Wine in Arroyo Grande at Talley Vineyards

Talley Winery

During our April trip touring Wine Country from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles I had booked at tour at Talley in Arroyo Grande.  I was inspired by the interview in Steve Heimoff’s book “New Classic Winemakers of California”

 

Talley Winery Landscape

Talley Winery Landscape

Talley Vineyards is located in Arroyo Grande in the Southern part of San Luis Obispo County and the Talley family is a farming family.  Even today a good portion of their property is specialty vegetables.  They began growing grapes in 1982. Brian Talley, who was interviewed in Steve Heimoff’s book owns and operates Talley Vineyards with his wife Johnine.  The vineyards now comprise 165 acres in the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys.

While on our tour we had several opportunities to speak briefly with their winemaker Eric Johnson.  He was overseeing the bottling of a wine for another vineyard that day. They have a large space and often process and bottle for smaller wineries.

Talley Winery Soil samples

Talley Winery Soil samples

I had read on their blog about them doing soil samples from their 6 vineyards….“Playing in The Dirt” is a great read.  We were able to see the soil samples that they are now prepping for a new vineyard museum room that will be in the tasting room.

They use traditional Burgundian methods in the cellar here.  Their Chardonnay is hand picked and whole cluster pressed.  It is only briefly in tank before being racked into French oak barrels with a light to medium toast. All of the wines are barrel fermented with native yeasts.  Wines here age sur lie for malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity.   The Pinot goes through cluster sorting and is mostly de-stemmed.  For vineyard designates they do 25% whole cluster.  Grapes are then gravity fed into small open top fermenters.  They cold soak for 3 to 5 days and again ferment with only native yeasts. After 10 days or so the wine is racked into French Oak that is medium-to heavy toast and aged for 15-18 months.  This is 30-35% new oak.

Travis Monk the Vineyard Manager also stopped by briefly.  He like Eric is younger (late 20’s?)  This is a new and young team, bringing great energy to Talley.  In the vineyards they do as little watering as possible.  They are lucky to have an aquifer on the property.

As the family still has their farming operations, they have a year round workforce.  When it gets close to harvest they can pull workers off of other jobs to harvest when the brix levels are perfect.

You would think this was a really small operation considering we got to speak with these people, but it is not.  They bottle under the Talley label for their estate grown wines as well as Bishop’s Peak which sources grapes from the greater Central Coast.  Talley Vineyards currently produces about 30,000 cases annually.  The Vineyard designate Pinots on the Talley label are really wonderful.

Talley El Rincon Adobe

Talley El Rincon Adobe

The grounds here are lovely and if have the opportunity tour the historic El Rincon Adobe. This house greets you as you enter the property and is on the label for Talley Vineyards.  It was build it the early 1860’s and is constructed of sun dried mud bricks that were made onsite.  The name means “The corner” in Spanish. The building was the original Talley tasting room until the new tasting room was completed in 2002.

Talley Picnic Area

Talley Picnic Area

They have a beautiful picnic area by the tasting room with great views of their Rincon Vineyard. This is the perfect place to stop as you drive between Santa Barbara and Paso for a tasting and a picnic lunch.

Talley Vineyard Old basket press

Talley Vineyard Old basket press

 

Springtime in Wine Country – Santa Barbara to Paso Robles

Santa Barbara
Stearn Wharf Sign

Stearn Wharf Sign

Drawn to the coast we began on the beach in Santa Barbara wandering Stearns wharf and then tasting at Municipal Winemakers on Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail in “The Funk Zone”.  Au Bon Climat called and we strolled up the beautiful State Street with bougainvillea petals blowing on the breeze to taste there. Jim Clendenen’s wines lived up to the hype in my book. Then it was just a beautiful drive up 154 to Los Olivos past Lake Cachuma to taste at Qupe/Verdad/Ethan in Los Olivos see some of the amazing wines Bob Lindquist creates.  A relaxing tasting on the back patio at Carhartt slowed our pace and had us waxing poetic on the glorious fragrances of Brooke Carhartt’s wines.  Dinner of small plates and a wine wall where I could enjoy tastings or a glass at Avant Tapas and Wine ended a perfect day one.

