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.
Sierra Foothills AVA is in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it includes parts of eight counties. With total acreage of 2.6 million acres, and nearly 6,000 vineyard acres, it is one of the largest appellations in California. Wine grapes were planted in the foothills during the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century and the appellation was officially recognized in 1987. There are five sub-appellations within the Sierra Foothills region, and more than 100 wineries, most small and family-owned. Zinfandel is the most successful wine grape in this region, though Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are also planted.
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.