Looking for the gold standard in the gold country? 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 and individually unique and requiring specialized care. That’s some serious Zinfandel sourcing, coddling, and nurturing!
Because of his extensive experience working with so many historic vineyards across the state, Tegan has become known not only as a Zinfandel maestro, but also a historian for California Zinfandel’s rich and colorful growing tradition that goes way back to the Gold Rush days. Turley’s Amador repertoire includes the Judge Bell, Rinaldi, and Deaver vineyards and a tasting at the Amador winery may include wines from outside Amador as well, depending on availability. Many of Turley’s vineyard designated wines sell out quickly and if you are already or are becoming a Zinfandel fan, this is a producer that you want to visit and a mailing list that you want to be on!
Note that tastings are offered at the Amador and Paso Robles wineries only and the Napa Valley winery is not open to the public.