Climate change in two California vineyards
Twenty miles to the west, another idealistic estate, Tablas Creek Vineyard, had a very different experience. Like AmByth, Tablas grows biodynamically. In 2020, it became the first vineyard in the country to receive regenerative organic certification, which requires meeting standards to encourage soil health and promote animal welfare and farmworker equity.
It’s much bigger than AmByth, with six times the vineyard. It has a visitor center, parking and professional reception staff. When visitors come up the hill to visit AmByth, Robyn Hart meets them and serves them the wine.
Tablas Creek also produces superb wines, although more conventional than those of Ambyth, mainly blends and varietal wines made from 16 southern Rhone grape varieties.
Unlike AmByth, Tablas started with a serious plan. The owners are a partnership of two families with a long experience in wine. The Perrin family, in the southern Rhone Valley of France, owned Château de Beaucastel, a revered Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate, for generations. The Haas family in the United States had a successful wine importing business, Vineyard Brands.
In the mid-1980s, the families decided to look together for a property in California to cultivate Rhône grape varieties. After a long search, they settled on a 120-acre site west of the town of Paso Robles, just 12 miles from the Pacific.
They chose the site because the rocky soils were geologically related to those of Beaucastel, the climate was similar to the Mediterranean, and because they believed the annual rainfall would allow them to farm without irrigation, as in Beaucastel.
Planting only began in 2003, as the vines, imported from Beaucastel, had to go through quarantine in the United States. When they set up their first vineyard, said Jason Haas, the general manager, they tried to plant as densely as Beaucastel, with many more vines per acre than was typical in old California vineyards that were cultivated. dried up.