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Turley Wine Cellars was founded in Napa Valley by former emergency room physician Larry Turley in 1993. Under the direction of winemaker Tegan Passalacqua, Turley now makes 50 different wines from over 50 vineyards across California, primarily Zinfandel and Petite Syrah, with many vines dating back to the late 1800s. By farming organically and focusing on old vine vineyards of these varieties, Turley aims to both create and preserve California’s unique winemaking culture.

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Turley Wine Cellars makes thirty-four wines, the vast majority of which are single vineyard designate Zinfandels and Petite Syrahs. By focusing on old vine vineyards in particular, Turley aims to both create and preserve California’s unique winemaking culture. All of our vineyards are either certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers or somewhere in the process, and we use all natural yeasts in the fermentations.

Ueberroth is one of the oldest of our Zinfandel vineyards. Located just a few miles northwest of Pesenti, you can smell the Pacific Ocean air from the top of the vineyard hill. These ungrafted, head-trained vines are planted on very steep limestone slopes. The high pH of the soil makes for a very high-acid wine, elevating the ripe fruit flavors from this historic certified organic vineyard. 


Being that the vineyard lies a mere 8 miles from the coast, the Willow Creek District of the Paso Robles AVA experiences a Mediterranean-style climate with warm days and cold nights. In fact, Paso Robles has some of the most extreme temperature swings of any grape-growing region. The result: simply exciting wines. 

For a vineyard planted in 1922, changing the orientation of a block to capture the most sun exposure was revolutionary for its time period. This creates various ripening rates for the grapes and numerous pick days during harvest. Thanks to Frank Pesenti's innovation, the resulting wines are a true benchmark for a perfectly balanced Zinfandel from Paso Robles.

Paso winemaker, Karl Wicka, produces four wines from the Pesenti Vineyard: Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Tecolote (Grenache/Carignane), and Grenache Blanc (White Coat). With the calcaerous limestone and the occasional carignane vine interplanted with Zinfandel, the Pesenti Zin takes on a unique brightness leading to a "sweet-tart-esque" character. Like we said, exciting wines. The Petite Syrah vines were planted from cuttings hailing from the Hayne Vineyard in St. Helena. The wine it produces maintains the structural integrity of a well-built Petite Syrah all the while bringing in approachable vibrancy to the glass, even in its youth. The Tecolote (meaning Owl in Spanish) is comprised of old vine Grenache and Carignane and totals only 5 barrels. Finally, the Grenache Blanc is Paso's contribution to the adored White Coat. 

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Inside information

Old Vines is composed of a variety of old sites from California that are either too small to be made into a vineyard designate wine or are “new” to the Turley family (and way of farming). Vines are anywhere from 41 to 129 years old, and a true representation of California old vine Zinfandel, hailing from vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lodi, Contra Costa, Amador and Paso Robles.

We began the Turley “Old Vine” cuvée twenty years ago, in 2000, and it remains one of the most important wines we make today. The story of this wine is the story of Turley Wine Cellars itself.

            After two decades as an emergency room physician, Larry Turley developed a passion for restoration, rejuvenation, and yes, resuscitation. Where others might see decay, decrepitude and neglect, Larry looked beyond, finding instead health, history, and potential. This passion has translated directly into his strong affinity towards old vine vineyards across California, sites that were often neglected in favor of their younger, more vigorous and less troublesome brethren. Some had been abandoned altogether, ripped out for developments or replaced with more lucrative crops. Turley, alongside longtime Vineyard Manager (and now Director of Winemaking) Tegan Passalacqua, is devoted to saving these old vineyards, reinvigorating them through organic farming practices and preserving them in the ground for generations to come.

Why are old vines superior?

            In addition to their cultural significance, old vines produce a naturally more complex, balanced, and sustainable wine. Young vines tend to be vigorous and high yielding for a short period of time (16-20 years) before most wineries rip them up and replant, to keep yields at a maximum; think of the brief but intense career of an NFL player. Young modern vineyards are also almost always irrigated, which keeps the yields high and the root systems shallow, but can (in our opinion) dilute the quality and integrity of the final wine.

            An old vine, on the other hand, naturally regulates its yields, focusing all of the vine’s energy into a more finite—and ultimately more concentrated—final wine. Furthermore, these vines are dry-farmed, meaning they survive only on the natural rainfall patterns and water tables of their respective micro-climates. Finally, they are more deeply rooted in the soils, reaching down over 40 feet into the earth in some cases. For these reasons, we believe the final wines produced by truly old vines are the truest representations of their respective terroirs.

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17 different wines with 35 vintages


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Wine Moments

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 Erin Brooks, Pro (United States)  tasted  7 wines  from  Turley Wine Cellars . In a tasting of  26 wines 

The 2019 Pinot Noir Wild Thyme Vineyard, medium ruby-purple in color, offers up scents of licorice, dried orange peel, amaro, dusty earth and loads of floral perfume. Medium-bodied, it has expansive berry fruits and loads of exotic spices, anchored by a grainy texture and finishing very long and seamlessly fresh. Give it another couple years in bottle. 167 cases produced. 96 points

26d 10h ago

 Michel Jamais, Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  1 wines  from  Turley Wine Cellars . In a tasting of  10 wines 

“Continuum 2008 / This is a blend of 71 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 17 percent Cabernet and small portions of Petit Verdot and Merlot. In this vintage, some 70 percent of the fruits comes from the estate vineyards – so for the first time since the inaugural vintage (2005) we are able to get a pretaste on what eventually will be one of the finest wines in the valley (or more accurate, above the valley). When the vineyards are mature, the blend will most likely consist of around 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and a greater proportion of Cabernet Franc Franc (which thrives in the reddish volcanic soil here).
Without doubts, Tim Mondavi is a great winemaker. Small yields, a strict selection of grapes, a few days of cold soak to enhance the flavors and reduce the amount of bitterness from the skins and seeds, and then a natural fermentation with a cuvaison of around 30-35 days. Then the wine is transferred into brand new French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and around 20 months of ageing. The result is stunning!
Color is very dark, purple and almost opaque. Already above the glass, the aromas are rich and very intense, loaded with cassis and dark cherries, with a note reminiscent of violets, and in the background there’s a very complex addition of the stony soil (it’s just like someone stood outside the window, and hammers on rocks). That stony quality will follow on the palate, and in combination with the lively acidity it creates an energy that’s just amazing. It’s like the wine dances on your tongue. I can’t help falling for this – in all possible ways the wine speaks of its origin, and Tim Mondavi have just added his skills to steward that, without interfering. This is a wine of true terroir!Although there’s enough sweetness from the ripe fruit to be charming, there’s also a firm and very serious tannic structure not to be ignored. I’d recommend an hour or two in the decanter, or even a few more years in the cellar before you pop the cork. A not to daring guess is that this wine will into something extremely complex and Bordeaux like with ageing.
Style wise I’d call this a neo-classic wine. It offers everything you like from Napa Valley, without being over the top or to ripe or alcoholic. By the way, I didn’t even think about the alcohol when I tasted the wine. Almost 2 000 cases were made – still the wine is hard to find. But it’s well worth trying ...”

5y 2m ago

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