A wine weekend on the Central Coast has to include a visit to the zenith of Zin, Turley Wine Cellars in Templeton at the old Pesenti vineyards on – where else – Vineyard Drive. Larry Turley, a physician by trade, founded Turley Wine Cellars in 1993 in Napa Valley based on the idea of preserving California’s oldest vineyards and demonstrating what great wines they are capable of producing. With early rave reviews and a rabid mailing list following, Turley, with a reputation for rich and expressive wines from nearly-forgotten and overlooked vineyards, suddenly catapulted forward to become a rock star producer of Zinfandel.
A lot of Zinfandel fans and wine reviewers would say that after Turley took the Zin-world by storm in 1993 that they set a new reference point for Zinfandel from historic vineyards. Today, three Turley wineries (Napa Valley, Amador, and Templeton), under the direction of head winemaker Tegan Passalaqua, produce 50 wines, mainly Zinfandel, from 50 different vineyards – most of them quirky, individually unique and requiring specialized care. That’s some serious Zinfandel sourcing, coddling, and nurturing!
Karl Wicka is Turley’s resident winemaker in Templeton, where historic vineyards abound and speak from the days before Prohibition in Zinfandel’s golden era. Turley’s Paso Robles repertoire includes the Ueberroth, Dusi, Amadeo, and Pesenti Vineyards and the indoor/outdoor hospitality area includes a tasting room, tasting bar, and patio where you can do friendly, informative tastings of a selection of current wines. Many of Turley’s vineyard designated wines sell out quickly and if you are or are becoming a Zinfandel fan, this is a mailing list that you want to be on.
Note that Turley’s tastings are offered at the Amador and Paso Robles wineries only and the Napa Valley winery is not open to the public.