Don and Rosemary Talley.
Don, Brian, and Rosemary Talley.
Brian and Johnine Talley.
The Talley family established Talley Farms and Talley Vineyards, farmed by three generations since 1948, to provide premium quality vegetables to thousands of local customers, produce markets and restaurants for over 72 years. The second generation, Don and Rosemary Talley, planted the first grapes and established the first winery in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley on historic ranch land. Their estate wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, have received extraordinary recognition from the White House and at the Judgement of Paris in 2006. Brian and Johnine Talley, the third generation, established the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers in 2004, and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support local farmworkers, the first philanthropy of its kind in San Luis Obispo County.
Impact on the Wine History of San Luis Obispo County
- Oliver founded Talley Farm in 1948 in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley providing vegetables to thousands of local customers, produce markets, and restaurants for over 72 years.
- Rosemary and Don Talley were the first to plant grapes in the lower Arroyo Grande. Rincon Vineyard was established in 1982. They named their business Talley Vineyards.
- Talley Vineyards was the first to establish a winery in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley.
- Don Talley and his son Brian Talley have worked hard to establish and support the Arroyo Grande American Viticultural Area (AVA) established in 1990.
- Rosemary and Don Talley were the first to produce wine, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley. Their first vintage was 1986.
- Talley Vineyards was the first winery to produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Burgundian old-world style in the Arroyo Grande Valley.
- The El Rincon Adobe, built in the 1860s by Ramon Branch, was restored by the Talley family. It is used for their events and administrative offices. The old adobe is pictured on their wine label. They have preserved the history of the original Rancho Santa Manuela Land Grant held by Francis Ziba Branch, Ramon’s father, one of the earliest settlers in the area.
- Talley Estate Wines were the first wines in the Arroyo Grande Valley to be served at the White House.
- Talley Vineyard Estate Chardonnay has been recognized by Wine Spectator as one of the top 100 Wines of the Year in 2000.
- Brian and Johnine established the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers to support local farmworkers and their families in 2004.
- First to develop a particular wine to sell in the Talley Tasting Room to benefit the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers.
- The 2002 Rosemary’s Chardonnay was named the best California Chardonnay at the 30th Anniversary Event of the Judgement of Paris.
- Brian is co-founder of the World of Pinot Noir Event in 2000 which has been held annually for twenty years during the first weekend in March on the Central Coast. The mission of the organization is to provide education and celebration of Pinot Noir and its producers who come together from the highest quality and unique regions in the world.
- Rincon Vineyard has been named a Grand Cru of California by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
- The 2012 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir was awarded a score of 98 points in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, making it one of the highest-scoring California Pinot Noirs ever reviewed.
Talley Farms and Vineyards – 1948 to 2020 – 72 years in the Arroyo Grande Valley
Oliver Talley was the founder of Talley Farms in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley. He selected the land located on the south side of Lopez Road to plant fields of vegetables, in 1948. The business has grown over the last 72 years into a large and successful farm that provides vegetables for thousands of local customers with CSA boxes each week as well as produce markets and restaurants with high-quality seasonal vegetables.
Oliver’s son Don Talley joined the business after he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1962. That same year, he married Rosemary Green who would later join him at Talley Farms and cofound Talley Vineyards. As an astute businessman, Don encouraged Oliver to expand and diversify their operations to include vineyards. Once the decision was made, Don began the initial planting of the Rincon Vineyard in 1982. The first plantings consisted of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Oliver’s favorite, Riesling. With the exception of Cabernet Sauvignon, which wouldn’t ripen in the cool climate, all were successful and continue to be produced to this day. Originally the plan had been to sell grapes to winemakers. However, Don supervised the production of wine from their first harvests and made the decision to establish a winery and hire winemaker Steve Rasmussen, a graduate of the University of California at Davis.
The inaugural commercial vintage was 1986, and for the first 5 years, the wines were made in a makeshift winery adjacent to a vegetable cooler. A new winery was completed in 1991 at the foot of the Rincon Vineyard, and Talley Vineyards wines have been made in that location ever since.
The third generation, Brian Talley, joined the vegetable farming business after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. During his time in Berkeley, Brian had worked in retail wine shops and fallen in love with the wine industry. He was given the opportunity to lead Talley Vineyards in 1991 when he was appointed General Manager.
