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.
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: