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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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