In the morning we caught the marine layer drifting through as we headed north into Foxen Canyon stopping for a great tasting at Zaca Mesa.  The property here is beautiful.  This is the winery that turned out both Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist as well as numerous other amazing winemakers.  After our tasting here, we headed North to Arroyo Grande and enjoyed a tour at Talley.  As we toured the winemaker Eric Johnson stopped by on a couple of occasions to say hello and answer questions.  Now it was on to our final destination of Paso Robles.  We tasted at Booker which is off of 46 West and were greeted by the winery dog who is the spittin’ image of our dear Mojo from Miramonte!

Day 3 began at Bella Luna, a tiny winery south-east of Paso, where Sherman, the winemaker was pouring their Italian style wines. Staying on the East Side we drove on to Sculpterra with their amazing sculpture garden live accordion music and lovely wines.  We made our way back to the West side of the 101 to Vines on the Marycrest where they were hosting a “Songwriters at Play” event.  The sun filtered through the tasting room windows and the music filtered in from the patio while we enjoyed a great tasting and conversation with Jennifer while Vic the winemaker and a sound engineer busily took care of cables, mic stands and making sure the sound system in the tasting room gave us the best mix.  Our day ended strolling downtown where they were having a wine and art event.  We were drawn into the Parrish Family Vineyards elegant tasting room where enjoyed tasting the Parrish Family wines with a cheese pairing from Vivant cheeses and I was treated to a wonderful conversation with winemaker David Parrish regarding yeast!

Another beautiful morning saw us enjoying a drive in on Vineyard Drive from the south. Shale Oak is a newer winery in Paso and I had been lucky enough to stumble across them on Cellar Pass.  The peacefulness of this spot in the morning with its stunning architecture topped by it’s eco friendly stance made for a beautiful start to the day.  We added a little adrenaline to the morning with a drive out Peachy Canyon Road.  The twists and turns put this West Virginia girl right at home.  We stopped at a small winery called Stacked Stone.  Winery owner and winemaker Donald Thiessen saw us pull in and came out to open the tasting room to pour for us.  The property is in a lovely wooded area landscaped with “stacked stones”.  Back up Peachy Canyon we headed toward one of the highest limestone plateaus on the West side of Paso Robles 1200 feet above the Salina Valley.  Here at Lloyd’s Lookout sits the Calcareous Winery and tasting room.  The views are amazing.  We enjoyed a tasting followed by a lunch pairing with food by Thomas Hill Organics.

Mid day saw us heading North and East to San Miguel and tasting at family owned and run Locatelli.  Raynette Gregory the co-proprietor poured for us.

From this small family owned winery, we headed further east to the big new tasting room on this block, Nigel Lithgoe’s Villa San Juliette.  The drive out is lovely with expansive views of the East side hills and the property itself is impressive.  Photo’s to come!  From here we were a little wined out…so time for a little pacific coast palate cleanser.  We headed to the coast and dinner at Moonstone beach.  We finished dinner and drove partway back to Paso to pull off and wait to watch sunset.

Our final day started with tour at Tablas Creek.  We are loyal members here and took a tour before our tasting.  The place has grown so much since our last trip here.  We saw Bob Haas arriving for the day, and while we did not see winemaker Neil Collins, we did get to hang with his dog Millie!  From here we had a little time before our tour at neighboring Halter Ranch and made a stop at Adelaida to taste the wines, the almonds, see the sheep and alpacas and meet Addy the vineyard cat.  We headed back to Halter Ranch to do our tour and tasting, and fell in love with the place.  The new winery here is state of the art and stunning.  We ended our trip here on a high note.

So that is the quick view, watch for detailed posts and pictures from these amazing wineries over the next few weeks.