Turley Wine Cellars: Defining California Zinfandel
© Rattlesnake Ridge

Turley Wine Cellars: Defining California Zinfandel

“I can count the number of cult Zinfandels on one hand and still have a few digits left over. Turley was the original and remains among the best.” Tim Fish, Wine Spectator
Turley Wine Cellars

© Turley Wine Cellars

It’s not often in the wine industry that we talk about single producers defining an entire category. But with Turley Wine Cellars, we get to do just that. Founded in 1993, Turley has helped establish the hugely popular modern California Zinfandel style characterized by its plush mouthfeel and complex fruit. Today Turley produces over 30 wines, predominately single vineyard designated old vine Zinfandel and Petit Sirah, from 35 distinct vineyards.  Most of the vines date to the late 1800s and early 1900s. All of the vineyards are certified organic or are undergoing the certification process. Seeking to create and preserve California’s unique winemaking culture only natural yeasts are used in the various cellars, each located close to the key vineyard regions to preserve the heritage of the grapes.

Larry Turley

©Larry Turley

The product of one man’s passion, Turley Wine Cellars is driven by the energy and personality of founder Larry Turley. Brother to the famed winemaker Helen Turley, Larry is a force in the California wine industry in his own right. Born in Tennessee and raised in Georgia, Larry first moved to California as an Emergency Room physician. But a chance encounter with John Williams in the 1970’s would prove a fortuitous moment for wine lovers everywhere when the pair went on to found Frog’s Leap Winery in 1981. Finding a deep abiding passion for the classic California varietals of Zinfandel and Petit Sirah and seeking an opportunity for a smaller, more focused project Larry amicably parted ways with John in 1993, selling his shares in Frog’s Leap and starting Turley Wine Cellars. Believing that older vines offer more character and better natural balance, Larry focused his attention on older vineyards. With his ‘no holds barred’ approach the Turley wines are big and bold but focused with an astonishing depth of character and concentration.

The Wines of Turley Wine Cellars

  • Juvenile Zinfandel 2013
  • Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel 2012
  • Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel 2013
94 Points, Robert Parker. “Deep ruby/purple, with oodles of black cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant fruit as well as some pepper and spice, the wine is plump, full-bodied, sexy and delicious. Sporting 15.5% natural alcohol, this is a lusty, extroverted Zinfandel that has been brilliantly put together by the Turley winemaking crew.”

Called a “Cult Zin at a Value Price” by Wine Spectator the Juvenile Zinfandel is produced from vines aged 6-25 years from 15 different vineyard sites. Most of these vines are found interspersed with the ancient vines of their primary vineyards. As vines die or need replacing they are replanted, tagged for use in the Juvenile blend and harvested independently.

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90 Points, Wine Spectator. “Sleek and jammy, with a lively center of crisp, fresh cherry fruit and ripe tannins. Offers notes of fresh sage and rosemary, plus smoky pepper and mineral details.”

Owned and farmed by winemaker Tegan Passalacqua, the vines of the Kirschnmann Vineyard were planted in 1915 in the Mokelumne River AVA. Thanks to the river’s cool water and the delta breezes these vines are protected from the heat and thus provide gorgeously aromatic wines that are middle-weight on the palate with well-integrated fine-grained tannins.

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92 Points, Robert Parker. “The 2013 Zinfandel Kirschenmann Vineyard (15.2% alcohol) is yet another Turley offering that wants to transport the taster to the Southern Rhône Valley of France. Yet it is more than the powers of suggestion that the aromas of raspberry, kirsch liqueur, earth, spice and pepper are all present in this wine, made from head-pruned, ungrafted vines. This is a juicy, up-front, full-bodied yet elegant Zinfandel to drink over the next 5-6 years.”

Owned and farmed by winemaker Tegan Passalacqua, the vines of the Kirschnmann Vineyard were planted in 1915 in the Mokelumne River AVA. Thanks to the river’s cool water and the delta breezes these vines are protected from the heat and thus provide gorgeously aromatic wines that are middle-weight on the palate with well-integrated fine-grained tannins.

Add to your collection

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