The Art and Science of Blending Rhone Varietals in California

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series.

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As lovers of Rhone blends, we eagerly traveled to Paso Robles in the spring of 2005 to attend a “blending seminar” at the Tablas Creek Vineyard. We love both the white and red blends from the southern Rhone Valley, among them the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cotes du Rhone, Gigondas and others. At home in California, we love the wines of the Tablas Creek Vineyard. So we were excited to attend this event and to learn more about blending these wines.

We were among about three dozen fans of Tablas Creek’s wines seated at tables set up in the winery among the stainless steel fermentation tanks. It was chilly in the winery and we were thankful we had brought sweaters.

Each table had 6 bottles of open wine, measuring beakers and other blending paraphernalia. Each place setting had many sparkling clear wine glasses and paper and a pencil for making notes.

The “seminar” was presented by Jason Haas, the general manager of Tablas Creek, and Neil Collins, winemaker. We were also pleased to be joined by Robert Haas, founder of the importer Vineyard Brands and one of the principal founders of Tablas Creek (along with the Perrins of Chateau Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape).

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.