Winemaking

At Tablas Creek, our winemaking is designed to maximize the expression of place we've begun in our vineyard practices.  Our goal is to bring the wine through the fermentation process while preserving the wine’s links to its grape varieties, its vintage and most importantly its terroir.

Our winemaking begins with our selective harvesting.  Most vineyard blocks are picked by hand two, three or even four times to ensure that the grapes that come into the cellar are at ideal ripeness. 

Because we believe that the particular collection of yeasts that exists at our vineyard is unique, we use only native yeasts in fermentation. Native yeast fermentation gives a diversity of flavors, and a character more specific to the site.

Each varietal fermented separately. White grapes are whole-cluster pressed, and the juice is fermented in aged a mix of 1200-gallon foudres (for about a third of the Roussanne and Grenache Blanc), small French oak barrels (for another third of the Roussanne) and stainless steel (for the last third of the Roussanne, as well as two-thirds of the Grenache Blanc, and all our Marsanne and Viognier). This balance gives a hint of the richness from oak fermentation, without heavy oak flavors that overwhelm the fruit or mask the character of place.

Francois Perrin punches down Syrah at Tablas CreekRed grapes (Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache Noir, and Counoise) are sorted and destemmed after harvest, and the juice and whole berries moved to a mix of open-top stainless steel, closed stainless steel, and 1600-gallon oak upright fermenters. During fermentation, the must is pumped over or punched down, or the cap submerged into the fermenting juice, twice a day. About 10 days after fermentation begins, the red wines are pressed, then moved to barrel to complete their primary and secondary fermentaitons. 

Finally, the spring after harvest, both red and white wines are blended.  White wines are generally returned to stainless steel to settle and integrate briefly, while red wines are moved to 1200-gallon French oak foudres and aged for an additional year. 

Key in our winemaking is our dedication to the art of blending.  As is traditional in Châteauneuf du Pape, we blend our Rhône varietals in an effort to produce wines that are more complex, better balanced, and richer than their components. We believe that having a multitude of flavors allows our wines to pair happily with a wide range of food, and to show appealing character at different ages.

Our Wines

We make three principal tiers of wines.  Our signature red and white Rhône blends are named Esprit de Tablas (formerly Esprit de Beaucastel), with the red based on Mourvèdre, and the white based on Roussanne. These wines are rich, balanced, and ageable, and should reward time in bottle to mature.

Our Côtes de Tablas wines are blended to be lushly fruity and appealing, approachable sooner than our Esprit wines.  The Cotes de Tablas is based on Grenache, while the Côtes de Tablas Blanc is based on Viognier.

Our Patelin de Tablas wines include fruit from some of Paso Robles’ top Rhône vineyards in addition to Tablas Creek, and are blended to be bright, fresh and clean, and to offer exceptional value.  The Patelin de Tablas is based on Syrah, while the Patelin de Tablas Blanc is based on Grenache Blanc, and the Patelin de Tablas Rosé is based on Grenache.

In addition to our red and white Rhône blends, we produce our rich, dry Dianthus rosé, small quantities of a rotating roster of varietal wines, as well as occasional small-production blends and sweet wines. More about our wines »

Winemaker Neil Collins

Winemaker Neil CollinsNeil Collins, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Tablas Creek, was born and raised in Bristol, England. Trained as a chef, he moved into winemaking with stints with John Munch at Adelaida Cellars and Ken Volk at Wild Horse. At Adelaida, Neil met Robert Haas and the Perrins when Tablas Creek was in its infancy. Neil was so intrigued by the project that he offered his services, and spent a year working and learning at Château de Beaucastel.

Before the year was finished, Neil was offered the winemaker position at Tablas Creek, and he has overseen both the organic vineyard and the winery since 1998.

His philosophy is that great wines can only come from great grapes, and that the art of winemaking is founded on starting out with the very best grapes and bringing their juice through fermentation as naturally as possible.

Neil was named San Luis Obispo County Winemaker of the Year in 2013.

Winemaking on the Tablas Creek Blog

You can read our updates and musings on winemaking on the Tablas Creek blog.

More Winemaking information


Events

Harvest Wine Weekend

October 14th - 16th, 2016
Celebrate Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend with Tablas Creek. Join us in the tasting room all weekend for a first look at our flagship Esprit de Tablas wines from the vibrant, powerful 2014 vintage. We will kick off the festival Friday night at McPhee's Grill in Templeton with a four-course, five-wine dinner. For reservations, call us at 805.237.1231 x230 or email events@tablascreek.com. On Saturday, join us in the cellar at Tablas Creek for a series of interactive harvest cellar tours throughout the day. Led by Executive Winemaker Neil Collins, guests will sample wines in various stages of the winemaking process and learn about the 2016 harvest and winemaking at Tablas Creek. Tours will be offered 10:30, 12:00, 2:00 and 3:30 (limited to 20 guests per tour; free to all guests). Details & more events »


Tablas Creek News

Chimney Fire Update

The Chimney Fire is 9 miles to our west, and all roads are open to us. Our tasting room is open and harvest proceeding as normal. Cal Fire update » Visiting »

August Featured Wine: 2015 Vermentino

Each month we feature a wine showing particularly well and offer it at a 10% discount. August's wine is the citrusy 2015 VermentinoDetails »

Tablas Creek wins 2016 California Green Medal for Sustainability

The CA Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance awarded Tablas Creek one of four 2016 Green Medals for leadership in sustainability. Our practices »


On the Tablas Blog

Harvest 2016 Begins!

August 18, 2016
By Jordan Lonborg
The wine grape harvest of 2016 has begun. Early this morning, our first Viognier pick kicked off our estate harvest at Tablas Creek. Our first fruit (also Viognier, from Adelaida Cellars) for the Patelin program came in yesterday. Next week, we expect to bring in more Patelin Viognier from one of Derby's vineyards, Pinot Noir from the Bob Haas's vineyard for our Full Circle Pinot, and some Syrah from Estrella Vineyard for Patelin red. At this stage, we're sampling fruit on a daily basis from several Patelin vineyards and multiple blocks at Tablas Creek to stay ahead of the ripening curve. A few photos from this morning:  Read More »