Helen Turley

Helen Turley

Marcassin Vineyard (Winemaker & Owner)

Helen Turley, a highly regarded winemaker and wine consultant, began her higher education at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated from Cornell University. In 1977, she began working in the laboratory for Robert Mondavi Winery, followed by a short period at Chappellet Winery. She subsequently had difficulty finding a California winery to hire her in the cellar, so she decided to take a winemaking position in Kentucky.

She moved back to California in 1984 and became the winemaker for B.R. Cohn. A few years later, she became the founding winemaker for Peter Michael Winery in the Knights Valley wine region, one of Sonoma County's original five American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). At Peter Michael, she helped to define the emerging style of California Chardonnay and also developed Les Pavots, Peter Michael's flagship blend of red Bordeaux varietals.

Helen is viewed by many as having been several steps ahead of the rest of the industry. For example, in 1991 she planted a vineyard in the Sonoma Coast wine region, which at the time was largely undiscovered, and considered too cool to produce high-quality wine. This project developed into Marcassin, one of California's most respected Pinot Noir and Chardonnay labels.

Until 1995, Helen made wine for Turley Wine Cellars, which is owned by her brother, Larry. She has also worked as a consulting winemaker for a number of wineries, including Colgin Cellars, Kapcsándy Family Winery, Blankiet Estate, Pahlmeyer Winery, Landmark Vineyards, and Bryant Family. She was a consulting winemaker for Martinelli Winery from 1992-2010, in addition to being the winemaker at Marcassin. Martinelli releases in 2012 would be the final wines produced during her time as consulting winemaker.

Helen, who has received numerous accolades for her wines over the past three decades, is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Wine Spectator for 2010.

Helen and her husband, John Wetlaufer, currently are writing a book about Marcassin. They are also in the process of building a home in Windsor, CA, for her brand, Marcassin Vineyard.