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Is 2010 our best vintage ever? Perhaps...

This is bottling week.  We're mostly done with putting eight different wines into bottle: the 2011 Cotes de Tablas Blanc and seven of our red varietal wines from 2010: Counoise, Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, our two Pinot Noirs and our first-ever Cabernet.  Most of these are small production wines, with only Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah over 300 cases in production.  But it's still the most extensive lineup of varietal reds we've ever done, thanks to the high quality, plentiful 2010 vintage.

When the last of these rolled off the bottling line this afternoon, I took the opportunity to pull a bottle of each and open one up (plus the 2010 Tannat, bottled two weeks ago).  They'll surely be better in another few months, but even fresh off the bottling line, when many wines don't show their best, all were expressive and varietally true.  All show depth of flavor without any sense of extra weight. Taken together, they provide more evidence that 2010 is going to be a classic vintage for Tablas Creek.  The lineup:

2010 red varietal wines

2010 Counoise: A rich, tangy, spicy nose of low country barbeque, smoke, pomegranate and figs.  The mouth is silky at first -- surprising for a Counoise -- with a milk chocolate note and a polish that I've never seen in one of our Counoise bottlings.  Then the flavors explode into sour cherry, spice, tree bark, blood orange and cola, an amazing collection of powerful, vibrant flavors hard to imagine in one wine.  The finish (like many of the 2010s) reverberates between tangy fruit and sweet spice. 13.5% alcohol; 277 cases produced.

2010 Grenache: A composed, restrained nose of mineral, plum compote, and cola.  More expressive in the mouth, showing sweet fruit, crushed rock, and wild strawberry, quickly reined in by Grenache's classic front-palate tannins.  The finish opens back up with mouth-watering acidity that reminded me of watermelon rind and cherry pit. 14.8% alcohol; 733 cases produced.

2010 Mourvedre: A nose of herb-rubbed roast, figs, balsamic and mint: totally classic aromas for Mourvedre.  The mouth is cool and minty, very fresh, with nice dark red currant fruit, fresh herbs, mineral and a hint of sweeter fruit coming out toward the end that made me think of watermelon, all surrounded by chewy tannins.  A beauty that will likely provide pleasure early and with age. 14.1% alcohol; 720 cases produced.

2010 Syrah: A rich, round, creamy nose that reminded me of my wife Meghan's first description of Syrah, tasted out of foudre: "butter in a butcher shop".  Additional aromas of licorice, white pepper, crushed rock and a little cedary oak.  The initial impression in the mouth is one of freshness, but it packs a punch of flavor with blackberry, creamy minerality, mint and beautiful tannins.  I think it's the best Syrah we've ever made. 14.5% alcohol; 708 cases produced.

2010 Pinot Noir: Ripe, round, spicy Pinot fruit on the nose, showing potpourri, roses, juniper and cherry.  The mouth is rich but somehow gentle, strawberry candy and root beer, but not sweet.  Good tannins provide a welcome touch of firmness and a nice clean finish. 14.5% alcohol; 72 cases produced.

2010 Full Circle (100% Pinot Noir, Haas Vineyard): This is a new wine for us, from the 3-acre vineyard surrounding my dad's house in one of the coolest pockets of Templeton.  It's called "Full Circle" because it reflects his career: from a start introducing America to the greatness of Burgundy, through decades focusing on grapes from the Rhone, he's now growing Pinot at home.  Shows broader and deeper, if less exuberant, than the Tablas Pinot: an absolutely classic old world Pinot Noir nose of sweet spices, black tea, plum and earth.  The mouth is similar, but leading with the loamy minerality and following with purple fruit, good acids and granular tannins.  A wine to get to know and watch evolve, and a testament to the potential of Pinot Noir in the right parts of the Paso Robles AVA. 13.6% alcohol; 53 cases produced.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon: Another new wine for us; in previous years our tiny block of Cabernet has been blended into our Tannat.  But this year it was too compelling to blend away, so we made four barrels.  After the Rhones and Pinots, it's a totally different world: a classic Cabernet nose of eucalyptus, sour cherry, sawdust, wood spice and green peppercorns.  The mouth is richer than the nose suggests, with plum, Christmas spices (I found juniper, clove and allspice) and a very long finish that vibrates between sweet fruit, firm tannins and spice. 13.5% alcohol; 88 cases produced. 13.5% alcohol; 88 cases produced.

