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Tasting the Wines in the Fall 2023 VINsider Wine Club Shipments

Each spring and fall, we send out a selection of six wines to the members of our VINsider Wine Club.  In many cases, these are wines that only go out to our club. In others, the club gets a first look at wines that may see a later national release. Before each shipment, we reintroduce ourselves to these wines (which, in some cases, we may not have tasted since before bottling) by opening the full lineup and writing the notes that will be included with the club shipments. This morning I sat down with Senior Assistant Winemaker Chelsea Franchi and we dove into this fall's collection.

We base each year's fall shipments around the newest releases of the Esprit de Tablas and Esprit de Tablas Blanc, and this fall is no exception. But there's a lot more to these shipments than the Esprits. In our classic (mixed) shipment we have included two varietal wines, one red and one white, both of which I love, and one of which is the first wine in a new tier that opens up whole new vistas for us. We're also including two blends: the newest vintage of our Patelin de Tablas Rosé and our small-production En Gobelet blend, selected entirely from our head-trained, dry-farmed vineyard blocks. We think it's one of the most compelling classic shipments we've ever put together, and the additional wines that will go into the red wine and white wine selections are super cool as well. I'm excited to get them in our members' hands soon. Chelsea may not let them out of hers.

Chelsea with Fall 2023 VINsider shipment wines

The classic shipment includes six different wines:


  • Production Notes: Lignée is French slang for "lineage" and the Lignée de Tablas Windfall Farms Grenache Blanc is our first release in a new tier of wines that features single-vineyard expressions of Tablas Creek clones. The Windfall Farms vineyard is part of a gorgeous horse ranch in the Paso Robles Creston District that used to belong to Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and now includes some 100 acres of high quality vineyard. This 100% Grenache Blanc is a classic expression of the grape, fermented in stainless steel. It was bottled in May 2023 under screwcap to preserve it at maximum freshness.
  • Tasting Notes: A nose of grapefruit pith, petrichor, chalk, apricot pit and lemongrass. On the palate, pure nectarine and green apple fruit with bright acids, a persistent wet rock minerality, and Grenache Blanc's signature mouth-filling texture and sweet spice. The finish shows notes of mandarin, star anise, and crushed rock. Drink now and over the next few years.
  • Production: 825 cases
  • List Price: $35 VINsider Price: $28


  • Production Notes: the 2021 vintage is shaping up to be one of our strongest ever, with intense flavors that remain fresh and lifted thanks to a harvest season which brought a lovely rhythm of alternating cool and warm periods without any heat spikes or rain. Roussanne thrived in these conditions, and our Esprit Blanc blend included our highest percentage since 2016 (70%) fermented in a mix of oak of various sizes and ages for power and density. To that Roussanne base we added more Picpoul (17%) than Grenache Blanc (10%), for its bright acids and tropicality, and just 2% Bourboulenc and 1% Clairette Blanche for limestoney, citrusy lift. As we have done since 2012, we returned the blend to foudre after it was assembled in May 2022 and aged it through the subsequent harvest before bottling it in December 2022. We've been letting it deepen in bottle ever since.
  • Tasting Notes: A powerful nose of new honey and toasted brioche, orange blossom, pineapple core, and a sweet green note reminiscent of tarragon. The palate is intensely Roussanne: fresh pear and beeswax, orange marmalade and chalky minerals. The powerful structure and bright acids dominate the finish, which is just starting to hint at the caramel and nutty depths to come. Drink over the next two decades.
  • Production: 1560 cases
  • List Price: $60 VINsider Price: $48


  • Production Notes: We're excited to share both our rosés with VINsiders this year. In the spring, we sent members our Mourvedre-based Dianthus, and this fall we're sharing our Provencal-style, Grenache-based Patelin Rosé. Always led by Grenache (67% this year), which provides both bright fruit and refreshing acidity, the wine also includes additions of rich, floral Mourvedre (21%), spicy, electric Counoise (9%), and for the first time, a touch of Vermentino (3%) for its citrusy, minerally lift. Vermentino is a traditional component of many Provencal rosés under its French name Rolle. 90% of the fruit was direct-pressed upon arrival at the winery, with the balance destemmed and let soak for a single work day, then pressed off after about 12 hours. The wine was bottled in January 2023 and we've been enjoying it ever since.
  • Tasting Notes: A pretty light peach color. On the nose, juicy aromas of Haribo peach, yellow raspberry, strawberry leaf, and yellow roses. On the palate, juicy with flavors of ripe peach, lime zest, creamy minerality, and a gentle minty lift. The lingering finish has notes of pink grapefruit, bright acids, and salty minerals. Drink now and over the next year.
  • Production: 3300 cases
  • List Price: $28 VINsider Price: $22.40


