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.
Engaging vineyard tours conducted daily at 10:30 and 2 highlight Tablas Creek’s organic, biodynamic, and sustainable farming philosophy and the pivotal role the winery played 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 Counoise and En Gobelet, which contains all four and Tannat.
At a tasting you’ll find out why restaurant sommeliers admire Tablas Creek wines for their balanced, food-friendly composition. You can drop in anytime at the wood-paneled hospitality center to sample several estate wines, but to taste older and small-production wines it’s best to make a reservation. Do the same to book a tour.
Why go: pivotal role in Paso’s Rhône ascendance; lower-profile varietals; balanced, food-friendly wines
This story first appeared online in 2017; it was fact-checked and updated in 2019.