Local Wine, Local Food: Biodynamic Wine and Lamb from Gold ROC Tablas Creek in Adelaida Hills, Paso

Tablas Creek

“What grows together goes together.” “Local wine, local food.” You can’t get much more local than sheep raised among the vines. Bonus: these vines and sheep grew together at Tablas Creek in the hills above Paso Robles only about 150 miles from my home (and much less as the crow flies!)

In between rainstorms on my way to spend a few days in Paso Robles, I headed north from my home in Ventura along the 154 and the 101 marveling equally at the native California Lilac in bloom, the unnerving devastation from the flood waters, and the rising reservoirs offering relief from the pressures of drought.  

The next day, on a chilly late winter morning just before historic snowfalls, I roved the hillsides of Tablas Creek located about 12 miles from the Pacific. Winemaker Neil Collins led the tour taking in the views where spring had not yet sprung but the landscape, while dormant, exuded life after years of drought. The abundant limestone rocks will absorb the rain–over 46 inches rain this season made roads impassable many days and an unusual 60+ below-freezing nights made bud break three weeks late, writes Neil’s son Austin in this blog post. Over the summer, the roots will take the moisture up.  

“Earth Day Every Day.”

In California, there is no leader in wine greater than biodynamic Tablas Creek which became the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) winery. On the day of my visit, Tablas Creek was being reviewed, and they hope to again achieve Gold. Tablas Creek achieved ROC in part through their partnership with outdoor clothing giant Patagonia.

old vine Tablas Creek February 2023 c. Art Predator

Among their accolades, Tablas Creek Vineyard earned the

“ENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices… Tablas Creek Vineyard is the recipient of the 2023 California Green Medal Environment Award for its proven commitment to environmental stewardship.”

Among other activities, Tablas Creek hosts seminars on various topics to teach others, including a day long work shop Friday April 14 on using  livestock in the vineyard (scroll down for animal images!). The property maintains 90 acres of oak woodland for wildlife, and they reduce their carbon footprint by being a 100% solar-powered winery. In addition to dry farming, Tablas Creek conserves water by steam-cleaning barrels and by capturing wastewater for reuse in a wetland area that provides habitat for native species.  

There’s a lot to say about the good work going on at Tablas Creek — in the vineyards and in the cellar! But today I will focus on five Tablas Creek wines paired with a Tablas Creek lamb dinner.

Check out the images below: you should be able to swipe through them and not click to go to Instagram to view them.

Read more about local wine and local food from these wine writers from regions across the US: 

Tablas Creek

Tablas Creek Wines

  • 2022 Tablas Creek “Patelin de Tablas Rose”

  • 2020 Tablas Creek “Esprit Blanc De Tablas”

  • 2020 Tablas Creek Vaccarese

  • 2020 Tablas Creek “En Gobelet”

  • 2017 Tablas Creek “Esprit de Tablas” 


  • Cheese Board:
    Speck, Old Amsterdam Goat Gouda, Mushroom Brie, Blue Cheese
  • Potatoes seasoned with Pereg’s Kosher Za’tar “Passover Blend”  
  • Tablas Creek grown rosemary braised lamb shanks instant pot version (recipe below)

Neil told me that it was A LOT of work to get the permissions and certifications required for them to sell their lamb on site. If you visit, definitely buy lamb to bring home to pair with your wines! 

2022 Tablas Creek “Patelin de Tablas Rosé”

2022 Tablas Creek “Patelin de Tablas Rosé”

ABV: 12.5%
SRP: $95  3 liters boxed rosé (equivalent of 4 bottles); sold out of 823 boxes (!) 
available by the bottle SRP $28
Grapes: 67% Grenache, 21% Mourvedre, 9% Counoise, 3% Vermentino
purchased at the winery with a 30%  industry discount

While you may know that it’s common to co-ferment a little Viognier with Syrah in Rhône wines, did you know that Provence Rosé wines often include some Vermentino aka Rolle? YEP!

But this is the first time Tablas Creek has tried it — and what a winner! This blend combines fruit from ten mostly organic and biodynamic, all sustainably farmed Rhône vineyards in Paso Robles. 

This is an amazing boxed wine– and even better, a rosé wine.

And as advertised, it lasts! It really stays as fresh as a daisy, and I opened mine over three weeks ago. My only regret is that I did not buy two boxes, especially since my husband (the beer drinker) fell in love with it too. The bag is great to fit in the fridge or an ice chest — just take it out of the box and it’s a go!

This rosé works with an amazing range of foods from grilled chicken to sushi to salmon to appetizers, and being in a box, you can experiment, and not feel committed to opening a bottle. As the bag inside the box deflates as wine is poured out, it stays fresh for weeks! 

Plus a 3L bag-in-box has a lower carbon footprint  of 84% less than glass bottles weighing only 7 pounds (compared to 11# in glass). They recommend enjoying it by the end of summer 2023. Read more about it in owner Jason Haas’s piece on the Tablas Creek blog.

