Talisman brand history grapic

Our History

25 years of making Talisman!

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 recently at a big dinner and is still very vibrant, flavorful and balanced!

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 his 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 your wines are fantastic, 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 – when we would come across another compelling vineyard, we’d add another Pinot noir. We now typically craft 16-18 wines from 12 diverse and unique vineyard sites, including several tiny lot, special bottlings of a single block, single clone, some made with 100% whole cluster and treaded by one of our staff, we call these wines “méthode ancienne” or Ancient Method. We’ve also added Rosé of Pinot Noir and a Pinot Blanc… 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 of 2007 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; in 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. 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.