Rhône varietals are this Paso pioneer’s specialty.
The visionary founders of Paso Robles’ 120-acre Tablas Creek Vineyard focused their attention on varietals native to southern France, particularly the southern Rhône Valley. After extensive research in the late 1980s, the U.S.-based Haas family and the Perrin family of France’s Château de Beaucastel selected for their vineyards a limestone-bespeckled site in a section west of U.S. 101 now called the Adelaida District. The appellation’s terrain and climate of warm days and cool nights closely mirror conditions in the French original.
Hosts at tastings highlight Tablas Creek’s organic, biodynamic, and sustainable farming philosophy and the winery’s pivotal role in the ascendance of Paso Robles as a hub of Rhône-style production. The number of grape types produced as single bottlings or in blends is impressive, with lower-profile (in the U.S.) white grapes such as Picpoul Blanc and Picardan gracing a lineup that also includes Viognier, Roussanne, and several others. On the red side are single-varietal Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre bottlings and “GSM” blends incorporating all three. Two favorites of wine critics are the Esprit de Tablas GSM blend of those three red grapes plus small amounts of Counoise, Vaccarese, and Cinsaut, and En Gobelet, which contains the first four and Tannat.
At tastings, by appointment only (reserve a week or more ahead on weekends), you can choose mixed flights or an all-white or all-red one. With any of them you’ll find out why restaurant sommeliers admire Tablas Creek wines for their balanced, food-friendly composition.
Why go: pivotal role in Paso’s Rhône ascendance; lower-profile varietals; balanced, food-friendly wines.
Tablas Creek Vineyard appears in 12 Foolproof Paso Robles Wine Tasting Experiences.
This story first appeared online in 2017; it was updated in 2023. In lead photo (courtesy of the winery), from left: César Perrin, Jason Haas, and François Perrin at Tablas Creek Vineyard.