On the Trail

Emerging Edna Valley

David Driscoll
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Just south of San Luis Obispo, along California's Central Coast, sits one of the state's most charming and humble wine-growing AVAs: the Edna Valley, home to dozens of small producers that make wonderful wines among the rolling hills of the region. Free from much of the pretense and pageantry that often exists in some of California's more profitable winemaking locales, there's a lot to love about the fresh and affordably-priced expressions coming out of Edna right now, which is exactly why we've forged direct relationships with some of SLO's best family-run estates and begun a partnership program of co-sponsored cuvées. For the third year in a row, we've worked out another K&L edition of Edna Valley Chardonnay with Talley Vineyards, a producer renowned for its Burgundian mindset of terroir-focused winemaking from each of its six different vineyard sites. Originally founded as a family farm in 1948, Talley has been making wine since 1986 when Don and Rosemary Talley offically established the winery. Today, with its facility at the foot of the Rincon Vineyard, Talley is one of the most exciting producers of Chardonnay in the state, making clean and vibrant expressions from holdings all along the coastline. 


Talley's commitment to "Burgundian winemaking" stems not only from admiration for the Côte d'Or, but also a shared similarity of climate. The cool and slightly foggy conditions of Edna valley, with the chill of the ocean breeze coming through the hills, creates the perfect setting for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They make wines with acidity and drive, reaching maximum ripeness while maintaining a zippy and refreshing crispness from front to back. At the same time, however, there's a richness and sense of weight from just the right amount of oak maturation, not unlike a fine Chassagne-Montrachet. Our latest collaboration with Talley, the 2016 K&L Edna Valley Chardonnay, displays that Burgundian character beautifully, weaving lemon zest and apple notes between toastier elements and the richness that they impart. Put together for us by Brian Talley, the wine is indicative of everything we love right now about the wines from Edna Valley and the Central Coast: quality, value, volume, and drinkability. At $22 a bottle, the wine delivers supreme complexity for the money, but it doesn't skimp on charm either. In tasting the wine again this morning, I'm imagining everything I love about the San Luis Obispo area with each sip: the setting, the relaxed environment, the down-to-earth mentality, and the commitment to enjoying life's simple pleasures.

With prices for some of our favorite Napa, Somona, and Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnays now hovering between $35 to $50 a bottle, expect to see more from Edna Valley at K&L in 2018. And find a weekend to get down there yourself! You'll undoubtedly come back with a complete understanding for our current admiration. 

-David Driscoll