A former classmate of mine returned to our hometown or Orcutt and took a little trip down to Lompoc to give Turiya a taste. Check out this novelist and wine writer Becca Gomez Farrell's tasting exploration and shout out to the ERHS Class of '98.Read More
By Dennis Schaefer
Santa Barbara News Press - Dec. 14, 2017
Vintner Angela Soleno already had a passion for wine, but a project manager job at Consilience Wines in 2002 fueled her desire. And while that was good on-the-job training, she made it more formal by taking viticulture and enology courses at Allan Hancock College. By 2008, she had established her own label, Turiya, making wines at the Central Coast Wine Services co-op in Santa Maria, a hotbed of new and established winemakers who were happy to share wine production info and other tips.
Ms. Soleno is probably one of the smallest commercial producers in the county: Every bottling is fewer than 100 cases (that's maybe three or four barrels of each wine). That makes her endeavor a hands-on, small-batch, ultra-premium, boutique winery. She specializes in red Bordeaux-style blends but also likes to throw sangiovese in the mix, so that would qualify as an Italian super-Tuscan style (blends of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sangiovese). But classifications like that seem irrelevant; she just wants to make the best wine she can from the vineyards she sources from in Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles. She generally ages the wines for 44 months, 25 percent in new French oak barrels, and then for another 12 months in the bottle before releasing them.
The packaging is stunningly beautiful: These high-end bottles are screen-printed in 24-karat gold, hand-bottled, hand-waxed and then signed by the winemaker. If you are looking for an impressive holiday gift for family and friends, these bottlings are striking and dramatic. Tastings are also available at the winery, 321 N. D St., Lompoc (478-7016), which is generally open to the public on Friday and Saturday ($15 tasting fee).
• Turiya Inner Peace, Central Coast 2012 ($85): Equal parts merlot, petit verdot and sangiovese (one barrel each), this blend shows aromatics of plum, fig, fruitcake and sandalwood; it's very inviting and intriguing, a nose like no other. Flavor wise, it's all about dark macerated plum, black currant, dark berry, candied violets, saddle leather and sandalwood, Deep dark and extracted, it has sweet, ripe fruit flavors coupled with a seductive savoriness. Smooth and creamy on the back end with a silky finish.
• Turiya Kindred Spirit, Central Coast 2012 ($85): Twice as much cabernet franc as merlot and sangiovese in this blend, it show dark cherry, plum, vanilla and sandalwood on the nose plus distinct notes of freshly baked cherry pie. On the palate, cola, dark berry fruit, black currant and olive tapenade with baking spices and hints of minerality and freshly turned earth. Moderate to full-bodied but with focused flavors, it begs for something meaty like tri-tip, grilled portobello mushrooms or smoky pork ribs. Rather tight right now, it needs several hours of decanting or some slumber time in your cellar.
• Turiya Dark and Dreamy, Central Coast 2012 ($65): This bottling is the whole shebang — equal parts of all the varieties: sangiovese, petit verdot, cabernet franc and merlot. Red and black fruit come across on the nose along with wood spice, tobacco leaf and melted milk chocolate. Aptly named, it is indeed dark (plenty of dark fruit on the palate) and dreamy; a mysterious blend that you might not expect. It's big and boisterous but never heavy in the mouth. Flavors include dark macerated cherry, chocolate-covered cherries (yes!), tobacco and saddle leather. Rich on mid-palate and extended on the finish with plenty of flavor oomph that just goes on and on.
• Turiya Petit Verdot, Paso Robles, Solana Vineyard 2011 ($85): Deep and darkly extracted, this one shows aromatics of dark plum, aged leather, lead pencil and an array of brown baking spices. Not as big in the mouth as you might imagine, given it's 100 percent petit verdot. It's the outlier and wild card of this group in that you rarely see this Bordeaux blending variety bottled separately. But the production methodology and the lengthy aging time provide exceptional balance. Dark plum, black cherry, root beer and aged hanging beef meet up with spiciness of clove, allspice and star anise to make a seamless wine from beginning to end.
Wine expert Dennis Schaefer's column appears every other week in the Food section. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello! You may have already heard that Turiya Wines was blessed with some incredible high scores from Wine Enthusiast recently. Here are the amazing ratings and reviews by Matt Kettman of Wine Enthusiast:
Turiya 2011 Shapeshifter Red (Central Coast)
93 Points & Editor's Choice
"There's magic in this 65% Petit Verdot and 35% Sangiovese combination. This shows concentrated cherry and kirsch aromas, touches of shiitake and porcini mushrooms and plenty of turned, wet earth aromas. The palate, framed by chalky tannins, offers more mushrooms and truffles in a black cherry-chocolate gravy, proving quite luxurious and interesting at once."
