Brian Talley is a third-generation farmer born and raised in Arroyo Grande. He began his career at age 12, harvesting vegetables at Talley Farms, which his grandfather Oliver founded in 1948. Inspired by the success of the vineyards planted throughout the 1970s in the Edna Valley and Santa Barbara County, Brian's father Don planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in 1982 on the hillsides above Talley Farms.
The first vintage at Talley was in 1986 with the production of 450 cases. In 1991, a state-of-the-art winery was completed at the foot of the Rincon Vineyard, followed by a barrel-aging facility in 2000 and a new tasting room in 2002. Today Brian manages the winery with his wife Johnine, where production has grown to 30,000 cases annually. Winemaker Eric Johnson is a graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and grew up on a farm in Los Banos — he has a unique understanding of the role that the land plays in determining the quality of the wine. The high quality of the fruit achieved means that work in the winery is minimized and the wines can be truly expressive of the land from which they come.
California’s South Central Coast is one of the most ideal microclimates for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Cool morning fog from the ocean pours over the vineyards creating large temperature changes between day and night. This helps to retain the acidity in the grapes, making for elegant, age-worthy and balanced wines. In the cellar, Burgundian techniques are used. Chardonnay is whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented using native yeasts. It is then aged ‘sur lie’ and undergoes malolactic fermentation, lending the wine a creamy texture. The Estate Chardonnay spends 11 months in French oak, 30-35% of which is new.
Pinot Noir is handled with as much attention to detail. De-stemmed grapes are sorted before being gravity fed into small open-top fermenters. The must undergoes a ‘cold soak’ for a few days to extract colour, aroma and flavour. After a long and cool fermentation, the Estate Pinot is aged in French oak barrels (20% new) for 13 months.
The fruit for both of these wines is sourced from various vineyards blocks that are farmed by the family in the Arroyo Grande Valley.