2010 Tannat: A rich, deep nose of balsamic reduction, grilled meat, black pepper, smoke and mineral.  The mouth is surprisingly supple, with flavors of strawberry-rhubarb pie, figs, dark chocolate, and wood smoke.  Drinking this felt like sitting around a campfire, smelling meat that's grilling, or sitting in front of a fireplace in wintertime.  Wild. 14.5% alcohol; 760 cases produced.

A few concluding thoughts.  To my taste, this is the best collection of varietal wines we've ever made.  Each is absolutely characteristic of the varietal that it comes from, with remarkable depth and complexity of flavors.  But none feel heavy, and none feel to me like I need to bury them in the back of my wine cellar for several years (as I have with some of the bigger vintages, like 2005, 2007 and 2009).  And while they won't need lots of time at the front end to be approachable, I am convinced that these wines will age very well, with the vibrant acidities keeping things together as they develop secondary flavors and their tannins soften.  And the alcohols are all pretty low, with several under 14%.  The end result should be wines with remarkable elegance and silky texture, for those with the patience to wait.

It won't be easy.

Celebrating May 15th: the unofficial end to frost season

I've been delaying writing this post so as not to jinx our progress, but I think that we're far enough into May that I can do so safely.  So, here goes.

We seem to have made it through spring without any damage from frost.

This achievement is noteworthy: we only had one other vintage in the previous decade (2005) where we didn't see any frost damage at all. Four vintages saw only minimal frost impact (2003, 2006, 2007, 2010). We incurred light to moderate damage in 2004 and 2008.  And as regular followers of Tablas Creek will know, we have suffered serious damage from frosts in two of the last three years (2009 and 2011).  Frosts are unfortunately a regular hazard in Paso Robles.  The incredible swings in temperature between daytime highs and nighttime lows mean that even days in the low 70's can potentially have frosty nights.  And it's easily capable of being warm and beautiful during February and March, which can trick the vines into sprouting in early April, six full weeks before the May 15th cutoff we consider the unofficial end of frost season.

An ideal winter, for us, would have regular rainstorms from December through March, with the non-rainy periods including nights each week that drop into the mid-20s.  The longer the weather stays frosty, the better, ideally into early April.  Then, it can warm up, with the vines coming out of dormancy in mid- to late-April.  Once that transition happens, it shouldn't freeze again.

Lo and behold, that's what happened (except that the rainstorms were less frequent than we'd have ideally wanted) in 2012.  We'll happily trade a moderate drought year for no frost, particularly after two years of good rainfall have left the soils with healthy amounts of ground water.  Looking back at the climate data, it appears that the crucial difference between this year and last happened in March, when a warm 2011 encouraged early growth, rather than in April, when that growth was subjected to frost.

 Average High
Average Low
# Nights < 35° # Nights < 32°
March 2011
61.1° 39.1° 6 2 (3/1, 3/18)
March 2012
63.2° 35.8° 13
8 (3/1, 3/3, 3/6-3/8, 3/10, 3/19, 3/23)
April 2011
68.5° 39.0° 7
4 (4/7-4/10)
April 2012
70.0° 42.0° 6
3 (4/6-4/8)

In 2011, there was only one night between March 1st and April 7th where we dropped below freezing, and that night, March 18th, saw our weather station bottom out at 31.8°.  Compare that to 2012, when we saw below-freezing nights regularly through March, including three nights in the twenties.  These freezing temperatures encouraged the vineyard to stay dormant despite the fact that the average daytime highs were actually higher than in 2011.  So, when we saw three genuinely cold nights in early April, almost a year to the day from the devastating frosts of 2011, the vineyard was still dormant.  Then, when it warmed up, it did so conclusively, with only four nights since April 9th dropping down into the 30's and none dropping below 35°.  This 35° threshold is important because our weather station isn't in the coldest part of the property.  If the station's temperature reads 35°, it's below freezing in our coldest hollows.

