Helen Turley

Helen Turley

Marcassin Vineyard (Winemaker & Owner)

Helen Turley, a highly regarded winemaker and wine consultant, was educated at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and she graduated from Cornell University. In 1977, she began working in the lab 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.

In 1984, she moved back to California and became 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 is presently a consulting winemaker for Martinelli Winery, among others, in addition to being the winemaker at Marcassin.

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. Most recently, she has been named to the California Hall of Fame.

Helen and her husband, John Wetlaufer, reside in Windsor, CA.