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Talbott Vineyards guests enjoying wine and cheese

Talbott Vineyards Wows with Estate-Grown Wines and Welcoming Tastings

By Published On: August 21st, 2023

A Star of the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Talbott Vineyards is one of the Central Coast’s marquee wineries, well-known for making excellent estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Inspired by the wines of Burgundy, Talbott centers around one estate vineyard, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, one of the first vineyards planted in the Santa Lucia Highlands. 

Talbott Vineyards Sleepy Hollow Vineyard site.
Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

Today, winemaker Kamee Knutson is at the heart of everything Talbott stands for, working hand-in-hand with vineyard manager Herb Rowland to produce wines of great elegance, purity and quality from this renowned region of California.

Talbott Vineyards Winemaker Kamee Knutson.
Winemaker Kamee Knutson. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

Tasting the Wines at Talbott Vineyards

In 2020, Talbott opened a tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea (East side of Lincoln St. between 5th and 6th Ave.), a coastal-inspired space with seated and standing tastings, and outdoor patio seating. Peek from the windows and you might see the sea. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., reservations are required.

Talbott Vineyards Tasting Room located interior.
Tasting Room located in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

The Signature Flight ($40) features five estate-grown wines, while the Legacy Flight ($50) begins with a splash of sparkling followed by a flight of five wines paired with cheese. 

The Sleepy Hollow Winery Experience is a member-exclusive, immersive tour of Talbott’s iconic site in the Santa Lucia Highlands, followed by a tasting flight with food pairing, offered Friday and Saturday.

The Wines of Talbott Vineyards

Talbott Vineyards specializes in cool-climate, estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and also produces a Sparkling Brut and Rosé of Pinot Noir.

Of the Sparkling Brut, “A soft, luscious mouthfeel leads to layers of bright lemon curd and baked green apple and notes of honey-drizzled persimmon and finishes with just a hint of richness and toffee.” 

The 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir “offers a bouquet of ripe strawberry, hints of peach and an enticing star fruit citrus note.”

Talbott Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir and Sparkling Brut.
Rosé of Pinot Noir and Sparkling Brut. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

Talbott’s 2021 Fidelity Chardonnay is the pinnacle of its portfolio, where “the mouthfeel is decadent and creamy, leading to a long finish.”

The 2021 Block 50 South Chardonnay is from a single block, “silky soft with bright accents of lychee, sliced pear and vanilla bean that carry through on a long, lingering finish.”

Another single-block of Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, 2021 Block 4 North Chardonnay “radiates aromas of poached pear and French apple tart… intricately textured with juicy layers of sliced pear, dried jasmine and butterscotch.”

The 2022 Luminous Chardonnay is “A light-bodied, buoyant wine… the palate bright and brisk, with hints of salinity on a clean, crisp finish.”

Talbott Vineyards Luminous Chardonnay wine.
Luminous Chardonnay. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

Talbott’s 2021 Block 51 South Pinot Noir opens with “Bright notes of fruit with an underlayer of earthy spice… the mouthfeel decadent and round with plump notes of raspberry and dark cherry wrapped with rich layers of butterscotch and toasted oak.”

The 2021 Block 22 West Pinot Noir has “Delicate aromas of cherry blossom and dried violet… leading to a silky but structured mouthfeel.”

Fidelity 2021 Pinot Noir pays homage to the Talbott family motto Touts Jours Fidele – “always faithful.” It presents “a complex nose with hints of bergamot and plum leading to a palate layered with blackberry and wild blueberry compote.”

Talbott Vineyards guests wine tasting.
Guests wine tasting. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

The History of Talbott Vineyards 

Robert and Audrey Talbott first moved to Carmel, California in 1950 to start a luxury tie business. Frequent trips to Europe buying silk introduced them to the great wines of the world and they soon began to dream of making Burgundian-inspired wines in California.

The Talbotts’ son, Robb, launched Talbott Vineyards in 1982 with the planting of Diamond T Vineyard in Carmel Valley, a 14-acre, tightly spaced vineyard at 1,200-feet-elevation hand-planted originally to the Corton-Charlemagne clone of Chardonnay. Only 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Diamond T is low-yielding, with a moderating marine influence and long growing season. 

Talbott opened a tasting room in Carmel Valley in 1989 with wines from Diamond T and Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, from which they were buying grapes at the time.

Talbott Vineyards tasting room exterior.
Tasting Room located in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

In 1991, Robb Talbott helped establish the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, recognizing its exceptional growing conditions for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

In 1994 the Talbotts were able to buy Sleepy Hollow, a legendary 525-acre site in the Santa Lucia Highlands whose vines were first planted in 1972, on a benchland 21 miles south of Monterey Bay, the second most-northern vineyard in the AVA. 

Talbott Vineyards grapevines at sunset.
Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

With the acquisition of Sleepy Hollow, Talbott became an all-estate winery. The vineyard is divided into Sleepy Hollow North, West and South and is comprised entirely of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

In 2015, Talbott was acquired by E.&J. Gallo Winery, with Robb Talbott saying, “They represent the same commitment to quality that has been part of our heritage since the beginning.”

 Talbott Vineyards Pinot Noir wine.
Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir. Photo Courtesy: Talbott Vineyards.

Final Thoughts

Talbott is among the finest producers of Santa Lucia Highlands wines and is a Certified California Sustainable Winery and Vineyard. Great wines made by great people, their bottlings are elegant and age-worthy, with a visiting experience that’s immersive and welcoming.

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