Zinfandel lovers won't be happy to hear that winemaker Ehren Jordan has left Turley Wine Cellars after 18 years, but if you've followed Jordan and the impressive work he has done at his own winery, Failla, it should come as no surprise.
"Most people think Helen is still making the wine anyway," Jordan laughed, referring to Turley's short-tenured first winemaker, Helen Turley, the sister of owner Larry Turley.
In the past two decades, Jordan and Larry Turley together crafted what I think are some of California's most impressive and iconic Zinfandels. You'll find Turley wines on the best restaurant wine lists in the country. They are full-flavored, powerful yet refined, and express the distinctive character of Zin and the classic old vineyards from which they come, like Hayne in Napa Valley, Ueberroth in Paso Robles and Dogtown in Lodi.
Jordan, who was also Turley's general manager, said the decision to leave wasn't easy, but it was something he had considered for some time. Jordan and his wife, Anne-Marie Failla, launched Failla in 1998 and focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The brand has grown enough, and considering the surprisingly large size of the 2012 crop, Jordan said, "It was obvious that Failla is a full-time job."
The timing was also right. Jordan's winemaking team at Turley is well-seasoned, and his right-hand man, Tegan Passalacqua, has been doing much of the heavy lifting for a while. Christina Turley, the eldest of Larry's three daughters, made a name for herself as wine director for star chef David Chang's Momofuku restaurants in New York. Since moving back to California two years ago, the 28-year-old has taken on many of the marketing and business duties.
Jordan and Turley remain friends. "I told him if he needs me, I'm only a phone call away."