Two wineries with tasting rooms in San Luis Obispo County have been named to Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 wines list: Turley Wine Cellars of St. Helena, ranked 17, and Booker Vineyard of Paso Robles, ranked 68.
Each year, magazine editors survey the wines reviewed over the previous 12 months and select the Top 100 based on quality, value, availability and excitement.
Turley Wine Cellars’ 2013 Rattlesnake Ridge petite syrah from a vineyard in Howell Mountain on the northeastern ridge of Napa Valley, was given a score of 95. Turley Wine Cellars, based in St. Helena in Napa County, has tasting rooms in Templeton and Amador County.
Both wineries have seen increased visitors since the list was issued.
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Malani Anderson, tasting room manager in Templeton, said that the Top 100 list drew the attention of customers previously unaware of Turley Wine Cellars. The petite syrah recognized was a very small production wine — only 475 cases were made, all of which quickly sold out.
Turley Wine Cellars produces about 40,000 cases of wine a year. Anderson said that about 60 percent of the wine is sold through the company’s mailing list, about 30 percent is distributed (mostly to restaurants and small shops), and about 10 percent is saved for the tasting rooms.
Booker Vineyard’s 2013 syrah, Fracture was given a score of 94. The wine is made from grapes grown in its local vineyards.
Wine Spectator called the syrah bold and flamboyant, praising it for its balance and focus — with floral aromas of boysenberry, raspberry and roasted coffee open to rich, complex flavors that focused on licorice, smoky pepper beef and loamy mineral.
Owner and winemaker Eric Jensen said that while the winery is thankful to be named, it doesn’t put a large emphasis on critics’ assessments.
“We don’t ever take it (awards and honors) for granted. We try to keep very even-keeled about it ... it’s such a subjective business,” Jensen said. “We set our own standard and know where we want to be.” Jensen said he places a larger significance on customer feedback. “We get most excited about selling out during a release ... the consumers are speaking, not the critics.”
However, the winery has seen an influx of business via its wine club since being named on the list, General Manager Chelsea O’Grady said. The wine club, which consists of about 5,000 members, comprises the majority of the winery’s business. Booker Vineyard’s tasting room is open Friday through Sunday by appointment only.
Booker Vineyard made about 1,000 cases of the wine, which sold out upon release in early October at $85 a bottle.
The winery typically produces about 4,500 cases a year. O’Grady said it may experience a dip in production in coming years because of the drought.
Most of Booker Vineyard’s wines sell out upon release, Jensen said. Some of the wine is held for use in the tasting room and about 5 percent is kept for distribution to restaurants, hotels and small shops.
Danielle Ames: 805-781-7902