What will be the impact of this frost-free spring?  Nothing but good.  We're seeing excellent vigor, though perhaps due to the slightly below average rainfall the growth doesn't seem to be excessive.  But every vineyard block, even those in low-lying areas where we're used to seeing weakness due to repeated frost damage, appears to have set a healthy balance of clusters and canopy.  The vines are amazingly regular, and we're able to leave the primary buds and remove any secondary growth in our shoot thinning.  A photo (of a Grenache Blanc block) will give you an idea of how clean everything looks:

Grenache blanc rows may 2012

After our cool end to winter and our warm beginning to spring, we're more or less on a normal track to flowering, and a couple of weeks ahead of the pace of the past two years.  That's a welcome development; in both 2010 and 2011 we harvested more fruit in November than September.  Now we need to hope for good weather during flowering so that our early assessments of good but not enormous yields turns out to be true, and steady ripening throughout the summer, with a minimum of heat spikes to maintain the vigor of the vines and the balance of the fruit.

But there's time to worry about that later.  As for the end of 2012's frost season, we say hallelujah.

Nine lessons the Kimpton Hotel Group offers wineries

Last week, Meghan and I escaped for a night down to Santa Barbara to see David Sedaris perform.  We stayed downtown at the Canary Hotel, a few blocks away from the Arlington Theater where he would be performing. When we checked in, it was during the evening wine hour that Kimpton Hotels are known for, and we sipped on glasses of a local Sauvignon Blanc while the clerk completed the registration.  We were greeted warmly, told that we had been moved to a corner room with a balcony, and then were on our way.

I am not a particularly loyal traveler.  I choose airlines based on the rates they charge and the convenience of their connections, even though I'm an elite member of United.  I pick rental car companies based on price, though if it's close (and it only rarely is) I'll give Hertz and Avis the benefit of the doubt due to their superior customer service.  Between Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Westin, and the like, I really don't care and mostly can't tell them apart.  But if there's a Kimpton in town, you'll most likely find me there.  As I was thinking about why, I realized that there are lessons here for wineries, and have tried to apply these lessons to Tablas Creek.  Below are nine lessons I take away from Kimpton's success.

