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Tablas Creek Vineyard exterior.

Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles

By Published On: June 29th, 2023

A pioneer of Rhone varietals in California.

Tablas Creek’s vineyard is nestled in the heart of California’s Adelaida District. With 270 acres of limestone-rich soil, their estate boasts a stunning location in the picturesque hills of Paso Robles, just 11 miles from the breathtaking Pacific Ocean.

Tablas Creek Vineyard.
Gorgeous vineyard during Fall Season. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Today we uncover the captivating origin story of two families from across the world, brought together many years ago by their passion for wine. Meet the American Haas Family and the French Perrin Family.

In the mid-1960s, Robert Haas, through his Vineyard Brands importing business, set out to import fine wines from the iconic French regions of Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley.

During his journeys he met the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, a great estate in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Haas convinced Jacques Perrin to allow him to be the sole American importer for their wines. Haas worked with Jean-Pierre and Francois Perrin, Jacques’ sons, to make Beaucastel one of the leading estates in the world. 

Robert Haas with Jean-Pierre Perrin  and Francois Perrin at Tablas Creek Vineyard.
Robert Haas (right) with Jean-Pierre Perrin (left) and Francois Perrin (middle) at Beaucastel c. 1985. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Fast forward to the mid-80’s, the families were seeking a property in the U.S. to create a joint venture. A few years later they found 120 acres about 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the hills west of Paso Robles. The families began planting in 1994. 

Tablas Creek Vineyard sign.
Tablas Creek Vineyard sign. Photo Courtesy: Linda Compisi.

Tablas Creek Vineyard remains equally owned and run by the two families after three decades. Although co-founder, Robert Haas died in 2018, his son Jason, has run the estate since the mid-2000’s.

“The soils and climate here are what drew us to Paso, but it’s been the community that’s been the unexpected bonus. I hope that never changes,” said Jason Haas Tablas Creek Partner and General Manager.

Tablas Creek Limestone soils in dry farmed Grenache.
Tablas Creek Limestone soils in dry farmed Grenache. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

The Wines of Tablas Creek

Uniquely, the estate grapes at Tablas Creek are from vine cuttings imported from France beginning in the 1990s. The cuttings underwent a three-year U.S. Department of Agriculture mandated quarantine that ensured that the vines were virus-free. Ultimately all Beaucastel Rhône varietals were planted, following this arduous process, including: 

Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Counoise, Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc, Cinsaut, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Vaccarese, Picardan, Clairette Blanche, and Bourboulenc.

Tablas Creek Vineyard wine.
Three Tiers of Tablas Creek Blends. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Mostly known for their blends, Tablas Creek also produces varietal wines including a few that are not native to the Rhône, like Vermentino, Pinot Noir and Tannat.

2020 Esprit de Tablas Blanc – The Tablas Creek Vineyard 2020 Esprit de Tablas Blanc is their flagship white blend. This magnificent wine has Roussanne at its core but includes 5 other grapes to provide a balance of richness, minerality, green apple, acidity and pineapple. ($50 per 750 ml bottle)

Wine tasting at Tablas Creek Vineyard patio.
Patio in the Fall. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

2022 Vermentino – The 2022 Tablas Creek Vineyard Vermentino follows a 21 year history of producing this wine. One of my personal favorites from Tablas, this wine is bright and crisp with citrus character. A great summertime wine, it offers refreshing acidity and richness at the same time.  ($35 per 750 ml bottle) 

Tablas Creek Vineyard wines.

2021 Côtes de Tablas –  This red blend contains 4 Rhône varietals with Grenache in the lead at 47%. Adding spice with Syrah, wildness with the Counoise and layers with the Mourvèdre. The fruit and acidity of the Grenache carries this blend. ($40 per 750 ml bottle)

2021 Grenache – This estate, 100% Grenache has a delightful garnet color and a nose of red licorice. The mouth feel made me think of a bunch of grapes partying on my tongue. The acids and tannins are beautifully balanced. ($45 per 750 ml bottle)

Guests tasting wine inside Tablas Creek Vineyard.
 Flight tasting at one of their bar seats. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Winemaking at Tablas Creek

Neil Collins has been the winemaker at Tablas Creek since the beginning. He was well acquainted with both the Haas and Perrin families and offered his services. He was at Tablas Creek for the first plantings in 1994, when he was an assistant winemaker at a neighboring winery.

Tablas Creek Vineyard Winemaker Neil Collins.
Winemaker Neil Collins. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

He spent the 1997 vintage at Beaucastel, working and learning, but returned in August of 1998. Collins has overseen both the vineyard and winemaking operations ever since.

Neil follows the tradition of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Château de Beaucastel region in France, by blending, to produce wines that balance richness and elegance, while ensuring complexity, freshness, and minerality.

Tablas Creek Vineyard Foudres.
Tablas Creek Foudres. Photo Courtesy: Linda Compisi.

He was born in England and trained as a chef before entering his winemaking career. Neil remains Executive Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Tablas and is considered one of the Paso Robles legends.

Paso Robles Legends. Neil Collins Jerry Lohr John Munch Gary Eberle Janell Dusi.
Paso Robles Legends. Neil Collins Jerry Lohr John Munch Gary Eberle Janell Dusi. Photo Courtesy: Linda Compisi.

The Tasting Experience at Tablas Creek

You can book both inside or outside tastings at Tablas Creek. It’s recommended that you reserve a couple weeks in advance. Regardless of which space you reserve you’ll have a choice of one of 3 different selections, each containing 2 flights of 3. 

Tablas Creek Vineyard tasting room interior.
Tasting room. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

The Classic (mixed) flight includes both white and red wines, the white wine selection and the red wine selection. All selections include the flagship Esprit de Tablas. All tastings are $25 per person.

Tablas Creek Vineyard seated flight tasting on their patio.
A seated flight tasting on their patio. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Tablas Creek offers Vineyard and Cellars tours as well and I have done both. They are very informative, especially since Tablas Creek is well known for vineyard and cellar innovations including grafting of cuttings from France onto American rootstock.

Tablas Creek Vineyard and hills.
Take a Tablas Creek Vineyard tour, daily at 10:15am. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Summary

Tablas Creek Vineyard is a very special experience both in its deep traditions in winemaking, the role it played in making Paso Robles the amazing wine region it is today and because of the innovations it continues to herald in growing, making and improving their fabulous cellar of wines! 

“Kudos to the first-generation pioneers who came here,” said Jason Haas. “Thanks to Gary Eberle, Ken Volk, Justin Baldwin and Jerry Lohr, for putting Paso first and establishing the amazing collaborative spirit that defines this place. It’s been an honor to try to build upon the foundation they all laid.”

Jason Haas Partner and General Manager of Tablas Creek Vineyard.
Jason Haas Partner and General Manager. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Jason is proud of the past and present work done to help implement regenerative farming. “For the future, I’m excited about some of the new grape varieties we’re just wrapping our heads around. Cinsaut will be lovely and Vaccarese is exciting.”

Tablas Creek Vineyard is a Regenerative Organic Certified vineyard
Tablas Creek is a Regenerative Organic Certified™ vineyard. Photo Courtesy: Tablas Creek Vineyard.

I adore this producer and I think you will too. They work hard every day to bring new varietals to the forefront thereby improving their guests’ experiences. Long live the Rhône varietals and Tablas Creek!

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