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February 2006
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April 2006

New Tasting Room at Tablas Creek

When we built the Tablas Creek winery and office building in 1997, we were under the belief that we would be purely a production facility, and leave the marketing and sales of our wine entirely to other people.  So, when we designed the building, we did not include a tasting room.  When we would entertain VIPs, we would taste with them in the cellar or in our conference room.  And, we developed our tour, which took interested visitors down through our grapevine nursery, organic vineyard, and winery.

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                            From old...                                                                 to new!

We found that people who had the chance to see the property in action came away like disciples, spreading the news about Tablas Creek to their circle of acquaintances.  And, we realized just how difficult it is to get your story out in what is a more and more crowded wine marketplace. 

So, in September of 2002, we converted what had been the lobby of our office into a tasting room. Since then, we've welcomed nearly 40,000 people through this 440-square-foot room.  It wasn't ideal, but we made it work, bringing in a hand-made stone tasting bar (made from limestone from our vineyard), another custom cabinet made from two of our old barrels, and whatever other pieces of furniture we could make work.

Pam Blakeman, Tablas Creek's
Tasting Room Manager

This room worked for us well in 2002 and 2003, and adequately in 2004.  However, by 2005, we were cramped on weekends, and positively overwhelmed on festivals.   So, we made a decision to expand the tasting room early in 2006.  We sacrificed our conference room (which also served as my dad's office) and reconfigured the tasting room space to include three new tasting bars, new lighting, new inventory display space, and a new color scheme.

The two parts of the tasting room now total 980 square feet (effectively doubling our capacity) and we can now pour from five different bars when we need to.  We dedicate one room on weekends to our VINsider Wine Club members, and we can also close off the new room for private groups.  Plus, we can be much more flexible about the sorts of winery events we can hold, including our recent VINsider shipment tasting party.

We moved into this space in mid-February, and it has been an absolute pleasure.  We encourage you to come out and see it for yourselves.  If you are interested in setting up a visit and tour, either for yourself or for a group, please contact us!  Some photos of the conversion are below:

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Field grafting Picpoul Blanc

We grafted over a section of Roussanne yesterday, replacing it with Picpoul Blanc.  Picpoul has thrived here, and its bright acidity makes a nice addition in our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc blend. 

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The crew first cut the Roussanne vines about a foot from the surface, and then field grafted the Picpoul budwood on to the already planted vine.  The graft site was then wrapped with tape for support and sealed with grafting paint to prevent infection and keep the new grafts from drying out.  Field grafting like this accelerates the growth of the vine (compared to pulling plants out and replanting) by harnessing the new budwood to the pre-existing root system.  We expect to get a crop from these Picpoul vines in two years, instead of the three years it takes a newly planted bench-grafted vine to be strong enough to produce fruit.

Winter Returns to Paso Robles

So, just when we think that we're ready to escape from winter and move onto spring, we're reminded that March in California is tremendously unpredictable.  This morning, we had snow for the second time this winter (after 5 winters with no snow at all).  To celebrate, we made an early-morning trip up to the top of the vineyard.
In the photo (taken by my wife Meghan) you have Eli, complete with green dragon suit, and me dressed as much for winter as happens in California.  Behind us you can see Viognier vines, recently pruned (with the discarded prunings in view at the bottom right).  Stretching away behind us are sections of Grenache Blanc and Marsanne, and in the valley Adelaida Road.  Behind that is Halter Ranch.