  • Production Notes: In a year where every grape showed well, Grenache still stood out, gaining unusual depth and richness to complement its classic flavors of red fruit and spice. For our varietal bottling we as usual chose lots that emphasized Grenache's freshness and avoided riper lots that tend toward higher alcohols. The lots were blended in June 2022 and aged in neutral oak until its bottling in February 2023.
  • Tasting Notes: A spicy nose of black cherry, red licorice, black pepper, allspice, and rosemary. The mouth is vibrant with fresh plum and blackberry fruit, bright acids, and a wild juniper berry herbiness adding complexity. There is plenty of Grenache's signature youthful tannic grip on the finish, with notes of plum skin, chocolate truffle, and black licorice. Drink soon to enjoy the youthful fruit and spice, or hold for a decade or more for a smoother experience.
  • Production: 970 cases
  • List Price: $45 VINsider Price: $36


  • Production Notes: Our fourteenth En Gobelet, a non-traditional blend all from head-trained, dry-farmed blocks, and mostly from the 12-acre block we call Scruffy Hill, planted in 2005 and 2006 to be a self-sufficient field blend. These lots tend to show more elegance and minerality than our closer-spaced irrigated blocks, although in 2021 the wine shows plenty of power. We chose a blend of 39% Grenache, 29% Mourvedre, 16% Syrah, 11% Counoise, and 5% Tannat, with the Grenache and Counoise providing lift, the Syrah and Tannat providing structure and tannin, and the Mourvedre earth, loam, and ageworthiness. The wine was blended in June of 2022, aged in foudre, and bottled in April 2023.
  • Tasting Notes: A lovely deep red color. A savory nose of teriyaki, mocha, pine forest, and (eventually) redcurrant. The palate is seamless with sweeter flavors like cherry and brambly blackberry balanced with savory, loamy warmth and juniper spice. Bright acids and plum skin tannins highlight a long finish of new leather, chocolate, cranberry, and salty minerality. Complex and built for the long term. Decant this if you're drinking it now, or wait and drink any time over the next two decades.
  • Production: 861 cases
  • List Price: $60 VINsider Price: $48


  • Production Notes: As always, the Esprit is based on the red fruit and meatiness of Mourvedre (35%). The relatively equal proportions of Grenache (26%, for sweet spice and bright acids) and Syrah (23%, for dark color and savory, tannic richness) are a good indicator of the vintage's overall balance and quality. This also seemed to be a great vintage to lean into three of our more trace varieties, and we used all our Vaccarese (7%, for black fruit and minerality) and Cinsaut (5%, for warm purple fruit and sweet spice) as well as 4% Counoise for vibrancy and wildness. This blend produced something both intense and fresh, complex and yet pure. The wine's components were selected for Esprit, blended in June 2022 and aged a year in foudre before bottling in August 2023.
  • Tasting Notes: The nose is deep and inviting, clearly Esprit: new leather, sweet spice, currants and dark chocolate. On the palate, broad and rich, with notes of flourless chocolate cake, black plum, meat drippings, and a spicy, nutty mincemeat pie element. The finish is brambly blackberry, black fig, and milk chocolate, with chewy tannins that promise years of meaty development. Immensely appealing now, but also with the structure and intensity to reward time in the cellar. Enjoy any time in the next 25 years.
  • Production: 2950 cases
  • List Price: $70 VINsider Price: $56

Two additional wines joined the Lignée de Tablas and Esprit de Tablas Blanc in the white-only shipment (members will get two bottles of the Esprit Blanc and two bottles of the Marsanne):


  • Production Notes: Our fourth-ever bottling of Bourboulenc, from just our fourth harvest of this relatively obscure Rhone white grape. Bourboulenc is known in France to make wines with bright acids, fresh fruit aromatics, and a distinctive nutty character. In just a few years, it's become a favorite here. We fermented it this year in a single concrete egg, then let it settle. It was bottled in June 2023.
  • Tasting Notes: A tropical nose of passion fruit, lychee, fresh almond, wet stone and a warm coconut character that Chelsea identified as surf wax. On the palate, bright, like barely-ripe mango, with additional high-toned fruit elements like mandarin and lemon balm. The finish is more linear, with lemon drop and chalky mineral, and a nice pithy textural bite. Our experience aging Bourboulenc is limited, but we plan to drink ours over the next few years.
  • Production: 185 cases
  • List Price: $40 VINsider Price: $32


  • Production Notes: Marsanne is best known from the northern Rhone, particularly the famed appellation of Hermitage, where it produces wines of legendary elegance and ageworthiness. The 2022 vintage produced lovely Marsanne, which we fermented in 600-gallon foudres to emphasize its texture and give it a hint of oak. Because we thought it so classic and pretty, we reserved a little more than usual for a varietal expression at blending in March of 2023. The wine was bottled in June.
  • Tasting Notes: A pretty nose of orange peel and chalky mineral, honeysuckle and acacia wood. The palate is lovely and gentle, with flavors of pineapple and nectarine, cream puff and lemongrass. The finish is bright, with Meyer lemon and warm straw notes. So appealing now that I'm guessing a lot of it will get drunk young, but it should evolve in an interesting way for a decade at least.
  • Production: 505 cases
  • List Price: $40 VINsider Price: $32

Two additional reds joined the GrenacheEn Gobelet and two bottles of the Esprit de Tablas in the red-only shipment:


