' Talisman Wine - History



Our History


Vintage 2017, Wow! Our 25th year of making Talisman! What a blur of wonderful memories, funny situations, heartwarming events, meaningful conversations, lively meals with our team, growers, friends and customers. Winery events with Chef Tracy, sorting grapes for weeks, endless fermentation punchdowns, soooooo many experiences dancing around in our heads.

Our first vintage was 1993; 203 cases of Carneros Pinot Noir were hand-crafted from three tons of Madonna Vineyard fruit. This wine was poured a year ago at our “90’s Dinner” at the winery and is still very vibrant, flavorful and balanced! We poured from 750ml and 3L side by side which was fascinating. We made just one wine from the Los Carneros AVA for the next 5 years, then in 1999 added a Russian River Pinot made from grapes grown on Klopp Ranch. In 2001 we added a third wine, this one from Thorn Ridge Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Soon thereafter Steve MacRostie approached us to make wine from Wildcat Mountain Vineyard; in his words: “I want one other winery to make a Wildcat Mountain Pinot, and I want it to be you, because you make fantastic wine, but I also know the value of having my vineyard name on your bottle so you’ll help market it for me”. And that we did. The story goes on; as we would come across another compelling vineyard, we’d add another Pinot noir. In 2017 we made 18 wines from 11 vineyards. How far we have come!

For the first fifteen years we sold our wine by mailing release letters and hosting customers in our home.  Scott was making Talisman wherever he was working as a winemaker. In 2007 we were fortunate to secure a space on 8th Street East in Sonoma where an industrial complex designed specifically for wineries was being built. We finally had our own winery!

From March to September we worked like crazy installing plumbing and electrical systems, walls, an office, a store room, tanks, a sorting table, a press and finally moved all our barrels of sleeping wine into our new facility. And we got an anti-gravity machine called a forklift. Have you ever flipped a quarter on to one of the forks? Scott taught many of us this cool trick.

The next year we began hosting moderately large events in the winery cellar; we met many of our current customers at these soirees 😊. Transforming a production space into a party palace was/is a lot of fun. We hosted customers upstairs in the office for five years until we decided it was time to open a tasting room. We found a fabulous spot right in our home town of Glen Ellen; the oldest commercial building in our tiny village. It has been a jillion things over the decades; hotel, general store, apartments, speakeasy and probably a brothel like so many other buildings in Glen Ellen, Lol. Next time you visit us, take a peek at the framed historical timeline composed by a local historian. Again for many, many months we moved walls, installed sinks and ordered a huge table built from an ancient Hawaiian mango tree blown over in a storm. And painted. All summer, every inch, including the floor and ceiling, multiple coats. Lots of painting…

We want our guests’ tasting experience to be like the old days visiting our home; personal and comfy. And in fact some of the furniture and rugs came from our house! We transformed the former Roma Hotel building into something magical, and indeed, welcoming, warm, comfy and personal.