We are so excited to introduce our latest FRĒDA Girl, Christina Turley of Turley Wine Cellars; some of the best wine we’ve ever had. We met her a few years back at their Paso Robles tasting room and caught up with her to ask her a few questions. Read on to learn more about Christina and her family’s business.
I spent a few summers cleaning barrels in the cellar at Turley, but didn’t really get into wine until I started working in restaurants in New York City. I started as a hostess at Tabla and Gramercy Tavern while I was in college and loved it: the energy, teamwork, and culture of food & wine felt both comforting and endlessly captivating. I studied with the American Sommelier Association, passed my Certified exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2009, as well as the Advanced course at Wine & Spirits Education Trust. I went on to become the Beverage Director for the Momofuku Restaurant Group in Manhattan, managing Ko, Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar and Ma Peche before moving back to work for my family in 2010.
DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH YOUR FAMILY’S BUSINESS?
Definitely not! I studied Art History in college, which my father called the “second least-employable major” (Theater being the first, which is what I’d started out studying.) I got a job after college in a contemporary art gallery called Matthew Marks basically to prove him wrong but also because I loved the dynamic, smart, and stunning environment. However, I found myself continuously drawn back to food and wine: forgoing the Arts section of the NY Times for the Restaurant section, spending hours deciding where to eat on the weekends instead of what shows to see. I came across an Oscar Wilde quote that was the final nail in the wine box: “It’s what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” I jumped back into restaurants and haven’t looked back since.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT WORKING FOR TURLEY? HAVE THERE BEEN CHALLENGES WORKING FOR/WITH FAMILY?
The absolute best part is hearing the stories from our customers about how our wines have touched their lives. Whether it was someone’s first wine “epiphany” or part of a momentous romantic moment, it’s often personal, positive, and pivotal. I’m continually amazed and so grateful that we get to make something that brings such joy to others. I mean what if we made, like, widgets?!
Of course, there are some challenges. When I first started, my father was hyper-aware (and rightly so!) of not wanting to give me special treatment, but it may have veered too far towards the opposite end of the spectrum at times. However, those are the times I’m most thankful for the wines we make—after all, Zinfandel is one of the most “efficient” wines out there alcohol-wise, which is why I always say our wines pair well with family!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MONUMENTAL MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?
Being named one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” in 2014 for Food & Wine. Hot damn.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS TO LIVE BY?
Learning about wine was one of the best things I ever did for myself—having that confidence when I sit down in a restaurant or walk into a shop that I can order something I’ll like, at a good value, that will pair well with the food—it’s priceless. So, read as much as you can, take a class, and most importantly, drink up!
WHAT BRINGS YOU INSPIRATION?
My father’s years as a motorcycle-driving patchwork bell bottom-wearing Emergency Room physician; my mother as a DVF & Betsey Johnson-wearing bad-ass Emmy-winning journalist; and my husband’s incredible head of hair.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOUR DELICIOUS WINES?