  • Production Notes: The twelfth vintage of our Full Circle Pinot Noir, grown on the small vineyard outside the Haas family's home in Templeton, in the cool (for Paso) Templeton Gap AVA. Its name reflects Robert Haas's career: from a start introducing America to the greatness of Burgundy, through decades focusing on grapes from the Rhone, one of his last acts was to plant Pinot at his home and oversee our first few vintages. The grapes were fermented in one-ton microfermenters, two-thirds de-stemmed and one-third with stems for a more savory profile, punched down twice daily by hand. After pressing, the wine was moved into a mix of one-year-old and two-year-old Marcel Cadet 60-gallon barrels, for a hint of oak. The wine stayed on its lees, stirred occasionally, for 10 months, before being blended and bottled in August 2022. We've aged the wine in bottle for an additional year since then.
  • Tasting Notes: An immediately recognizable Pinot Noir nose of cherry cola, sarsaparilla, Chinese five spice and new leather. The palate is bright with cranberry and salted raspberry notes, sweet baking spices and chalky tannins. Drink now and over the next decade.
  • Production: 313 cases
  • List Price: $50 VINsider Price: $40


  • Production Notes: Mourvedre is the one red grape that we try to bottle on its own each year, because we think it is a wonderful grape that too few people know, and one we feel worthy of some proselytizing. The outstanding 2021 vintage produced some of our favorite-ever Mourvedre lots, seemingly equally balanced between Old World-style loamy, meaty elements and the lusher red-fruited, milk chocolate mouth-coating density that we associate with Paso Robles. All our Mourvedre lots were fermented in large wooden tanks and moved to neutral barrels to await blending. The chosen lots were blended in the spring of 2022, then aged in a single foudre until bottling in April 2023.
  • Tasting Notes: A deep, rich nose of soy marinade, bay leaf, saddle leather, mocha, and blackcurrant. On the palate, rich with currant and black plum fruit, baker's chocolate, cherry wood, herb-marinated leg of lamb, and white pepper. The long finish shows cocoa powder, dark red fruit, dried rose petals, and a graphite-like minerality that combined with the structural density suggests you could drink this any time in the next 20 years.
  • Production: 492 cases
  • List Price: $55 VINsider Price: $44

The tasting was a great way to hone in on the character of our two most recent vintages. 2022 is a vintage that shows outstanding vibrancy: clear, delineated flavors and bright acids, with plenty of fruit to back it up. 2021 is a classic year whose combination of low yields and cool harvest temperatures produced wines that all taste like themselves, only more so. Both seem like they'll offer pleasure whether people drink the wines soon or wait. We can't wait to find out what our members think.

If you're a wine club member, we've got a range of options for you to try these wines. We are planning to host a live in-person pickup party on Sunday, October 22nd. Neil, Chelsea, and I will be hosting another virtual pickup party the evening of Friday, October 13th. And we'll again be offering club members who visit the opportunity to choose the shipment wines as their tasting flight between mid-September and early-October. Consider this a "save the date"; we will be putting details on all this on our VINsider News & Updates page and announcing them via email soon.

If you're not a wine club member, and you've read all this way, then why not join us while there's still a chance to get this fall shipment? Details and how to join are at

We are headed for our latest harvest since 2011. And maybe our latest ever!

I got back this week from three weeks in Vermont. I try to take that vacation each year, both because it's nice to get out of Paso Robles in what's usually our hottest month and because it's typically a quiet time of year in the vineyard and winery. The grapes are ripening, the wines we've decided on are getting blended, and we're getting the previous vintage into bottle. There aren't a lot of decisions to make. Typically, when I get back in late July, I find a vineyard transformed by at least the early stages of veraison, with purple starting to make its way into what is otherwise a sea of green. Not this year. Check out Syrah, typically the first to show color changes:

Syrah late July 2023

Not only is the Syrah not changing color, its berries aren't even full-size yet. Look at all that space in the clusters! Since it's usually a week or two between the berries reaching maximum size and them starting to change color, we're still weeks away. And it's not just Syrah. Let's take a run through the other key red grapes, in more or less the order in which we'd expect to see them harvested. Next would be Grenache:

Grenache late July 2023

Grenache is its usual beautiful self, and the berries are larger and rounder than what we're seeing in Syrah... but still hard, green, and sour. Nothing like the Grenache that I posted one year ago yesterday:

Veraison 2022 - Grenache 2

Mourvedre is usually next to go through veraison, though it takes more time than the others between veraison and harvest. Our Mourvedre berries are still small, which is unsurprising since we were still seeing the last stages of flowering at the summer solstice:

Mourvedre late July 2023

Finally, Counoise, which even in more precocious years I'd expect to still be all green in late July. This year's berries, though, still have a lot of growing to do before they can even think of starting to turn purple:

Counoise late July 2023
Over the last decade, the average date when we've noted our first veraison was July 21st, with a range between July 9th and July 30th. If I'm right and we were still three weeks out as of yesterday, that would put us at August 16th. That's nearly four weeks later than our recent average. 

