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.
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,
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.