Talbott Vineyards is a premier producer of excellent Monterey County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown on estate vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands. This AVA is known primarily for those two varietals and provides premium fruit to local producers and to wine makers throughout California (example: 2014 Belle Glos Pinot Noir – Las Alturas from Napa Valley’s Wagner family, known mostly for their Caymus label). Soils in area vineyards range from chalky shale to gravelly loam that result in typically low yield harvests with highly concentrated fruit. Variations in elevation along the coastal hills and exposure to fog and ocean breezes further influence the style of wines produced by Talbott Vineyards and other wineries in the area.
Talbott Vineyards winery is located on the River Road Wine Trail, Monterey County’s equivalent to Napa’s Silverado Trail or Highway 12 through Sonoma County. Take River Road south off Highway 68 on the southwest outskirts of Salinas (download a PDF of the map shown below: Monterey County River Road Wine Trail Map). You’ll pass fields with crops other than vineyards until south of Chualar River Road, but by the time you reach the Talbott Vineyards tasting room you’ll be surrounded by vineyards.
Talbott offers a standard tasting flight of wines that can be purchased in retail or a premier flight available only through their wine club or at the tasting room. I tried the premier flight of three Chardonnays and three Pinot Noirs, all of which were very good and priced around $50 to $80. I took home the 2012 Talbott Vineyard Diamond T Vineyard Chardonnay, sourced from the first vineyard planted by proprietor Robb Talbott in 1982. The Diamond T vineyard is at 1,200 feet elevation and receives the full climactic effects of the nearby ocean. The rocky ground comes through in the wine, producing a pleasant balance of rich fruit with a hint of minerality. I’d recommend any of the wines – and a visit to the tasting room. Many of the wineries on the Trail have tasting rooms in the village in Carmel Valley, but getting out of town and visiting the wineries is always a lot more fun.
Does the Talbott name sound familiar? Robert Talbott, Robb’s father, opened his iconic luxury tie production facility in Monterey in 1950.
Talbott Vineyards 1380 River Road, Salinas, CA 93908
Winery tasting room open Saturdays only, 11am to 5pm
If you can’t make it out to the winery, stop by the Talbott Vineyards Carmel Valley Village Tasting Room: 25 Pilot Road, Carmel Valley, CA 93924. Open daily (except holidays) 11am to 5pm.