  • Get to know your customers... and show that you remember.  As a part of the loyalty program, you're asked questions like what sort of room you prefer (I like corner rooms because of the light and air flow), what sort of pillow you like (feather), what newspaper you like, etc.  And if you're one of their elite members, you get an even more detailed checklist of what you'd like to see and do.  And when you check in, Kimpton figures out how to make your preferences happen.  It requires both infrastructure and commitment, but the result is that your stays feel personalized.  As a winery, do you know what wines your customers particularly like?  Are you letting customers who have enjoyed a particular wine know when the next vintage is released?  Are you recognizing your best customers?  Are people greeted by name when they check out?  Your systems most likely have this treasure trove of potential information hidden inside.  It's up to you to figure out how to apply it.
  • Be friendly to the whole family. Before we even had kids, still in our twenties, we treated ourselves on the cross-country trip that brought us out to California from Washington, DC.  After more than a week of cheap motels and national park lodges, we splurged a little (it was still only about $100) and stayed in the Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City.  When we arrived, grimy from a day of driving, with our dog, we were greeted warmly and Maddie even more so.  She was led upstairs, had a special bed for her, a treat on arrival and with the turndown service, and instead of being treated as suspicious (as we'd found in some "pet friendly" hotels on our way out) we were made to feel welcome.  Kimpton hotels are all pet friendly, and all, in our experience, equally kid friendly.  As a winery, have you thought about people who are coming with pets or kids?  We have a small table and chairs where kids can color while their parents taste.  And there's a bowl with water outside for dogs.  The cost is virtually nil, and the gratitude from guests who come with pets or kids is wonderful.
  • Offer consistent value. Kimpton hotels aren't cheap.  They're typically in the $150-$250 range, and there are doubtless cheaper options nearby.  But they pack a lot of comfort and personality for what they charge.  As a boutique winery, that's your job.  You don't want to be the cheapest, you want people to feel like whatever they pay they got a lot of value for.  It's also important that your best customers feel like they're being treated fairly.  This is particularly difficult in the ruthless online hotel marketplace.  If you find a cheaper rate online than Kimpton has on its Web site, they'll match it and offer you a $25 credit.  I'm not suggesting that wineries do the same, but if your wine club members are finding your wines cheaper at their local retailer (and with the Internet, the definition of "local" stretches a lot) they're not likely to be members for long.  Make sure you know what your wines are being offered for online, and figure out how to take action if you're finding that you're falling behind.
  • Make your workplace a great place to work. It's clear in every interaction with Kimpton staff that they enjoy what they're doing.  And the recognition has come: Kimpton was #16 in Fortune's Best Companies to Work For 2012.  For Kimpton, this includes rewarding employees who go out of their way to provide outstanding service, funding ongoing education, encouraging a healthy work-life balance and, most importantly, empowering employees to improvise and make on-the-spot decisions that will benefit their customers.  Working at a winery, particularly in hospitality, is similar to working in hotels in that you're "on" each day.  You see new guests every day, and each day will be many guests' first experience with your brand.  Do your employees feel valued?  Are they given the authority to make decisions?  Are they supported when they come to you with suggestions?
  • Be a good corporate citizen. Kimpton has been a industry leader through their Kimpton Cares program.  They have launched out-of-the-box initiatives like "Great Meetings, Great Causes" that try to bring their message of sustainability to non-traditional venues.  And they for many years offered free parking to hybrid and electric vehicles.  Do these make a difference in the world? Probably, to some degree.  And their commitment seems sincere.  But it has brought them lots of community goodwill and free publicity, which never hurts.  Many wineries are doing well here, whether farming organically or sustainably or supporting community causes.  But there is always more to be done.  At Tablas Creek, we've identified arts in our community as an area to dedicate significant resources to, and now are major sponsors of the Central Coast Shakespeare Festival, Festival Mozaic and the Paderewski Festival of Paso Robles. But beyond what we do ourselves, we've been able to leverage our position in the community.  My father founded the Winery Partners of the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center, a group now in its third year, which has together donated nearly a quarter of a million dollars in recognition of the importance of the venue to the county's cultural life and of the wineries in the county's economic vitality.
  • Focus on public relations instead of advertising.  Kimpton hardly advertises.  At first, this was because (like most wineries) the available funds were low and the market penetration of the stable of boutique hotels limited.  But more and more they believe in the higher return on investment of engaging with customers and writers, developing stories organically, and building via word of mouth.  Social media has only made that task easier.  I think that this is even more true for wineries.  Advertising is a blunt tool, where you reach a lot of people but aren't likely to convince many to take action because of it.  Worse, it's only valuable to the extent that you have already achieved market penetration.  That money that you could spend on an ad in a glossy magazine could almost certainly be better used to develop contacts with writers in the hopes of generating editorial coverage, or reinvested in creative incentives for your current fans to share their enthusiasm with their friends.  Is it more work?  Sure.  But someone else's testimonial for your brand is inherently more powerful than your own.
  • Know your history, and celebrate it. Most corporate hotels feel the same, whether they're in San Francisco or Sarasota.  Not Kimptons.  They make a point of searching out and renovating historic buildings and then imbuing them with the personality of their region.  This doesn't feel like a schtick... the way that, say, a W in suburban Atlanta does with its techno and neon.  Instead, the architecture is thoughtfully restored, the connection between the hotel and its neigborhood celebrated, and the space's history displayed and explained.  As a winery, take a look at the entrance to your tasting room.  What does it say about you?  Are you communicating your essentials?  You might be surprised at the story your facility is telling.  Are you slick or personal?  Fancy or down-home?  Artisan or industrial?  Traditional or modern?  There isn't a right answer, but it's important to know and to make sure that you are creating the impression you want.  For a case study, take a look at the blog post from last spring Telling the Tablas Creek story... without words.
  • Give people who don't know you yet reasons to discover you. Each Kimpton has a restaurant, often among the better restaurants in their cities.  These go far beyond the typical hotel restaurant and while they do provide hotel guests a place to have a quick breakfast or a late-night snack, they cater primarily to the local community.  A vibrant restaurant ensures a steady influx of potential new customers and friends of potential new customers, as well as adding to the prestige and reputation of the venue.  Most wineries won't have restaurants on-site, but it's important to stay visible to customers who don't yet know you.  Are you doing open houses for members of the hospitality trade?  Offering your site as a venue for industry events?  Partnering with non-winery businesses to host their events?  It's easy to open your doors and wait for your customers to find you, but being proactive can bring you so much more.
  • Be generous with the little things. Whether it's the complimentary wine tasting, the complimentary internet access, bottles of water in the rooms, the fruit in the lobby or the goldfish and bowl you can take to your room, things that other luxury hotels charge for are included with your Kimpton stay.  I hate the feeling of being nickeled and dimed.  As a winery, if you're charging tasting fees for people who purchase or event fees for your club members who are coming to buy wine, it's worth considering whether the benefits of loyalty and increased sales may outweigh the small amounts of revenue you're bringing in.