Appearance:  Copper, rose gold, salmon, very pale

Aroma: Cherry, peach, blood orange, tangerine, a basket of fruit, mint, 

Palate: Apricot, blood orange, very tart fresh fruit, tangy, zingy, lovely roundness, lots of fruit flavor, a bit of watermelon, very drinkable and enjoyable with great complexity, 

Pairing: Over the top with the speck, no surprise rose loves smoked meat, this was no exception, good with the goat gouda, nice with the mushroom brie bringing forth a creme brulle feeling on the palate. The rose loves the Brussels sprouts, the potatoes, the seasoning and the rosemary lamb, great with the parsley finish of the dish as well. Perfect pairing with this lamb dish. Great with an Easter or Passover meal. With the meal the rose petals in the wine become so much more prevalent, The rosemary in the lamb marry so nicely with the wine. 

2020 Tablas Creek “Esprit Blanc De Tablas”

 2020 Tablas Creek “Esprit Blanc De Tablas”

ABV: 13%
SRP: $50 (750 ml bottle) 
Grapes: 46% Roussanne, 28% Grenache Blanc, 14% Picpoul Blanc, 5% Bourboulenc, 4% Clairette Blanche, 3% Picardan
given as a gift for winning the Jancis Robinson 2022 Wine Writing Competition on regenerative agriculture

Tablas Creek produced 1880 cases of this white blend in 2020.  Don’t be afraid to aly this down for a year or a decade; Neil shared older white wines with me that knocked my socks off!

Appearance:  Pale yellow, crystal clear, platinum rim, lemon yellow, 

Aroma: Herbs and minerals, butterscotch,  butterscotch pine, bee pollen, sage, lavender, lemon meringue, fennel, complex and inviting, rose wine does not always have a great nose this wine however is the exception to the rule, there is so much going on when it comes to aroma, with food on the palate all of the lovely minerals in the wine shine so nicely.

Palate: Lemon and herbs, ricola, clean and refreshing, essence of honey on the finish, fennel, very pleasing and easy to drink, such a nicely made wine, when food is on the palate there is the essence of guava on the palate

Pairing: We feel that this is more of a seafood fish type wine, even chicken roasted with rosemary and lemon, however we were curious how it would pair with our lamb shanks.  With the cheese plate, it loves the speck and the goat gouda, and went fine with the mushroom brie, Sue loved it with the blue cheese saying OMG! as the wine and the cheese mingled in her mouth. Sue wanted a blue cheese soufflé’s or a kale, speck, goat cheese gouda quiche. Very good with the seasoning on the potatoes and the Brussels sprouts. The richness of the lamb stands up to the tart acidity of the wine as the seasoning and the tomatoes in the dish works well with the lamb. If you were just grilling a rack of lamb this might not work so well together, but the braised meat works. 

2020 Tablas Creek Vaccarese

2020 Tablas Creek Vaccarese

ABV: 13%
SRP: $40 (sold out)
Grapes: Vaccarese
purchased at the winery with a 30%  industry discount

I tasted this wine at Rhone Rangers and FELL. IN. LOVE. I knew I had to buy a bottle and share it with Sue and go more in depth into it. This grape is wild and fascinating. And it either loves a food or hates it- no ifs, ands, or buts, so be prepared to experiment as it’s temperamental and responds really sensitively to different seasonings. Fortunately, after it is opened it lasted and tasted great for a week!

While Vaccarese is a traditional grape used in blending from the south of France that’s appreciated for dark fruit with juniper, sage, and tobacco, it fell out of favor: less than 30 acres was planted in 2016 in France. Tablas Creek used cuttings from the Château de Beaucastel estate to plant less than an acre, and so far so good. Very good if you ask me! This is their second vintage. So much potential for this grape in California that I hope others follow suit and try planting it. 

Appearance:  Red raspberry, ruby, raspberry fruit, fucshia rim, youthful, nice transparency. 

Aroma: Red raspberry, sage, musk, mint, white sage, cedar, cinnamon, nice perfume, nice sweetness, pastille candy, herbs. 

Palate: Very tart, interesting texturally, cherry tobacco, tobacco, green tea, black current tea, sticky tannins, mouthwatering acidity, cool and fresh at the back of the palate, this wine has a lot of character, while not a cocktail wine it should show nicely with the perfect meal.  This (and Spanish Mencia) are my new favorite grapes that I want to have more of in my life! 

Pairing: Fantastic with the mushroom brie, we felt that if there was pate on the cheese plate that the wine would be fantastic with that as well (and I tried it with pate later and yes it works!) Without food this wine was so bold and tannic, with food (especially food rich in fat) the wine becomes fruity and so much more assessable. Fabulous with the speck, very nice with the goat gouda, but absolutely fantastic with the lamb loving the richness and herbal spices in the meal. Sue put a piece of the mushroom brie on a bite of potato and found it over the top with the wine. 