- Matt Kettmann, Wine Enthusiast, July 2016
Turiya 2011 Stolpman Vineyard Sangiovese (Ballard Canyon)
"Deep aromas of dried strawberries and blueberries meet with hot bricks, dried meats, purple flowers, a touch of smoke and secondary notes of truffle on the nose of this delicious smelling and tasting wine. The layers of flavor on the palate range from black cherry to milk chocolate, framed by chalky tannins."
- Matt Kettmann, Wine Enthusiast, July 2016
Turiya 2011 Golden God Red (Central Coast)
"Angela Soleno has struck a bit of gold on her Petit Verdot-Sangiovese blends, in this bottling offering blueberry, cinnamon, star anise, leather, clove, maduro cigar and truffle notes. The palate shows cola, root beer, roasted fennel truffle salt and blackberry-balsamic reduction sauce, framed by sticky tannins that will hold these flavors for a few more years."
- Matt Kettmann, Wine Enthusiast, July 2016
Turiya 2011 Solana VIneyard Petit Verdot (Paso Robles)
"This is a hearty wine on the nose, with sarsaparilla, red plum, rustic leather, dried strawberry and clove, showing a touch of age. A wide array of allspice, star anise and chicory spice pops on the palate, surrounded by dried red cherry, leather, iced coffee and turned-earth flavors. The acidity remains vibrant, but drink now."
- Matt Kettmann, Wine Enthusiast, July 2016
Rating Process (directly from Wine Enthusiast.com):
Tasting Methodology and Goals
All tastings reported in the Buying Guide are performed blind. Typically, products are tasted in peer-group flights of from 5–8 samples. Reviewers may know general information about a flight to provide context—vintage, variety or appellation—but never the producer or retail price of any given selection. When possible, products considered flawed or uncustomary are retasted.
About the Scores
Ratings reflect what our editors felt about a particular product. Beyond the rating, we encourage you to read the accompanying tasting note to learn about a product’s special characteristics.
98–100 Classic - The pinnacle of quality.
94–97 Superb - A great achievement.
90–93 Excellent - Highly recommended.
87–89 Very Good - Often good value; well recommended.
83–86 Good - Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value.
80–82 Acceptable - Can be employed in casual, less-critical circumstances.
Products deemed unacceptable (receiving a rating below 80 points) are not reviewed.
Hello Turiya lovers!
I can't thank you enough for your constant support. You, my special friends, are all part of the Turiya story now. Sharing my experiences with you is one of the best parts of my day and I would like to share a challenging situation I recently encountered at a wine event. As a young female winemaker and small business owner, my stories can be quite unique! I do suggest pairing this one with a bottle of the 2009 Malbec. Here we go...
I recently poured wine at an event and, after it was over, I left the cases of wine unattended while getting a cart to move them. While gone for those few minutes an attendee of the event decided to help herself to those cases of wine, opening them up and stealing some bottles. When I was alerted to this person stealing my wine, my babies, I ran up to her and well - let's just say I lost my cool. The bottles were recovered but the altercation has left me feeling a little depressed.
I have heard of wine being stolen, especially the collectable wines from high end producers such as Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Screaming Eagle and the like. Sadly thievery is more common than the small incident I endured. Here is a recent story about thieves who stole wine from the French Laundry in Napa and other high-end restaurants.
What have I learned from this? Sadly that some people look for opportunities to take advantage of others. I have also learned that I cannot EVER leave my wine unattended, even for a moment. It's good stuff, how can I blame her for WANTING it? Shoot, I guess it's flattery in some weird way. The incident has caused an uprising of pride for the wines.
Anyway, I have made the promise to you, my treasured friends, to share these experiences... the highs and the lows of being where I am today with my business. I can't 'wine' to much though; things are getting to be a but more predictable as I move into my 7th year of business. I'll be bottling the 2011's this coming week and look forward to the release of these beauties in November.
I hope to see you soon and catch up in person - perhaps one of these events? I think I could use a few more eyes watching the babies - after all they say it takes a village, right? ;)
Welcome to Lompoc
When one thinks of Lompoc, it is usually of the wonderful Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills AVA and tasting rooms in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, but there are other gems to be discovered—and like precious gems, they are not easy to discover. I want to introduce you to a rare find in the wine world—Turiya Wines. This small boutique winery is open to visitors by appointment only, and specializes in classic Bordeaux style wines. The Owner and Winemaker Angela Soleno is eager to introduce you to her wines.