Talley Estate Wines and Bishop’s Peak Wines in the Cassic Old-world Style
Brian learned winemaking by working closely with Steve Rasmussen as well as tasting classically styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Over the next few years, Brian and Steve developed the house style, a marriage of old-world winemaking with California grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Over time, the winery developed two lines: all wines labeled Talley Vineyards were produced from Estate Grown grapes, while Bishop’s Peak wines included purchased fruit.
Under the watchful eye of winemaker Eric Johnson, the wines are still produced in classic old world style developed more than 25 years ago by Steve Rasmussen and Brian Talley; a style that celebrates harmony, grace and the special character of the San Luis Obispo Coast region.
Awards and Accolades
Talley Vineyards has enjoyed consistent accolades for its wines since the mid-1990s, including selections on the Top 100 lists of Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine and Spirits Magazines. The 2002 Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay was judged the best California Chardonnay in the 30th Anniversary Judgment of Paris Tasting in 2006. More recently, the 2012 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir was awarded a score of 98 points in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, making it one of the highest-scoring California Pinot Noirs ever reviewed.
Talley Vineyards Wines served at the White House during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations
The Talley Vineyards Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs were served at state luncheons and dinners, the Celebrations of the Special Olympics and the Sara Lee Frontrunners Awards, and diplomatic negotiations at both the White House and Camp David. Read the article here.
Rincon Adobe, today.
1860s: Rincon Adobe built by Ramon Branch, an early settler in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley.
1948: Oliver Talley founds Talley Farms on Lopez Road in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley.
1962: Oliver’s son, Don Talley, joins the staff at Talley Farms after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley.
1962: Don Talley marries Rosemary Green.
1982: Don and Rosemary Talley co-found Talley Vineyards on additional land purchased by the Talley family on the north side of Lopez Road in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley.
1982: Don and Rosemary Talley plant the first grapes in the lower Arroyo Grande Valley in the Rincon Vineyard, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Oliver’s favorite, Riesling.
1985: Don and Rosemary Talley make the decision to found their own winery. Steve Rasmussen is hired as the winemaker.
1986: The first commercial vintage of Talley Vineyards is produced.
1986: The first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines are produced in the Arroyo Grande Valley.
1987: Rosemary’s Vineyard is established.
1987: The El Rincon Adobe, located in the Rincon Vineyard, is restored.
1988: Brian Talley, son of Don and Rosemary Talley, joins the farming operation of Talley Farms.
1991: Brian Talley becomes general manager of Talley Vineyards
1991: New winery is completed, designed by Steve Rasmussen and located at the base of the Rincon vineyard.
1993: First Talley Estate wines are served at the White House on October 15th.
1996: Rosemary’s Pinot Noir is served at the White House for the first time.
1999: Talley Estate wines are served at two State Dinners in the White House honoring the Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China and the President of the Government of Spain. The Talley Estate wines are also served at the Celebration of the Sara Lee Frontrunner awarded to world-famous chef Julia Child.
2000: In the final days of the Clinton Administration, Talley Estate wines were served during the Israeli-Palestinian discussions at the Presidential Retreat at Camp David.
2000: Talley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay is recognized by Wine Spectator as one of the Top 100 wines of the year.
2001: Talley Estate wines are served at the White House dinner honoring the Commanders in Chief on February 6th.
2001: Talley Estate wines are served at the White House Celebration dinner honoring the Special Olympics on December 13th.
2001: Stone Corral Vineyard is established.
2002: Tasting Room at Talley Vineyards is opened.
2004: The Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers is established by Brian and Johnine Talley to support San Luis Obispo County farmworkers.
2005: Talley Estate wines are served at the White House Celebration dinner of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
2006: The 2002 Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay was judged as the best California Chardonnay in the 30th Anniversary Judgment of Paris Tasting in 2006.
2010: Eric Johnson becomes lead winemaker of Talley Vineyards.
2017: Rincon Vineyard is named a Grand Cru of California by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
More recently, the 2012 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir was awarded a score of 98 points in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, making it one of the highest-scoring California Pinot Noirs ever reviewed.