How does this year stack up against the last two chilly growing seasons that we've experienced, back in 2010 and 2011? In 2010 we saw our first red berry on July 30th, and in 2011 it wasn't until August 5th. Could we possibly be two weeks later than our latest-ever vintage? Maybe that's unlikely. After all, most of the last month has been quite warm, and the recent trend seems to be diverging from the 2010-2011 trend lines. The below chart measures growing degree days by year, with the bold, dotted red line representing 2023:

Growing Degree Days 2010-2023

Late ripening notwithstanding, the vineyard looks great. We're seeing outstanding vine health everywhere. This Syrah section, where we were doing a Biodynamic silica spray yesterday, is a great example:

Spraying Silica late July 2023

All the water that we got this winter has meant that our young vines are thriving. In this new Mourvedre block (which we've named the Santos Block after a much loved and deeply missed longtime member of our crew) you can see the two- and three-year-old Mourvedre vines looking green and happy:

Santos Block late July 2023

The older blocks that we've been working to regenerate, like this Syrah that we've been increasing our vine density through layering, are benefiting from the moisture in the soil too. You can see, if you look closely, how we've turned two healthy Syrah vines (the second and fifth from the left, as you look below) into five over the past few years, by burying the canes and letting them grow new roots:

The reserves of moisture have allowed us to continue planting later in the year than we'd normally think ideal. That's been important because the nurseries too were impacted by the cold, wet winter and have been slow to get us material that's robust enough to plant. Just this week, we completed the year's plantings with Vermentino and Picpoul (pictured) at the base of Jewel Ridge. These vines will get a little supplemental water the first two years, and then will be on their own:

Planting Picpoul on Jewel Ridge late July 2023

Overall, it's becoming clear that we're looking at a year unlike any that we've seen in our recent history. But I find comfort and context in remembering that the growing season over the last decade has been shifted much earlier than what was historically considered normal, driven by climate change and eight dry years in ten. If we don't start harvest until mid-September and don't finish until early November, which is what I'm guessing at this point, we can have the confidence that the Paso Robles climate should make that possible. Look at years like 2005 (start date September 21st, end date November 7th) or 2010 (start date September 16th, end date November 13th) or 2011 (start date September 20th, end date November 9th), all of which gave us wines we loved.

Will we see our latest-ever veraison? That seems possible, maybe even likely. I think it's less likely, though, that we'll eclipse our latest-ever start or finish to harvest. There's ample warm weather on the horizon, unlike 2010 and 2011. The world's baseline climate is warmer than it was a dozen years ago. And we've become comfortable with harvesting at somewhat lower sugar levels than we were back in that earlier era. But if it does come to pass, we'll take solace in the fact that the vines have the health they need to make this marathon possible. And that as unusual as it seems in our recent context, it's more or less what we were expecting when we settled here three decades ago.

Now, just hoping el nino holds off until Thanksgiving... 

Introducing Lignée de Tablas: Single-Vineyard Wines from Tablas Creek Clones around California

Here at Tablas Creek we're pretty cautious about jumping into new projects. In my 20 years we've made one significant addition to the lineup of wines, back in 2010 when we started working with a handful of Paso Robles vineyards to produce our first-ever non-estate wine, the Patelin de Tablas. That decision came after the shock of the 2009 vintage, where the combination of drought and frost reduced our crops by nearly 50% and forced us to choose between keeping our wine club and tasting room supplied and maintaining our presence in the wholesale and export markets. At the same time, the 2008 financial crisis and the recession that followed meant that there were high quality grapes available from Paso Robles vineyards at reasonable prices. We worked out agreements with our first eight growers and we were off.

The addition of the Patelin tier has played out just as I'd hoped, giving us the ability to maintain and expand our presence in the wholesale market, especially in restaurants' by-the-glass lists, while mitigating the peaks and valleys of production that are unavoidable in our frost- and drought-prone climate. The Patelin wines gave the category we're a part of entry-level wines that we were proud to use to introduce new customers to the category, while allowing us to be more selective about what we put into our estate wines. I think the quality of our Cotes de Tablas and varietal wines has never been stronger, in part because we've declassified into Patelin the lots that are pretty and friendly but maybe don't have the intensity or focus we wanted for our estate wines.

An unexpected benefit has been that we feel like we're more integrated into our community after having had the chance over the last decade to work with dozens of the small growers who make up the essential fabric of the Paso Robles wine community. You can get a sense of how much of a pleasure that process has been from the video that we made back in 2017 talking about the people behind Patelin:

The Patelin idea has worked because we've been able to find great sources of the key Rhone grapes, both red and white, here in Paso Robles. And that desire -- to make a wine that represents both our category and our region -- has meant that we've always limited our Patelin sourcing to vineyards in Paso Robles, with preference given to vineyards that have the same clones that we brought in from Beaucastel in the ground. But as a winery who built our reputation on making wines of place, each year there's a certain amount of regret in blending the product of beautiful vineyards together, even if the end result is something we're proud of.

