Over the Hills, Through the woods, Tablas Creek we Go!

Early morning touring Tablas Creek Vineyards with Steve Fascinating, Here are the Highlights.  All of the vines were sent from Chateau Neuf de Pape they spent 3 years in quarantine before they could graft them to american root stock and plant them.  All were grafted in the nurseries on site.  They have a staff that monitor’s the vineyards year round so they do not need to depend on over hire during the harvest.  They also use legumes as a cover crop to put nitrogen back into the soil, also oats to bring in lady bugs which combat lace wing bugs.  The winery is owned in part by the Perrin family of Chateau neuf de pape in france who own the Chateau Beaucastel and Bob Haas  who is a wine importer.  Chateau Beaucastel does Rhone varietals and found the limestone and climate here on the westside of Paso Robles perfectly suited to growing these varietals. They found 120 acres here in Paso Robles and also farm in an adjacent farm with 160 more acres. They brought 80 cuttings from France which sat in quarantine for 3 years before being approved.  They set up a nursery on site and began grafting the cutting to American rootstock.  They are for the most part Mourvedre (they have 21 acres of Mourvedre) based with lots of Syrah.

Tablas Creek Limestone wall

After walking up and looking at the vineyards we went behind the tasting room to look at the limestone wall, which covers the side of the hill which is basically limestone beneath.  There is about 6 inches of top soil and the rest is limestone.  The 2 foot shales act as a reservoir for the rain.  They are turning much of the vineyard to head pruned plants which they find better reflect the terroir.  They typically get 2 to 3 tons of fruit per acre.  They work hard to maintain high quality compact berries.  Head pruned plants while they take more space, produce the same amount of fruit in the same space as trellised fruit.  Steve mentioned that the grape roots secrete and enzyme that dissolves limestone allowing the roots to got deeper for water and nutrients.  We discussed that this lets them go through more layers of rock and minerals.  It has been chemically proven that the vines take in ions and not minerals. So when we say we taste the slate in the terroir, that is not chemically possible, something else is going on there.  The vineyards are certified organic and most is meant to be dry farmed.  They do have part of the vineyard that is being grown biodynamically.  We discussed the care of the vineyard, that the staff is constantly in the fields, clearing, pruning etc…  The trellised vines have yet to be pruned and will probably be pruned in February when they are completely dormant.  He mentioned that each place where a leaf appeared last year has a bud at the base, which if sliced open would show you miniaturized versions of 3 or 4 grape bunches plush leaves.  So next years harvest is already somewhat determined and sitting there on the vines already!

More Tomorrow.