Turley Wine Cellars has wineries in St. Helena, in the Napa Valley, and in Templeton, in the Paso Robles area of California’s Central Coast. Founded in 1993 by Larry Turley, Turley Wine Cellars is known for robust and well-rated Zinfandels. Turley is the brother of Helen Turley, one of California’s most legendary winemakers, and she consulted for him until the mid-1990s. Now the winemaker is Tegan Passalacqua, who worked under legendary Ehren Jordan before Jordan left for other pursuits. Turley has a talent for finding young winemakers on the verge of fame. He also gave Thomas Rivers Brown his first job. Larry Turley co-founded Frog’s Leap Winery in 1981 but sold his interest in Frog’s Leap to start his own estate. Robert M. Parker Jr. has called Larry Turley “the world’s premier Zinfandel specialist…he built Turley Wine Cellars into a showcase for the fruit, power and intensity of Zinfandel.” There are generally waits of several years to get on the mailing list to acquire Turley Zinfandels.
Howell Mountain AVA in Northeastern Napa Valley was the first of Napa Valley’s sub-appellations, earning its own designation in 1984, just a year after Napa Valley became an appellation. As the name suggests, the AVA is in one of the highest elevations in the area. Every vineyard in the appellation is at least 1,400 feet above sea level. Some vineyards are as high as 2,200 feet and because of their altitude most of the AVA’s vineyards receive more sun than vineyards at lower elevations, which are affected by fog from the Pacific Ocean and the San Pablo Bay. Howell Mountain was home to vineyards in the late 19th century, but winemaker Randy Dunn is considered the area’s most influential modern pioneer. Dunn moved to Howell Mountain in 1979, acquired property and began making exceptionally rich Cabernet Sauvignon. The AVA also grows Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. There are 600 vineyard acres within Howell Mountain AVA.
Zinfandel is a black-skinned grape, but 85% of the wine produced is made into a rosy “White Zinfandel.” Red Zin is far more complex and bold, while still being light-bodied. It grows in popularity as winemakers continue to experiment with new styles and blends.