Covid was the catalyst for a new idea. Just as the last economic shock -- the financial crisis and recession that followed, combined with our drought and frost -- opened up the opportunity to make the Patelin wines, we've realized that the challenges we've faced over the last three years point toward another new opportunity. And like in 2007-09, we have a three-year drought cycle (this one beginning in 2020) as a primary catalyst. By 2022 that drought had reached critical levels and its impact on our yields was worsened by our latest-ever spring frost. At the same time, the pandemic fueled a shift in the wine business where in 2020 and 2021 restaurant sales were down sharply and phone, internet, and wine club orders to wineries surged as people stuck close to home by choice or mandate. Together, those changes meant that we saw greater demand than ever before for our estate wines (the bulk of what we sell direct and to our wine club customers) just at the time when our own production was constrained by drought and frost. In the early stages of the pandemic we were able to shift some of our production of the Patelin wines from wholesale to our wine club and tasting room to satisfy the demand there, but that's not an ideal long-term solution. We need those wines in the wholesale market as restaurants have come roaring back. And we think it's more exciting to have the wines that we feature at our tasting room and send to our club members be different from those of our wines that they can find at their local bistro.

Enter Lignée de Tablas. This new tier of wines will debut with the 2022 vintage. It will consist of single-vineyard wines sourced from vineyards planted to Tablas Creek clones, made in small (250-850 case) quantities and sold direct from the winery. There are hundreds of vineyards up and down the West Coast planted with cuttings from the Tablas Creek nursery. In addition to Paso Robles, particularly exciting concentrations of these vineyards can be found in the Sierra Foothills, Santa Barbara County, Sonoma, and up in Washington State. Those other regions have never had the opportunity to be a part of our program... until now. And because our only non-estate wines have been the Patelins, we haven't had the opportunity to celebrate the unique expressions of place from these vineyards. Until now.

My long-term goal is for us to make three or four of these each year, but in 2022 we started with two. We'll be making a Grenache from the Hahn Vineyard in Monterey County, and a Grenache Blanc from Windfall Farms right here in the Creston District of Paso Robles. The Hahn Grenache isn't bottled yet and won't be released until next year, but it's impressive: darker in both color and fruit tone than any Grenache we make here, with firm tannins, lovely fruit, and the distinctive spice you get from cool-climate Grenache. The Windfall Farms Grenache Blanc is equally lovely, with the grape's classic citrus and green apple fruit and a pretty hint of sweet spice. It went into bottle a few weeks ago and will be included in our fall VINsider Wine Club shipments:

Lignee bottle next to grafter - landscape

Lignée, if you're wondering, means "lineage" in French. So Lignée de Tablas means, in essence, the lineage of Tablas Creek. All these wines will be made exclusively from Tablas clones. For design, we're keeping with the basic look and feel of our current labels, but identifying the vineyard name and the AVA on the front label. For color scheme, instead of the gold, silver, bronze, or copper foil of our current wines, we're using a black foil that hearkens back to the Las Tablas Estates Glenrose Vineyard experiment that we released in 2002. For price, we're planning to offer the wines between what we sell our estate varietal wines for and what we charge for the Patelin de Tablas. For the Windfall Farms Grenache Blanc, that will be $35 list, with the normal wine club and case savings off that. The label (you'll have to imagine the sparkle of the black foil):

Lignee de Tablas Windfall Farms Grenache Blanc 2022 Label

As for the wine, it's delicious. It was a favorite in our blending trials of the 2022 whites. My notes at the concluding tasting of the week were:

A pretty lifted nose nose of white pepper and citrus pith. On the palate, more citrus, with a green citrus leaf element adding complexity. With solid texture, good acids, and a little sweet spice on the finish, this should be a nice addition to the lineup!

For the 2023 vintage, we're venturing even further afield, and have been able to secure commitments from two great vineyards in the Sierra Foothills (Syrah from Shake Ridge and Grenache and Mourvedre from Fenaughty) as well as Roussanne from our friends at Zaca Mesa Vineyard down in Santa Barbara County. These are renowned vineyards whose fruit appears in some of our favorite California wines. That's one of the things I know we're all most excited about. Until this point we've set ourselves the task of exploring Paso Robles through the Rhone lens. We do that each year with our estate wines and through Patelin. But there are amazing Rhone-style vineyards all over California. When we go to Hospice du Rhone or Rhone Rangers, one of the things that is the most fun is to taste what our favorite producers from other regions are doing with these clones that we brought to America. With Lignée we'll be able to be a part of those explorations.

Still, it feels fitting that the first wine that we'll be releasing under the Lignée label will be from Paso Robles, and from Grenache Blanc. After all, Grenache Blanc is probably the biggest success story to come out of the Tablas Creek nursery. When we brought in our first vine cuttings, there wasn't a single Grenache Blanc vine planted in California. Thirty years later, it has leapfrogged both Roussanne and Marsanne to become the second-most-planted white Rhone variety in California (after Viognier) at 618 acres. It may not be a threat to knock Chardonnay off its throne any time soon, but its acreage is growing fast and its growing patterns incredibly well suited to California. We're excited that with the launch of the Lignée de Tablas we get to tell one more piece of Grenache Blanc's story.

