Have you ever stared into the garnet depths of a great wine and wondered how all the many layers of labor and love came together to produce what’s in your glass?
I’ll be spending the next year-ish plus exploring every aspect of winemaking–from tending the vines to blending the wines–as it unfolds on the beautiful Adelaida District estate of Tablas Creek Winery.
Renowned for their traditionally styled Rhône wines, Tablas Creek understands that their interaction with the land through every season has a significant impact on the wines they produce. They farm organically, and are on the verge of obtaining their biodynamic certification. They keep a small flock of sheep on property (kept company by a pair of very protective donkeys, a llama, and a handful of alpaca), which are used for weed control and fertilization. They have multiple hives of wild-caught honeybees to help with pollination. There are scattered fruit orchards, and a small grove of olive trees (they also produce a lovely estate olive oil). They take great care with every aspect of farming wine grapes, striving to coax the best expression of the land those vines are rooted into–from the refined minerality of the calcareous soil of their Santa Lucia foothill slopes to the intense complexity of fruit touched by brilliant west Paso sunshine and cool coastal nights.
I’ll delve into the “new year” of winemaking that starts just as the previous year’s harvest concludes–the deceptively quiet time in the vineyard when the vines go dormant and the planning and tending shifts from harvesting this year’s grapes to looking ahead to next year’s growing season.
We’re very close to that transition, as harvest is now in full swing–I’ll spend the intervening time introducing you to the Tablas Creek estate and their approach to making wine. I’ll show you their land–both the wild and tamed parts of the estate (named for Tablas Creek, which flows through it). We’ll explore the technical minutiae of viticulture, the choices that are made in the vineyard and in the lab, and the human connection to all of that. The amount of passion, skill and plain old hard work that goes into producing every bottle of wine is pretty astonishing when you pause and take a close look–so the next time you stare into those garnet depths, you’ll have an even greater appreciation for that beautiful liquid.
Follow this story with me over the next year, and we’ll discover together.