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.
Paso Robles AVA is midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and it is considered one of the West Coast’s most exciting winemaking regions. With its hot, sometimes searingly dry and sunny weather, it is especially good country for growing warm climate grapes such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Because many Paso Robles wineries have been successful with blending these grapes into Rhone Valley-style wines, it is known as the Rhone zone of California. The AVA was created in 1983 and there are 32,000 vineyard acres. In late 2014 the AVA was divided into 11 smaller sub-appellations, so starting with 2015 vintages labeling will become more specific on Paso Robles wines, which will now also list sub-appellations. Located in San Luis Obispo County, Paso Robles, the town and its surrounding area, was traditionally a farming and ranching region. But from a few dozen wineries in the early 1990s to more than 200 today, the area is quickly becoming known for wine and risk-taking winemakers.
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.