Unlike some wine businesses professionals, Angela doesn’t come from money; this is not a hobby for her, she isn’t a stockbroker doing this on the side, nor an investment banker looking to find some new gratification in life. This is her life and passion, and has been for almost 10 years now. Angela’s heart and soul go into her wine and it shows. Her 2008 vintage was the first release and as anxious as a winemaker might be to realize some income, she aged the wine three years in the barrel and a year in the bottle before its understated, low-profile release. Turiya Wine's 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Camp 4 Vineyard and Syrah, along with her Perpetual Bliss blend, are truly world-class wines. All are reflections of the grapes, with soft fruit character, gentle earthy tones and well developed tannins. These wines are now retired to the library and the latest vintage was rolled out—a new blend and some interesting varietals—Malbec and Petite Verdot—equitable in style and in taste.
I had the chance to work at Heitz Cellars, Martha’s Vineyard,during a harvest in the early1970s, and was able to taste and buy some of the Cabernets from that era and region. I knew I was at the beginning of something great. I had been drinking Lafite Rothschild at the time, and today I have that same feeling of being 'in' at the beginning of a great winemaker’s early career.
Like Heitz Cellars back then, Angela sources her fruit from the best available vineyards, treats the grapes with love and respect, uses minimal processing, and lets the fruit and land speak for themselves.Her skill is in doing the right thing and nothing more—two varietals each year with a blend designed to compliment the vintages. It's worth seeking this Lompoc winery out. Tastings are by appointment only; please call (805) 478-7016 or visit www.turiyawines.com
SUBMITTED BY GENE TAYLOR
Last month, a group of winemakers brought a few of their bottles to the quaint but trendy tasting room Casa Dumetz, located in the heart of Los Alamos. The fact that the event was free and open to the public was not unusual for the small town, but one detail was unique: the winemakers were all women.
The idea for the casual Saturday evening came from Buttonwood Winery’s Karen Steinwachs, who was inspired by Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech that called for wage equality. Realizing March was Women’s History Month, Steinwachs quickly pulled together a night of wine sharing and drinking amongst female professionals in the industry. Plus, it’s a “good excuse [to get together],” she said. “Wine is a beverage that does exactly this,” pointing around Casa Dumetz’s patio that buzzed with chatter and sparkled with lights. “It brings people together.”
In California, about 10 percent of the 3,400 wineries have women as their lead winemaker, according to Riverbench’s winemaker Clarissa Nagy, and she believes the percentage in Santa Barbara County is higher. Exactly how much higher is hard to say, but on relatively short notice, about 20 women winemakers showed up to the March 28 event.
“Women in the wine industry has been a longtime coming,” said Turiya Wines owner Angela Soleno, whose small and fine-tuned winery produces less than 300 cases of red wine each year. “The women who are doing it [are doing it] well.”
Like the wines, the women were a diverse group, each with varying experience, expertise, and palate. Sadie Rushing, who started working seasonally at Fiddlehead two years ago, fell into the industry. “I love it,” she said. Fiddlehead was established in 1989 by Kathy Joseph, who is often considered “the grandmother of the region,” Rushing said.
Also among the region’s early winemakers is Denise Shurtleff, who started out as a lab technician after graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1983 with a degree in nutrition. She’s been head winemaker of Cambria Estate Winery — the largest in the county — since 2003. Among the other labels present were Bonaccorsi, Buttonwood Farm, Cambria, Carhartt, Casa Dumetz, Cebada Vineyard, Cold Heaven, and Foley.
Submitted by Angela Soleno, Owner/Winemaker
Bananas—that is what I told my son Trenton to write about last night for his homework assignment. It was the first thing that came to mind. Here is what he wrote: “Bananas are yellow and green too, Bananas are yummy for me and you. / Bananas have three ”A”s in their name—do you? / I like bananas because of their flavor—how about you?”
I am so proud of him—for the way he came up with that, for the intentions behind the words and for the kindness in him. Truth is though, that at times my boy challenges me, too. He has a tendency to take shortcuts in life and we are working through this.
You are probably wondering why I am talking about my son. Well, it’s because parenting is so much like my wine. Turiya is my last child. The one I chose to have all on my own—when I was already a single mother.It is something that I am really proud of and at times challenged by, too. Creation can be frightening, exciting and challenging; wine, or anything big or small that you have poured your heart and soul into, feels like this. I am sure as you can relate.
I suppose I have tried to protect my ‘wine’ children as much as possible, tenderly watching the grapes and vines grow, protecting them from the intrusion of unworthy chemicals, and then aging them past adolescence into full maturity—before letting them go off on their own. It is not my intention, however, to isolate them so they cannot be shared; rather, I hope my wines are cherished bottles that will be treasured and appreciated. So, should you pose the question, “what kind of wine do you make?,” my answer is “wine that I appreciate and am proud of.” I hope you like it, too, for my wines are my babies.
When hard-working Angela Soleno followed her heart, starting her own wine label in 2008, she still worked full-time at wineries in Los Olivos, bartended on weekends in Ventura, and took freelance writing assignments to make ends meet.