Is this a checklist that any successful winery has to mark off?  Of course not.  But most wineries want what the Kimpton Hotel Group has achieved: respect as purveyors of a consistently high quality product, in classy, comfortable environments, with outstanding customer service and positive impacts on their communities.

Sounds worth emulating, to me.

Photo Essay: Spring Cleaning in the Vineyard

Between winter's worries about rain and frost and summer's worries about ripening lies a busy but often overlooked spring season where we have about a month to clean up the vineyard.  This spring cleaning mostly involves making decisions about whether to mow, disk or spade our cover crop into the earth, and then cleaning up area under the vine rows so that we can get in later to apply nutrients or minerals.  It also involves removing any suckers -- unwanted sprouts on the grapevines -- that will draw off the vine's vigor and impede the easy access of light and air later to the fruit in the summer.  And this year's cover crop has been one of the thickest and lushest in memory:

Lush cover crop

The beginning of this growing season has been wonderful for vigor: we haven't had any frost, and the late rain has meant that everything (vines and surface plants) is green and growing fast.  The extra vigor now will serve the vines well this summer but it increases the pressure on us to get going before the cover crops get up at the level of the new growth and start to inhibit air flow and encourage the growth of mildew spores.  First we go through and either disk (left) or spade (right).  Disking is faster, but spading tills deeper and does a better job of breaking up the soil.

Disked Spaded but not tournesoled

Then we follow with the Tournesol, a tractor attachment that tills among the vine rows without uprooting plants, wires, or posts.  When we're done, it should looks like this:

All clean

We'd hoped to get a jump on this work last month, but one downside of the April rains is that last month's work will largely have to be redone.  In the photo below you can see on the right a row that was spaded this week, and on the left a row that was spaded last month and in which the rain encouraged a new regrowth of the cover crop:

Spading old and new

We use several different mixes of cover crops, each including various grains, legumes and ground covers to provide (respectively) biomass, nitrogen fixation, and erosion conrtrol.  In one of the sections, we used a barley-heavy mix, and with the gentle winter we're seeing more robust barley growth than we ever have before.  So, we've also been harvesting and drying this cover crop to provide supplemental food for our animals.  Below, the barley-rich cover crop (on the left) and one of the ears of barley (on the right):

Barley cover crop Barley ear

We are cutting the barley and leaving it to dry in the sun, then tying it into sheaves and bringing it into our shadehouses, from where we'll use it to supplement the foraged grasses that our grazing herd will eat this summer:

Barley harvest

We've been trying to make our vineyard as self-sufficient as possible (hence the grazing herd in the first place) and being able to feed the animals with our own cover crops, even when we aren't able to leave either animals or cover crops in the vineyard, gets us one step closer.

The transformation of the vineyard from its winter shag to its summer trim is happening fast.  We hope to have it done by Memorial Day.

A great dinner, an amazing restaurant, and a wine that marks the beginning of Tablas Creek

Last weekend Cesar Perrin and I were honored to host the keynote dinner at the Bern's Winefest.  Hosted by Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida, the festival included dinners, seminars, and a grand tasting.  So far, nothing unique about this.  The dinner that we hosted was excellent, five courses and eight wines, including side-by-side flights of Tablas Creek and Beaucastel, library vintages from both wineries (1996 Beaucastel and 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel, and the remarkable 2000 Hommage a Jacques Perrin).  Terrific, but still not unique.  It was a wine dinner, masterfully prepared and expertly paired, with a selection of wines going back a decade and a half.  At Bern's, that's routine.

