variety of wines, am always excited to try something new, and certainly believe there are different wines that are exactly right for different meals or occasions. But my dad always asked, “Why get off a winning horse?” and I suppose I consider chardonnay my winning horse.
With that background knowledge, it will surprise no one to learn that I am eagerly looking forward to attending the upcoming International Chardonnay Symposium. Held May 28th through 30th in Pismo Beach and the surrounding area – practically our backyard – the lineup of attending wineries has me filled with anticipation. If the mention of chardonnay brings a smile to your face, I recommend investigating the Symposium. There are still tickets available for several events, including Friday’s La Paulee Dinner emceed by our own Brian Talley.
If you see me there, please say hello, but understand I won’t have time to chat. There will be way too many chardonnays waiting for me to taste them. Cheers!