Don Talley, the founder of Talley Vineyards and one of the modern pioneers of fine wine in San Luis Obispo County, died December 2 from complications from a heart transplant. He was 67.
A third-generation Californian, Talley ran the vegetable farming operation in Arroyo Grande Valley that his father, Oliver, had founded in 1948. Beginning in 1982, he installed vineyards, one of the first in the area to do so. His son, Brian, recalled why. “There was this hill, and Dad said, ‘Gee, we can’t grow vegetables on those hillsides, what should we be doing there?’ So he started thinking about growing grapes.”
Although the Cabernet Sauvignon he planted didn’t do well, because of the region’s cool climate, other varieties eventually thrived. In 1986, Talley founded Talley Vineyards, which now is known as one of the best producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California.
Talley is survived by his wife, Rosemary, and their son, Brian. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Marianne. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Talley’s name to the Marianne Talley Foundation, P.O. Box 360, Arroyo Grande, CA 93421 or the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers c/o the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation, 1401 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.
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