2020 Tablas Creek “En Gobelet”

2020 Tablas Creek “En Gobelet”

ABV: 14%
SRP: $55 
Grapes: 37%, Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 22% Syrah, 11% Counoise, 5% Tannat
purchased at the winery with a 30%  industry discount

This blend of five estate-grown head-trained, dry-farmed sections of certified organic estate varietals is a head turner for me offering a clarity and vision of this terroir. In the tasting room, after my tour, I fell in love with this wine, and winemaker Neil Collins and I had fun comparing this blend in different vintages as well as comparing vintages of it with the Tablas Creek Esprit de tablas red blend (below find our notes about the 2017). 

And oh what a blend– leading with Grenache, and then almost equal amounts of Mourvedre and Syrah– and what’s that? Some grippy Tannat along with Counoise to round it out? 

For me, this wine offers a fascinating texturally and finesse with the earth shaking grunt of birth. 

Appearance:  Medium density, raspberry, cranberry, mauve rim, youthful, not very dense, nice transparency

Aroma: Pretty florals, rose potpourri, cinnamon stick, cedar, Ceylon cinnamon, raspberry, moist earth, violet, wet limestone, 

Palate: Fresh tart raspberry, strawberry, roasted strawberry, cherry tobacco, structured tannins, nice acidity, clean and fresh rosemary, eucalyptus on the finish,  

Pairing: Good with the mushroom brie, very nice with the goat cheese gouda loving the funk of the goat milk in the cheese, fabulous with the creamy blue, makes the almonds on the plate so sweet, very good with the  jerk spiced cheddar, insanely good with the speck. The Zatar seasoning works so well with the wine, as well as the roast on the veggies. While I liked the potatoes with the wine, I found that the Brussels sprouts were so much better. The wine is perfect with the rich fatty lamb. Yum!

2017 Tablas Creek “Esprit de Tablas”

2017 Tablas Creek “Esprit de Tablas” 

ABV: 14.5%
SRP: $70 ($145 for a magnum)
Grapes: Mourvedre 40%, Grenache 35%, Syrah 20%, Counoise 5%
Magnum of this wine given as a gift for winning the Jancis Robinson 2022 Wine Writing Competition on regenerative agriculture; 
4090 cases produced of the typical size 

Budwood cuttings from their Rhone partner Beaucastel make this wine extra special, but for me, I love that it leads with minty, meaty Mourvedre; I love how this pairs with grenache with syrah and Counoise as supporting players in complexity. I used my coravin on this wine and it is all I can do to keep from mainlining this into my glass on the regular. But by using the Caravan, I can come back to the wine later for another pairing (DUCK!) 

Appearance:  Ruby, mauve rim, medium density,

Aroma: Just fantastic, cherry and plum, baking spices, chaparral, sage, dried earth, very inviting and interesting, as the wine continues to open up temple spices are prevalent, church incense, magical, 

Palate: Bright fruit, cherry, raspberry, plum, depth of character and richness, great texture, chewy, bramble fruit, a bit of twig, long lingering finish leaving not just a beautiful feeling in the mouth but also such lingering satisfying fruit and minty herbs. 

Pairing: Fantastic with the mushroom brie, yummy with the creamy blue, nice with our goat gouda, fabulous with the jerk spiced cheddar the spice in the wine loves the spice in the cheese. Very nice with the speck loving the smoke flavors in the meat. Amazing meal with an amazing wine. this wine loves all the rich fattiness of the meal and the savory spices. The meat is rich and complex and the wine has more than enough complexity. One says “Oh your beautiful” and the other says that “we work well together” Any restaurant that has lamb on the menu should have this wine on the menu to go with the meal. It cuts through the richness and marries the complexity of the flavors. Lovely wine and lovely meal. If someone were vegetarian, even the oven roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts with the zatar seasoning work so well with the wine. 

Check out the images below: you should be able to swipe through them and not have to click to go to Instagram to view them.

Instant Pot Herb and Wine Braised Lamb Shanks
serves 2-3


  • 2 Lamb Shanks
  • 1 Shallot minced
  • 5 Cloves garlic minced
  • 6 oz Petite Carrots
  • 1 C Red Wine
  • 1 C broth of your choice (we used organic turkey broth because that is what we had)
  • 1 sprig each of fresh thyme, rosemary, and marjoram
  • 1 14 oz can fire roasted diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 T Olive Oil


  • Set instant pot to saute and heat the olive oil
  • Brown Lamb Shanks on all sides
  • Add onion and stir to saute for about 3 minutes
  • Add carrots and garlic, stir 1 min
  • Stir in flour and saute for 1 minute
  • Add all other ingredients
  • Set instant pot to stew meat and let cook
  • To thicken gravy, mix 2 T water and 2 T cornstarch, Set instant pot to saute, whisk in cornstarch and water and boil till desired thickness. 

Check out the images below: you should be able to swipe through them and not have to click to go to Instagram to view them.


Wine Pairing Weekend 2023 Calendar
links to completed posts


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