Robert Haas has played a leading role in the American wine industry for over half a century. As a buyer for his family's New York retailer M. Lehman starting in the 1950s, Haas traveled through the cellars of France, establishing a formidable reputation as a wine taster while forging lifelong relationships with premier wine producers.
In the mid-1960s he set out on his own to import fine estate wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley, where he met the Perrins of Château de Beaucastel and convinced family patriarch Jacques Perrin to appoint him the Perrins' exclusive American importer. Through his importing business Vineyard Brands, he worked closely with Jacques' sons Jean-Pierre and Francois Perrin, establishing Beaucastel as one of the international wine community's leading estates.
Over the course of two decades traveling around the United States together to promote their French wines, Haas and the Perrins became friends, and emerged convinced that the Rhone grape varieties so well suited to the sunny south of France would thrive in California's Mediterranean climate. In 1985, the families began looking for property.
Robert Haas was recognized by the Paso Robles Wine Community as 2007 Wine Industry Person of the Year, and in 2014 he received a lifetime achievement award from Rhone Rangers for his contributions to the American Rhone movement.
Jean-Pierre and Francois Perrin have received numerous international awards, including being named Men of the Year by Decanter Magazine in 2014.
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 what is now the Adelaida District west of 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. Ample rainfall in the winter allows most of the vineyard to be dry-farmed each year.
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, as well as a variety of rootstocks. 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 115 acres under vine as of 2017.
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. Since 1994, we have sold nearly 5 million grapevine cuttings to more than 600 vineyards and wineries in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia. To inquire about grafted vines or budwood availability, please contact NovaVine at www.novavine.com or 707.539.5678.
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, to produce wines that balance richness and elegance, while ensuring complexity, freshness, and minerality. Winemaking techniques, including dry farming, native yeast fermentation, and the use of large, neutral French oak foudres for aging allow our wines to reflect authentically the grapes, place and vintage from which they come.
Red wines, comprising about 50% of the vineyard’s production, are made principally from Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Counoise. White wines, comprising about 35% of production, are made from Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. Two rosés, one based on Grenache and the other on Mourvèdre, account for the final 15% of production. Total production averages between 25,000-30,000 cases per year.