The Talty story starts years ago with Michael’s father, William Talty. He was the first to introduce Michael to the beautiful Dry Creek Valley, and it was with him that Michael first learned about wine. Several years later, Michael decided to give winemaking a try, and before long a whole operation was underway in his garage in San Jose that would last the better part of 15 years. After his father asked him to make a Dry Creek Zinfandel, his favorite style of wine, Michael began looking for grapes, an unsuccessful venture that led he and his father on the hunt for a vineyard to buy instead. Unfortunately, they were unable to make their dream come true before William’s unexpected death in 1993. Using this as inspiration, Michael was determined to fulfill this dream, and began looking for property in the Dry Creek Valley, finally finding the perfect place to grow grapes and memorialize his father in the process. In April of 1997, he purchased a small six-acre vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, where he still currently resides, appropriately named in honor of Michael’s dad. The first commercial vintage released to the public was in 2003, which was the 2001 William Talty Estate Zinfandel. Now, with nearly 40 years of winemaking under his belt, Michael continues making high quality Zinfandel from this unique vineyard with the same passion he’s had since the beginning.
The Dry Creek Valley Appellation is renowned for its exceptional Zinfandels because of its unique combination of climate, location and soil composition. Hot days and cool nights, coupled with a long growing season allow the fruit to reach optimal ripeness. Many of the older Zinfandel vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley were planted by Italian immigrants using a field blend technique to produce a more tannin structured wine. The classic Italian field blend is a combination of Petite Sirah and Carignane planted amongst the Zinfandel vines. The William Talty Estate vineyard, 58 years young, reflects this tradition with 7% Petite Sirah and 3% Carignane, which are never separated from the Zinfandel in the vineyard or the cellar. We prune our vines to purposely produce a very small crop, approximately two tons per acre, which, combined with dry farming, ensures the intensity and concentration of the fruit from the very start. The rest of the season is spent limiting our crop even further through suckering and removing side clusters (known as “wings” or “shoulders”) and managing the canopy of each individual vine to ensure good air flow and protect the grapes from the sun. Much time and care is put into this vineyard, Michael doing most of the work himself to help the vines struggle in the healthiest way possible to produce the highest quality fruit. As Michael’s mother said, “Grapes are like people, they have to suffer a little to develop character.”
The Talty winemaking philosophy is simple: wine is made in the vineyard. We vineyard designate each of our Zinfandel because our goal is to exemplify what the land has to offer us, and how it varies from year to year. Once picked, our grapes are fermented by their own natural yeast in small, open-top bins. These bins are punched down four times per day for the best flavor and color extraction possible. The wines are then barrel aged for a year, bottled, then aged for an additional year in the bottle.
You will find an identifiable thread that runs through all of Michael’s wines as they possess an exceptional balance between rich flavor, structure, acidity, and alcohol. These age-able Zinfandels peak at 5-7 years after bottling and will provide you with a remarkable silky and smooth reward for your patience. However, for those of you that can’t wait, they are equally as enjoyable when released.
Our philosophy is to make one wine and do it well. Zin, Just Zin!