Every wine region of the world has its big hitters, those grape varietals that make it special. Spain’s Rioja has its Tempranillo, Tuscany has Sangiovese, Australia its Shiraz. California is perhaps best known around the world for two main varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon, for those big, bold flavors, and Zinfandel, for something a little more accessible and fun. The winery of Turley, and the associated Turley Wine Cellars is a Zinfandel specialist, and was partly responsible for bringing the often somewhat derided grape varietal back into fashion.
Turley Wine Cellars was founded by Larry Turley in 1993, a man who was truly up for a new challenge after years working as an emergency doctor. He looked to the uprooted and abandoned pre-prohibition vineyards in Napa Valley, which had been growing Zinfandel grapes at the beginning of the 20th century, and decided to set about restoring the land for a new crop. Turley Wine’s Zinfandel new vines were sourced from some of the finest California appellations, including the Hayne Vineyard and Moore Earthquake vineyard, both of which had a history which stretched back over a hundred years and matched Larry Turley’s antique vineyards which he was bringing back to life. Today, the Napa vineyards that Turley uses make up about fifty percent of his overall production. Thanks to the success of the winery, they have since expanded, and have vineyards in Sonoma and Contra Costa under long-term leases, in which they grow their signature Zinfandel grapes alongside Petite Sirah and a set of white grapes with which they produce a typical Rhone Valley blend.
The old vines that Turley uses are the key to his success. They produce fruit of great intensity and concentration, with layers of flavor that also express many of the features of the terroir with their minerality and acidity. These wonderful vines, coupled with a groundbreaking set of techniques and a bold attitude to a grape varietal which has received some bad press in recent years, has seen Turley Wine Cellars go from strength to strength.