Napa-based Turley Wine Cellars is expanding its presence in the state’s historic gold country, purchasing Karly Wines, a small Amador County producer that focuses on Zinfandel. The sale includes the winery, the Karly brand and a 70-acre property in Shenandoah Valley, with 5 acres planted to vines. The sale price was not disclosed.
Turley’s winemaker, Ehren Jordan, told Wine Spectator that the owners bought the winery for its production facility. He said Turley has been buying grapes from Amador County since 1996 and needed a new home for its Lodi Zinfandel and a soon-to-be-released Amador-designated wine that was closer to the vineyards. The Turley family also wants to shrink operations at their St. Helena property, which doubles as their home. “It serves the purpose of lightening the load at the winery in St. Helena without necessarily cutting production, and accommodates the family’s desire to not have a winery in the front yard,” said Jordan.
The winery will consider its options for the Karly label after it moves its operations. Karly founder Buck Cobb and his wife, Karly, planted Primitivo as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Rhône varieties on the parcel that was included in the sale. Turley doesn’t plan to introduce different grapes to its lineup but it may keep the existing label. “If we continue to bottle those wines we might continue with the Karly label,” Jordan said. The winery is also considering replanting the vineyard to Zinfandel.
As part of the deal the Cobbs will retain 15 acres of grapes nearby and will sell their Zinfandel to Turley. The couple put the winery on the market because they were looking to retire from the production side of the business and neither of their two sons wanted to take over. Buck Cobb said he had several offers but decided to sell to Turley because of its reputation. “I’ve worked my butt off and spent a lot of money on our vineyards, and they will certainly do justice to our grapes,” he said.
The Cobb family has been in the wine business in Amador for 32 years. Buck, a former fighter pilot who flew in the Korean War, started the Karly winery from scratch, naming it after his wife. The couple spent nearly three years clearing their land and crushed their first grapes in 1980. They produced around 6,000 cases of wine a year with a focus on Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc but had become increasingly interested in Rhône grapes.
Larry Turley founded Turley Wine Cellars in 1993 after selling his stake in Frog’s Leap Winery in Napa. Since then the winery has built a devoted fan base for its Zinfandels. The winery focuses on old-vine vineyards for its Zinfandel and Petite Sirahs and uses grapes from throughout California. Turley currently produces a range of single-vineyard wines and regional blends from its wineries in St. Helena in Napa and Templeton in the Central Coast.