Tablas Creek is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families, the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, and Robert Haas, founder of Vineyard Brands. They had since the 1970s believed the California climate to be ideal for planting Rhône varietal grapes. In 1987, they began the lengthy process of creating a Châteauneuf-du-Pape style vineyard from scratch in the New World. The Tablas Creek Vineyard Partnership was born, with the Perrin and Haas families as majority partners, and French and American wine loving friends as minority partners.
The partners searched California from the foothills of the Sierras in the north to coastal Ventura County in the south, looking for a close match to the Mediterranean climate and high pH soils of Château de Beaucastel. In 1989, they purchased a 120-acre parcel twelve miles from the Pacific Ocean in west Paso Robles. They named it Tablas Creek Vineyard, after the small creek running through the property.
The property elevation averages 1,500 feet, and the shallow, rocky limestone soils are of the same geologic origin as those at Beaucastel. Summer days are hot and sunny, but the influence of the nearby Pacific cools the nights, and the remarkably Rhône-like Paso Robles climate allows the grapes to mature fully and yet retain crisp acidity.
To ensure that the vines at Tablas Creek were of the highest quality and same genetic source of those at Beaucastel, the partners imported vinifera from the French estate. Several clones each of Mourvédre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Counoise, Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc were imported. This diversity allows Tablas Creek to replicate the clonal selection of an established French vineyard.
In January 1990, the first vine cuttings were imported from France. Before arriving at Tablas Creek, they underwent a USDA-mandated three year indexing process that ensured that the vines were virus-free; the first imported vines were available for multiplication at Tablas Creek in 1993. New clones and new varieties continue to arrive at Tablas Creek each year. Planting at the estate began in 1994, with 105 acres under vine as of 2013.
In order to multiply the imported vines into the quantities necessary for the vineyard, Tablas Creek constructed its own nursery complex of high-tech greenhouses and shadehouses. There, vinifera was multiplied, grafted onto rootstocks, and gradually hardened off to sun and wind in preparation for planting in the vineyard.
At its peak, the nursery produced over 200,000 bench-grafted vines for planting in Tablas Creek’s own vineyard and for sale to interested growers each year. Although we no longer use the Tablas Creek’s nursery for commercial grafting, we partner with NovaVine, of Sonoma, California, to make available grafted vines and budwood of Tablas Creek clones. Producers who have planted Tablas Creek clonal material include Ridge, Qupé, Bonny Doon, Beckmen, Zaca Mesa, L’Aventure, Holly's Hill, Terry Hoage, McCrea and Stolpman. We have more information on our ongoing nursery program with NovaVine.
The “Tablas Creek Vineyard” label debuted with the construction of the estate winery for the 1997 vintage.
Tablas Creek Vineyard follows the centuries old Châteauneuf-du-Pape tradition of blending chosen varietals, which produces wines that are more complex and elegant, better balanced, richer and deeper than single varietal wines. Winemaking techniques, including dry farming, native yeast fermentation, and the use of large, neutral French oak foudres for aging have been chosen to produce wines that are authentic representations of the grapes, place and vintage from which they come.
The red wines, comprising about two thirds of the vineyard’s production, are made from Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Counoise. The white wines are made from Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. Total production averages around 25,000 cases per year.
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