Sunday, October 20, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 33

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Find a whole rainbow of foods in one place at Talley Farms' winery, farm stand, and u-pick pumpkin patch


Years ago, while working at Bay Area farmers’ markets for a Watsonville-based farm, I learned that the food sold at farm stands and farmers’ markets is usually picked fresh that morning. By the time the sun comes up and the produce is arranged on the farm stand tables, the quality is so superior to store-bought that you wonder why people shop anywhere else. 

Focus on farming
The Talley Farm Stand at Talley Vineyards is open till Nov. 3, every Saturday and Sunday from 1030 a.m. to 430 p.m. It offers fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, a u-pick berry patch, a pumpkin patch, wine tasting at the winery, picnicking on the grass, and farm and winery tours. The pumpkin patch offers a variety of sizes and types of the seasonal squash. You can pick your own in the field or choose from the array of pre-picked pumpkins in front of the tasting room. Talley Farms is located on 3031 Lopez Drive, Arroyo Grande, on the way to Lopez Lake. Keep up with what’s in season at and

At Talley Farms, the public is welcome to grab a carton and discover rows of red and gold raspberries, olallieberries, loganberries, mulberries, and blackberries, which my husband and sons enjoyed on a summer day.

There’s nothing like the whole experience of shopping straight from the farm—the feeling is right, like hand-writing a letter on quality paper and sending it with a real stamp.

Talley Farms and Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande make it easy for me to get my fix of fresh and organic everything. The family farm is known for its estate wines and community-supported agriculture (aka CSA) boxes. 

Because we dig eating what’s local, organic, and in season, we subscribe to Talley’s weekly farm share box. Anyone can subscribe to these bountiful boxes, which can be delivered to your door for an extra cost or picked up at various locations across the Central Coast, including in Buellton, Lompoc, Los Alamos, Nipomo, Orcutt, Santa Maria, and Solvang.  

But Talley’s accessible agriculture doesn’t stop there. Starting in the summer, the farm has a weekend stand and seasonal berry and pumpkin u-pick patches, which run through Nov. 3. 

Talley Farms’ farm stand is open through Nov. 3, offering a variety of fresh-picked produce, honey, and other treats.

“This is our third year for the farm stand,” said Andrea Shapiro Chavez, manager of the Fresh Harvest CSA program. 

She noted that her favorite Talley farm item is the “sweet bi-color, non-GMO corn.”  

“We started the farm stand to bring together the farm and the winery,” Shapiro Chavez said, adding that there was a need for local produce, and Talley felt most comfortable in the farm atmosphere. 

The road to Talley is one of those over-the-river-and-through-the-woods Edna Valley day drives, so don’t be in a rush. It’s worth the trek, as Talley is the southernmost stop of nine local farms and ranches on the newly promoted SLO County Farm Trail, an “agri-CULTURAL” experience (as coined by FARMstead ED, a SLO County-based ag education organization). 

The produce at Talley is picked from their 1,500 acres of surrounding farm, 7 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The farm uses university-trained agronomists, a full-time engineer, sustainable farming practices, and only non-GMO seeds. Many of the fields are USDA organic certified, but even in the conventional fields, the Talleys use organic herbicides and pesticides. 

On opening day in June, Talley Farms brought out their yellow bins of in-season, organic fruits and veggies straight from the farm for sale, as local vendors joined in the fun and people picnicked on the grass with live music.

The Talley family farming tradition dates back to 1948 when Oliver Talley started growing broccoli, beans, cauliflower, peppers, and tomatoes as the first five crops. The farm was passed down to Oliver’s son Don in 1963, and in 1966 Oliver, Don, and youngest son Kenneth purchased some of the Talley property. In the ’60s and ’70s, the family bought more land, built their first cooler, and started the shipping process. 

When Kenneth passed away in 1976, Oliver retired and Don became president of Talley Farms until 2006. Don and his wife, Rosemary—with the help of Brian, Todd, and Ryan Talley—have been hands-on, innovating, and growing the farm ever since.  

“When I started the farm box program, most people didn’t even know Talley had a farm,” Shapiro Chavez said. “The farm has been here for over 70 years, and the winery has been here over 30, but more consumers connect with the winery.” 

The family and employees at Talley often give tours of the farms, work booths at festivals, and speak about sustainable farming at local events. 

“They’re really community oriented,” Shapiro Chavez said of the Talley family. “They’re third generation and now fourth generation working here.” 

Talley Farms’ Fresh Harvest CSA farm share program offers a variety of seasonal fresh fruits and veggies delivered weekly, biweekly, and monthly to pickup locations throughout Northern Santa Barbara and SLO counties.

In 2004, Brian and Johnine Talley established the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers, a grant program assisting SLO County ag workers and their families. In 1993, the Talley family established the Marianne Talley Foundation, funding scholarships for college-bound Arroyo Grande High School athletes. 

When it comes to their produce, word on the street is that their kiwis, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts have made Talley Farms pretty famous.  

All in all, Talley ranks high on my list of ag adventures, with its trifecta of wine tasting, farm stand shopping, and u-pick all in a weekend! 

Sun contributor Beth Giuffre is looking for Snoopy and the Great Pumpkin at Talley Farms. Send your favorite fresh picks to the editor at

Nibbles and bites

Riverbench Winery is hosting a day of pumpkin decorating at its tasting room on Oct. 26. Just bring your creativity—the winery has grown hundreds of pumpkins for you to choose from. One pumpkin and decorating supplies are included with each $10 ticket, and there are two event times—at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Wine by the bottle or glass will be available throughout the day in the garden, and tastings will be available inside the tasting room. Space is limited, so get tickets early on Eventbrite. The pumpkin decorating will happen rain or shine, so dress accordingly for this outdoor event. Riverbench is located at 6020 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria. Visit for more details.

• Halloween is arriving a little early in Orcutt. Naughty Oak Brewery and Vino et Amicis are throwing a block party on Oct. 26 from 8 p.m. to midnight, complete with a costume contest and specialty drinks themed for this ghoulish get-together. Naughty Oak is serving its Bloody Beer cocktail (think michelada but with a twist) and its Witches Brew s’mores stout debuting at the party. The ghosts and goblins at Vino et Amicis will be pouring two wines from Final Girl Wines for the event. Each venue has party wristbands for $10 that will get you their respective holiday concoctions; if you go to both, the second wristband is $5. The costume contest begins at 11 p.m., and there are prizes for each category: Creativity, Make-up/Special Effects, and Crowd Favorites. You can enter as an individual or as a group. For more info, visit; Naughty Oak is located at 165 S. Broadway, suite 102, Orcutt. 

• Locals passionate about pinot can now secure their spot at the 20th annual World of Pinot Noir events, held at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara from March 5 to 7, 2020. Tickets are on sale, and discounts are available through Oct. 31. Highlights include pinot noir and Champagne parties, pairing dinners, seminars, and more than 250 featured wineries from around the world. New this year will be a menu from award-winning chef Santos MacDonal of Il Cortile and La Cosecha in Paso Robles, and a Founders Dinner featuring many of the winemakers (and their wines) who helped launch the World of Pinot, including Talley Vineyards, Foxen Winery, and Stephen Ross Wine Cellars. For more information, visit

Associate Editor Andrea Rooks is sipping Champagne and carving pumpkins. Send tricks, treats, and tidbits to the editor at

Weekly Poll
What do you think about Guadalupe's major housing plans, which include 800 planned homes?

Good. The area needs as many new houses as possible.
It's a good idea if commercial developments like big box stores don't follow.
There should be more, but 800 houses is too many.
Bad idea. That many homes will skyrocket the city's population.

| Poll Results