The single mother of two, who grew up in Orcutt, also juggled driving her children to cheer practice and guitar lessons, and all the while taking night classes at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria to learn more about winemaking and viticulture.
“Looking back, I don’t know how I did it or when I slept,” Soleno marveled.
She credits her dad and friends for supporting her through those sleepless lean years, whether it was helping to haul fruit or sorting grapes.
“I won’t pretend that I could have done it without [them],” she added.
Soleno started producing wine under her label Turiya Wines at Central Coast Wine Services, a warehouse in Santa Maria, home to many small artisan wineries under one roof.
“I had no prior experience. The facility had everything I needed at my fingertips, including other winemakers whose brains I got to pick. All I needed was fruit and some barrels,” she said.
That first year, she contracted for 1 ton of cabernet sauvignon and 1 ton of Syrah, both from Camp 4 Vineyard in Santa Ynez.
“I was elated, nervous, frightened, and excited all at the same time—still am. I tell people that making wine is a bit like falling in love: I suffer, if that’s the right word, through all the symptoms, every emotion emanated,” Soleno said. “My hands-on education began overnight and hasn’t stopped since.”
The 34-year-old Soleno currently handcrafts her luxury wines—Bordeaux and Italian-style wines—in Lompoc at 316 North F St., in a small industrial space that she shares with Scott Cellars.
THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
Turiya Wines produces luscious luxury wines using red grape varieties such as petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, syrah, and sangiovese. Bottles are screen printed in 24K gold.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANGELA SOLENO
She wants her winery to stay “small and focused,” producing less than 300 cases a year of ultra premium boutique wines.
Soleno’s philosophy, found on her website, is to make only enough wine, “So that each bin, fermenter, vineyard block, or barrel gets personal attention with touch, smell, and taste. The end result: dramatically fine-tuned wines.”
Soleno cherry-picks only the best grapes, takes great care of that fruit in the winery, will not manipulate her wine to enhance the flavors, and lets her wines age much longer than most wineries.
“I age the wines for three years in oak, bottle age it at least one more year, then release. Even though I began making wine in 2008, my first release wasn’t until 2013 because of my dedication to the aging process,” she said.
Those wines are now sold out. The excellent 2009 vintage was released last spring, and the 2011 vintage will be released this November. (Soleno did not make wine in 2010, which was rainy and then hot, because the available fruit, affected by the weather, wasn’t up to her high standards.)
Soleno’s 2009 Turiya Malbec (36 cases produced) is food friendly and complex, “drenched with flavors of raspberry mocha that continually evolve in your glass.”
The 2009 Petit Verdot (49 cases produced) is beautifully voluptuous, “dark and alluring, yet obvious berries that were tossed and turned, crushed and nurtured by a woman’s hand.”
Turiya Wines currently range in price from $65 to $85 a bottle.
Soleno believes that low-quality wines are a waste of time, money, and taste buds.
“I only produce red wine. I work with two to three grapes each year and create a red blend as my flagship wine for the year and also produce very small individual bottlings of each grape that goes into that blend,” Soleno said. “I mix things like sangiovese with petit verdot and syrah with cabernet. Since I don’t own any land, I work closely with the local farmers to find fruit sources that suit my needs.”
Turiya Wines are sold to the public via an allocation list accessible at turiyawines.com, or by phone at 478-7016. In addition to being able to shop online, members of the allocation list are guaranteed two bottles of each wine coming out in the future.
“These are my babies, I’ve handled each and every bottle from start to finish and even put my signature on them before I let them go,” Soleno said.
Want to taste Turiya Wines? Set up a $15 tasting at the winery, or for $25 you will sample the winery’s current release of bottled wines, plus Soleno will walk you through the barrels to taste wines still aging in the cellar.
“That way, people can taste what wines taste like really raw and fresh and then see how it evolves in the barrel. Then, I describe how I let it sit in the same barrel, and the tannins integrate into the wine, and I don’t filter, and all that fun stuff,” Soleno explained. “It’s very educational.”
“I truly believe in having a personal relationship with my customers. I want them to remember their experience with the wine I created. I want to make my customers proud,” Soleno added. “I guess that is how I get to exercise my control-freak, narcissistic personality—by knowing each and every person who has a bottle of my wine.”
The truth-seeking Soleno named her winery Turiya, a Hindu word meaning “the ultimate state of consciousness (or awareness).”
“By definition this pure state of consciousness is where reality and truth align,” Soleno said.
“Why make white wine just to add it to the lineup? Why hurry the process and bottle early just to free up barrels? ‘Why’ was the constant question that kept, and continues to keep me, on the right path.”
That is why she chose the word Turiya, “because, I believe in being aware, and I believe wine to be an experience, not just a product.”
Sun wine and food writer Wendy Thies Sell also tries to stay small and focused. Contact her at email@example.com.