Lignee bottle next to mothervine - portrait

But for us the most exciting piece of the Lignée de Tablas program is that we'll get to make new wines of place that will allow us to explore some of the other places whose wines we've long admired. There's nothing more fundamental to the lineage of Tablas Creek than that. We're looking forward to sharing these new expressions with you.

A Rhone Enthusiast Joins the Team: An Interview with Cellar Assistant Kaitlyn Glynn

Seeing a new team member join us at Tablas Creek is always exciting. Just recently, Kaitlyn Glynn joined our cellar team in advance of harvest 2023. She comes to us with tons of experience, much of it from other wineries in Paso Robles. It became evident that she is well-known and well-liked when she made a cameo on one of our Instagram posts, and most responses were addressed to her. In the newest piece for our Get to Know the Tablas Cru series, we sat down with Tablas Creek's newest employee to learn more about her path to our cellar.

 Who are you?

I'm Kaitlyn Glynn, the new cellar assistant at Tablas Creek. I just started at the beginning of June, about a month ago.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in north LA in a town called Tujunga. It's by the 101, in the mountains bordering the foothills. My family's all still there, and I go down all the time.

When and how did you get into wine?

I got into wine kind of by accident. I was applying to colleges and unsure what I wanted to do, but I knew I liked chemistry in high school. I applied to UC Davis for viticulture and enology. I decided to take a chance when I got accepted and started the program. On the first day of classes, my very first lecture was Intro to Viticulture. I just fell in love, and there was no going back.

Kaitlyn Glynn tasting wine at TCV
Have you worked in cellars before?

Yes, this is going to be my sixth harvest. I've worked in the lab as an enologist for the Riboli Family of San Antonio Winery here in Paso. I have been a cellar rat for many harvests. I did a little bit of viticulture work at my second harvest at Matchbook Wine Company up in Northern California. I've worked in tasting rooms. Most recently, I was pouring at Benom in Tin City. I also worked in a beer cellar for a while at Silva Brewing. So all sorts of things.

How did you end up working at Tablas Creek?

The last cellar position I held was in 2022 at Alta Colina, and the incredible winemaker there, Molly Lonborg, informed me of this opportunity and encouraged me to apply. That's how I heard about it, and with her help and support, I'm here.

What rituals do you have during harvest?

I don't know about rituals, but I definitely have a caffeine addiction that I develop during harvest. You know, some good cold brews, lots of shots of espresso. Just anything under the sun that has caffeine in it <laughs>. I manage to kick it afterward, but every year it comes back.

I also listen to a lot of music in the cellar during harvest. I like to make a playlist every year with my favorite songs, whether I listen to them while I'm working or on my drive to work, to pump me up to get ready for all of the hard work in front of me. I always try to find the best music to motivate me.

Kaitlyn Glynn in the Tablas Creek Cellar

What is the toughest harvest you ever participated in?

Every harvest has its challenges. I'd say the toughest would be last year's harvest with the heat wave. It felt like we went just overnight from zero to 100. And it was a lot of long hours and hard work, but the team was amazing. We did the best we could with the weather circumstances and rocked it out. It was so rewarding tasting the wines at the end after harvest and seeing all our hard work pay off.

 What is your ultimate goal in Cellar work?

Learn everything I can and be a part of making a beautiful product. I love working in the cellar. I love being hands-on, and I love learning. So it's been really rewarding working in cellars and just getting to do all those things.

If a genie said you could be a head winemaker anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

For me, it's not so much the where; it's the who I'm working with and what I'm doing. I want to be somewhere that is making varietals I'm interested in. I love Rhones; it's my current obsession. I love being here in Paso because we do Rhones so well in that California style. I want to be making something I'm passionate about and working with people who share that passion. The care that goes into the bottle and ensuring we celebrate each vintage and the unique property we're sourcing from is important.

What's the best bottle of wine you ever had?

The best bottle I've had recently was a Domain Laroche Chateauneuf du Pape. It's a hundred percent Grenache from about a hundred-year-old vines, insanely good.

Would you rather:

Cake or pie?

Pie, but it has to be homemade.

Breathe underwater or fly?

Definitely fly

 New World Wine or Old World Wine

New World

 Be a winemaker or a viticulturist?


Kaitlyn Glynn at TCV

A Regenerative Organic Certified Vineyard Tour of the North Coast

By Ian Consoli

As the vineyard that participated in the Regenerative Organic Alliance's pilot program and the first Regenerative Organic Certified® vineyard in the world, we at Tablas Creek have kept a watchful eye on the growth of wineries pursuing and achieving ROC® status (For more info on ROC, start with this blog post from our viticulturist Jordan Lonborg). Their current membership is 15 vineyards from around the world. That number includes wineries in California, Oregon, Chile, and Argentina, with 15-20 more applications from wineries in Austria, Japan, Italy, Chile, and California. I recently had an excuse to stay on the North Coast (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino) for a week, and I thought, "What would my perfect wine trip look like?" The answer is one composed of all ROC vineyards. After looking at the ROA's directory, I found five on the North Coast (four with tasting rooms and one without), and the four with tasting rooms line up to form a perfect one or two-day wine trip.

