Helen Turley was educated at Cornell University in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. In 1977, she began working in the lab for Robert Mondavi Winery followed by a short time at Chappellet Winery. However, Turley 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, Turley landed the job of founding winemaker for Peter Michael Winery in the Knights Valley wine region. At Peter Michael, she helped to define the emerging style of California Chardonnay and also developed Les Pavots, a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend.
Helen Turley has always been several steps ahead of the rest of the industry. This was evidenced by her decision in 1991 to start planting a vineyard in the Sonoma Coast wine region. At the time, the Sonoma Coast was largely undiscovered, and most vintners considered it too cool to produce high-quality wine. This project developed into the Marcassin, one of California’s most respected Pinot Noir and Chardonnay labels.
Until 1995, she made wine for Turley Wine Cellars which is owned by her brother, Larry. Ehren Jordan is the current winemaker for the label. Helen Turley’s other consulting credits include working for Colgin, Martinelli Winery, Kapcsándy Family Winery, Blankiet Estate, Pahlmeyer Winery, Landmark Winery, and Bryant Family.