If you're unfamiliar with Bern's, it's Mecca for wine lovers.  Opened in 1956 by Bern Laxer and run today by his son David, the restaurant boasts a wine cellar of nearly a million bottles, much of which was purchased by Bern on his annual trips to France and has never been inventoried.  The working cellar of over 100,000 bottles is staggering in its own right, and the wine list (183 pages in the 62nd Edition) is legendary.  It includes big names from Burgundy and Bordeaux, but it's more than trophies.  It encompasses the deepest collections of old wines from California, Spain, Australia and the Rhone Valley that I've ever seen.  And the sommeliers there keep finding more.  When Bern's shipments of wines would arrive from France, the entire Bern's staff would be called on to grab a hand-truck and help move the new arrivals the two blocks from the end of the rail line to the warehouse across the street from the restaurant.  Thousands of cases would be packed into the warehouse, with the only master plan in Bern's head.  To this day, the sommeliers treat a visit to the warehouse like a treasure hunt, and estimate that there are 200,000 bottles, most from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, not on any inventory list. These discoveries keep the list from getting picked over, as there is a steady supply of treasures to uncover.

Even more remarkable, the restaurant does not mark wines up based on how long they've held the inventory.  So browsing through the list will uncover any number of unbelievable values.  I could choose between a half-dozen California wines from 1973 (my birth year) including names like Parducci, Louis Martini, Souverain, Franciscan, and Trentadue for between $45 and $70.  Had I been born a year earlier, I could have chosen a magnum of 1972 Inglenook Cabernet, an icon from one of the greatest vintages in Napa Valley, for $129.  A year later and I could have had a 1974 Ridge Zinfandel for $72.70.  The list goes on and on.

Knowing that the winemaker dinner would have a set menu, with wines that we knew, Freddy Matson (the Vineyard Brands manager for Florida's Gulf Coast) made a reservation for Cesar and me the night before our wine dinner.  When we arrived, we put ourselves in Sommelier Brad Dixon's hands, and enjoyed an amazing string of wines, beginning with a 1954 Rioja, continuing with great Burgundies from 1978 and 1961, and including not one but two different wines from 1973, both from Souverain of Alexander Valley: one a Zinfandel and one a Pinot Noir.  It was one of the great epicurean experiences of my life.

On the wine list, Cesar and I noted a curiosity: half-bottles of 1966 Pierre Perrin Chateauneuf du Pape.  Pierre Perrin was Cesar's great-grandfather, Jacques Perrin's father, but there are other branches of the Perrin family in Chateauneuf and -- until the Hommage a Jacques Perrin debuted in 1989 -- we weren't aware of the Perrin name appearing on a Beaucastel label.  When we asked Brad about the wine, he didn't know anything about its story, but brought us a bottle:


More than the Perrin name, the Leeds Imports strip label identified it as a wine of interest.  My grandfather created Leeds Imports because New York law at the time prohibited retailers (he owned M. Lehmann) from also acting as importer/distributor.  In the late 1960s my dad was the buyer for the wines that Leeds imported, both to sell at M. Lehmann and to offer to distributors in other states.  We decided we needed to find out more. From the restaurant, Cesar texted his father a picture of the bottle. Francois hadn't heard of the wine (of course, he was thirteen during the 1966 vintage).  I emailed my father but didn't hear back.  So Brad gave us each a bottle and asked us to let him know what we discovered.

The next day, I spoke to my dad and got the scoop.  In the late 1960's, my dad had decided that the American market was ready for wines from some regions outside the traditional bastions of Burgundy and Bordeaux.  So he was visiting appellations that he thought were making high quality wine and looking either to find new suppliers or quality wine in bulk that he could then have bottled and out of which he could create a brand.  He visited Beaucastel with a broker in 1967 and found that while Jacques Perrin wouldn't sell him Beaucastel (their American importer at the time wasn't selling much wine, but had an exclusive agreement) he was able to convince Jacques to let him taste through the lots and assemble his own cuvee for bottling.  This is that wine: made by Jacques Perrin, chosen by my dad in Beaucastel's cellars, bottled under a semi-anonymous label in Bordeaux, and imported into the United States.  My dad thinks that there were perhaps 300 cases produced total.  I'm not sure if any is left anywhere other than at Bern's, but I tend to doubt it.

There were no subsequent vintages of Pierre Perrin Chateauneuf du Pape.  The American importer got wind of the wine and asked Jacques not to do it again.  But my dad's interest in Beaucastel was sparked; he kept visiting and in 1970 convinced Jacques to give him the American import agency.

So, there it is: the beginning of the Haas-Perrin partnership that would become Tablas Creek.  Just a great discovery, during an amazing night of food and wine, at a restaurant unlike any other in the world.  If you haven't been to Bern's, you owe it to yourself to go.  You never know what you'll find, but you know you'll find something you couldn't have found anywhere else.