I took notes on my experience to share it here and encourage you to take the same trip. Here they are in the order in which I visited each of the four ROC wineries, with a bonus vineyard visit at the end:

ROC Tasting Room Roadtrip

Donum Estate

Donum Estate is an absolutely stunning 200-acre estate in Carneros. The property went through two significant revolutions since its original planting in 1990. First, when it was purchased by art collectors Allan and Mei Warburg in 2008, who adorned the estate with a globally renowned sculpture collection. Secondly, when they hired Director of Winegrowing Tony Chapman in 2019, and he made the ambitious decision to pursue biodynamic and, eventually, regenerative organic agriculture. These two passions combine to make one of the most memorable vineyard experiences in the world.

Tony Chapman and Derek Holmgren at Donum Estate

Tony and Associate Winegrower Derek Holmgren were my guides when I visited Donum. These guys both worked at Tablas Creek in 2013-2014 and witnessed the start of our animal program. What they are doing at Donum is extraordinary, from composting to on-site biochar production, a beneficial insect habitat program, and multi-species grazing with sheep, chickens, and ducks. Their cover crop included insectary rows of flowers like bachelor buttons, farewell to springs, California native poppies, and yarrow to attract beneficial insects that combat mealy bugs. They create compost teas from on-site biodynamic preparations. They even have their own Huglkultur site. Combine these practical, beautiful applications of regenerative agriculture with the world's most extensive accessible private sculpture collection, and you have one of the most beautiful vineyards I have ever seen. Donum has 340 acres over four properties with 160 acres under vine in Carneros, the Russian River Valley, and Sonoma Coast, all certified ROC, with a recently purchased 52-acre estate in Anderson Valley that they plan to convert over.

Donum specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with other small plantings of Merlot and Pinot Meunier. I tried their Rose of Pinot Noir, White Barn Pinot Noir, and West Slope Pinot Noir. One Pinot showed lovely bright yet intense fruit, while the other showed an earthy, serious character. You can find their wines and book your visit on their website. Their first ROC vintage is 2023, so expect to see the seal on their wine labels over the next year or two.

Grgich Hills

Grgich Hills Vineyard at Rutherford
Grgich Hills was founded by Napa pioneer, Miljenko "Mike" Grgich, who happens to be celebrating his 100th birthday this year! Happy birthday Mike. The pioneer of California wine is also a pioneer of organic and biodynamic agriculture. Our history with Grgich goes back over a decade. It was after a visit to Grgich that Robert Haas took back in March of 2010 that we decided to pursue biodynamics. So it was no surprise to hear Grgich joined ROC earlier this year.

I visited Grgich Hills' American Canyon vineyard, one of their five ROC vineyard sites. My hosts were the Head of Regenerative Organics, Bernat Sort Costa, Marketing Director Sally Camm, and Digital Marketing Specialist Luke Jeramaz. The site is stunning. There are beneficial flower plantings all along the road. They have begun experimenting with row hedges, where they sacrifice four rows of vines to plant a beneficial flower habitat that never gets mowed. They are one of fifteen wineries participating in a bird monitoring experiment with UC Davis. Each winery has multiple birdhouses staged to attract specific native birds. The houses track habits and collects feces to determine what birds eat what bugs. They graze hens, ducks, and Guinea fowl along with their sheep. They also built permanent beehives to home bees within their vineyards.

After touring the vineyard, Luke took me to their tasting room on Highway 29 to try some wine. An incredibly friendly and inviting staff was there to greet me near their closing time. I very much appreciated the experience. I tried multiple wines from their estates with standouts like the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Yountville Old Vine and 2018 Zinfandel. Their wines showed why they are Napa classics that I could go back to repeatedly.

You can purchase their wines and book a visit to their tasting room on their website. They also received ROC in 2023 and will put the seal on their bottles starting with the 2023 vintage.

 Medlock Ames

Medlock Ames co-founder Ames Morrison

Medlock Ames was established in 1998 by college friends Chris Medlock James and Ames Morison. Ames grew up on his father's organic farm but was really pursuaded by the value of organic farming when he was stationed in Guatemala with the Peace Corps. He saw how unsustainable crop planting led to a need for synthetic inputs and limited farmers on what they could do. So when Ames and Chris bought their vineyard, they knew they would farm and certify organic. More recently, Ames heard individuals he admired in the wine industry talking about regenerative viticulture. Their team visited Tablas Creek shortly after we became ROC, and they jumped into the certification process. They have a tasting room in Healdsburg with more immersive experiences at their Bell Mountain Ranch location. I met with Ames and their Head of Sales Operations, Isabella Bandeira de Mello, at the Bell Ranch location.

Their property is 338 acres, of which only 44 are planted to vines, all farmed ROC, and straddles the line between Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley appellations. Their practices include on-site composting, cover crops, and grazing sheep within vine rows. I joined Ames on a tour he gave to guests thrilled by the pillars and concepts of regenerative agriculture. Ames took the time to emphasize the importance of the Social Fairness pillar in regenerative agriculture. This pillar is one we see overlooked as the term "regenerative" is used increasingly, so seeing the founder of Medlock Ames' emphasis on it was what I would expect from a Regenerative Organic Certifed brand.

The wines at Medlock Ames are absolutely fantastic. I have seen their labels multiple times and, for whatever reason, their contents haven't made their way into my glass. It almost happened on this visit as well because I spent so much time absorbing the property I had to run to my next appointment. Luckily, I stopped into the tasting room on my way out for a splash of 2019 Bell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and 2019 Fifty Tons Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are different in character, despite being made with the same grape. Bell Mountain is almost refreshing on the palate, with bright fruit flavors and soft tannins. Fifty Tons shows more of the new oak it was aged in with a robust palate. Their flavor lingered on my palate even as I ran off to my next visit.

You can purchase their wines and book a visit on their website. I highly recommend the Bell Mountain Ranch experience.


Truett-Hurst Winery was co-founded by the late Paul Dolan. A true pioneer in organic, biodynamic, and regenerative agriculture, his recent passing was felt deeply by many in the wine industry. Paul was instrumental in establishing the Regenerative Organic Alliance by serving on its board and recruiting Executive Director Elizabeth Whitlow to run the organization. The Truett-Hurst winery is a tangible piece of his lasting legacy in viticulture, nestled along Dry Creek. Their tasting room is beautiful, serene, and a must-see experience.

Seating at Truett Hurst

The Truett-Hurst estate underwent revitalization after they purchased the land in 2007. It had been farmed conventionally for decades, and the process of converting to organic, biodynamic, and ROC was a challenge they were happy to accept for the sake of the land and the wine. They focused on the soil, creating on-site compost from pomace and organic cow manure, cover cropping, biodynamic applications, and grazing their goats and sheep during the dormant season. They utilize their property to help with Dry Creek's restoration, which reflects their appreciation for life and the land. Their estate stands as an example for conventional farmers interested in ROC but hesitant because of the road ahead. Truett-Hurst proves that the conversion can be done, and the results are worth every effort.

In addition to what they grow on their estate, they source exclusively from organic and biodynamic vineyards. I wanted to try all of their ROC wines, so the tasting room attendant was kind enough to pour me their 2019 Estate Zinfandel, 2019 Estate Petite Sirah, and 2019 Dark Horse GPS from Paul's home vineyard in Ukiah. All were rich and delicious.

You can buy the wines and book your visit on their website. You won't see the ROC seal on their bottles anytime soon because they use a custom crush facility for making their wines. It brings up a hurdle for smaller producers who go ROC in their vineyards but don't have a wine production partner willing to certify their facility organic.


Bonterra Organic Estates, formerly Fetzer Vineyards, is the bonus winery on this list. They do not currently have a tasting room, but I was invited to visit their estate in Mendocino County, the old Fetzer property called The McNab Ranch. In 1985 the Fetzer family built a food and wine center on this property, and the then-CEO of Fetzer Vineyards, Paul Dolan, inspired the company to pursue organic grape growing and establish the brand Bonterra in 1993. Bonterra grew to become one of the world's largest wine producers to exclusively utilize organic grapes. Their decision to pursue ROC is huge for the certification and wine industry. With about 850 acres Regenerative Organic Certified, they have the power to make wines with the ROC seal on their labels commercially and readily available. Their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon bearing the seal have already hit shelves nationwide. I met with their winemaker, Jeff Cichocki.

Bonterra Winemaker Jeff Cichocki

The McNab Ranch location is around 200 acres in Mendocino County. It is a beautiful place with beneficial flowers planted throughout and a creek running through the center of the property. Bonterra was an early adopter of biodynamics, and they continue to utilize biodynamic preparations and techniques. They limit their tillage, plant cover crop, and work with a local sheepherder to bring in around 3000 sheep to graze the property. Jeff showed a marked enthusiasm for ROC because of its benefits to the soil and how well consumers respond to the three pillars in the market. We were both in agreement that brands like ours still have a long way to go in communicating what makes regenerative agriculture important, but the Regenerative Organic Alliance developed a valuable platform for helping a broad range of consumers understand why regenerative agriculture matters to them.

As I mentioned above, Bonterra already released their ROC Chardonnay and Cabernet into the market. They currently sell them as a two-pack on their website for $40! Delicious and accessible, the opportunity to get great ROC-certified wines around $20 will open up the ROC world to a whole new audience of consumers.


It was evident from my trip that enthusiasm for ROC is at an all-time high. We have already heard from multiple wineries in the process of going Regenerative Organic Certified. It is exciting to feel what early pioneers of organic viticulture must have felt as they educated an entire generation of wine drinkers on the importance of organic grapes. I hope you'll take the time to visit these wineries and support everything this new age of pioneers is working towards.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments!