HWC News

Moment In Wine History – Tablas Creek

Scot Website

Presented By: Scot Cohen

There are many influential individuals that have made their mark in the bustling wine industry, but few have been dubbed an “American Icon” by Wine Enthusiast. The Haas family has played a leading role in the American wine industry for over half a century but to understand this epic narrative, one must start from the beginning…

After graduating from Yale in 1950, Robert Haas joined his father’s firm, M. Lehmann, Inc., a retailer of fine wines and spirits in Manhattan. As a buyer for the company and its import arm, Leeds Import Company, Haas traveled through the cellars of France, establishing a formidable reputation as a wine taster while forging lifelong relationships with premier wine producers.

In the mid-1960s he set out on his own to import fine estate wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley, where he met the Perrins of Château de Beaucastel and became the exclusive American importer for Château de Beaucastel.  He founded importer Vineyard Brands and as his company grew, it introduced the American market to brands such as La Vieille Ferme, Marqués de Cáceres, Warre’s Port, Girardin, Alsace Domaine Weinbach, and Burgundy Domaines Gouges, Sauzet, Ponsot, Mongeard-Mugneret, Dauvissat, Matrot, Carillon, and Michel among others.  The company also served as a representative for newly emerging California wineries in the early seventies, including Chappellet, Freemark Abbey, Clos du Val, Joseph Phelps, Rutherford Hill, Hanzell, Kistler, and later Sonoma-Cutrer.  He founded the symposium “Focus on Chardonnay” in 1984 to promote dialogue between producers in Burgundy and California and he also created the first ever French-American Rhône Symposium, which was held at the Meadowood Club in the Napa Valley in 1990.

Haas is one of four American members of the Académie Internationale du Vin. In recognition of his contributions to the international wine community as an importer, a vintner, and an advocate for quality, he was elected as the AIV president in 2000.  He was recognized by the Paso Robles Wine Community as 2007 Wine Industry Person of the Year, and in 2014 received a lifetime achievement award from Rhone Rangers for his contributions to the American Rhone movement.

Robert’s legacy did not stop there though. His son Jason has already made monumental contributions to the esteemed brand that is Tablas Creek. Jason Haas, the son of Tablas Creek Vineyard founder and renowned importer Robert Haas, learned the wine business at an early age, accompanying his family on yearly European wine-buying trips and spending two summers working at Château de Beaucastel.

After obtaining a Master’s Degree in Archaeology from Cornell and spending a four-year stint managing a tech company in Washington, DC, Jason moved to California to join Tablas Creek in April of 2002.  At Tablas Creek, he oversees the business, winemaking, and sales and marketing operations.

In addition to his work at Tablas Creek, Jason is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, a past president of the Rhone Rangers, and a former board member of the Family Winemakers of California. His writing has been published in Wine Business Monthly, Wines & Vines, Decanter, Wine Industry Network and Zester Daily, and he is the principal author of the Tablas Creek blog, which has been a finalist at the Wine Blog Awards for Best Winery Blog eight times since 2008, winning in 2008 and 2011.

As General Manager of Tablas Creek since 2006, Jason has consistently spoken in favor of organic viticulture, wines of place, the potential of Paso Robles, and the quality of Rhone grape varieties. He has spoken on wine and winemaking topics to audiences around the country, including the Unified Grape & Wine Symposium, Central Coast Insights, American Wine Society, California Wine Summit, Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, Hospice du Rhône, Central Coast Wine Classic and many others.

In recognition of his contributions to the Paso Robles wine community, he was voted by his peers 2015 Paso Robles Wine Country Wine Industry Person of the Year and 2017 San Luis Obispo County Wine Industry Person of the Year.  He manages the day to day operations at Tablas Creek.

It is our great pleasure, at Heritage Wine Cellars, to represent this emblematic brand and our great honor to be acquainted with this extraordinary family. Their story is nothing short of inspirational in the business we all love; Wine.


A Moment In Wine History-Concrete


By: Max Wolod

“Wait…Did you say concrete?!” “Yes! Concrete!”

As many wine aficionados know, concrete and wine have gone hand in hand since time immemorial. Well, maybe not quite that long but ancient enough that it is an age-old vessel of wine fermentation!

When many think about how wine was made in ancient times, we like to believe that the Greeks were stomping around gleefully in their flowing togas. However, this was not always so.

Concrete as a fermentation and aging vessel for wines goes waaaaay back…

  • Ancient Greece (amphorae/ceramic vessels)
  • Historical French wine-making in Bordeaux and the Rhone; also Spain, etc.

The tradition continued in Europe but was shunned in the US during the “new wave” of American winemaking starting a few decades ago.

Benefits of Concrete

Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all

–    Wineries spend a RIDICULOUS amount of money on cooperage…

  • It’s a bit difficult to get specific costs associated with cooperage (for obvious reasons), but for standard 60g barrels…

–    New American Oak – around $400/barrel

–    Good/fancy/famous French Oak – $700-$1000

  • A big winery might spend $2M on cooperage per year!

–    Concrete is not as porous as barrels, so regardless of shape, evaporation loss is quite small compared with barrels.

–    The American concrete industry standard “NuBarrel” is 240G capacity; it’s approximately $2K more than the aggregate cost of 4 standard oak barrels ($6500), BUT…

  • ​Oak lasts 4-6 years – disregarding use after neutrality – concrete can last 40-60 years! à DURABILITY BABY!!!


“Sweet spot” between stainless and oak…

Concrete is porous on a microscopic scale, allowing for SLOW micro-oxygenation.

Wine fermented in concrete has the round mouthfeel of wine fermented in oak, but it has much greater purity of fruit flavor, even a greater intensity of fruit color, a la stainless.

​Noticeable differences in texture and perceived volume

”Reds come out more accessible, earlier, than wines from stainless fermentations.”

“Whites get the richness of barrel fermentation, which doesn’t happen in steel, without any oak character, while retaining the aromatic complexity that might be preserved in steel.”

Heat Neutrality

“It don’t get too hot, it don’t get too cold!”

  • Thermal Inertia

–    ​The sheer mass of concrete containers, with walls 4 inches or more thick (full of tiny, insulating air bubbles), moderates temperature changes and prevents sudden heat spikes (natural insulator).

–    If a winemaker needs a heating or cooling plate as an insert, that can be arranged.

–    ​The thermal properties of concrete create unique fermentation kinetics, naturally encouraging a kind of cold soak at the slow start of the fermentation cycle and holding temperatures constant for extended maceration afterward.

The Liechtenstein of Wine Vessels…

  • Concrete is entirely neutral, imparting no flavors of its own, thereby mimicking the advantage of steel over wood: the upsides of both methods without the downside of either (sweet spot y’all!).

–    “Concrete lets the terroir that shaped the grapes shine through, not shrouded in oak, not masked by reduction.”

  • That said…what if we want some oak up in thurrr?

–    Concrete GOT you…

  • Internal array of oak staves
  • Removable sleeve of oak chips
  • Blending with traditional oak-aged juice

How ‘bout some hippy-dippy stuff?

  • Michel Chapoutier (took over Maison M. Chapoutier in ‘77), top Hermitage producer for generations and SUPER advocate for bio-D, claimed the shape of the egg concentrated celestial energy.
  • He was hanging with a guy from Nomblot (big French stone/concrete manufacturer) at a funeral; “Yo, one of those nice little monuments would make a great fermentor.”
  • For a while, the sizes were apparently described as three-body, six-body and so on.
  • In an egg-shaped concrete fermentation tank, the juice motion is a swirl, circling from top to bottom, naturally stirring the sediment to provide complexity – it’s celestial baby…and it looks sooooo dope!
  • With no corners, the wine is free to circulate naturally during fermentation, and you can actually watch the wine move during this process of constant stirring.
  • The shape also forces more of the cap to remain submerged, gleaning the utmost in fruit flavor and color for your wine and reducing your need for punchdown.

Detriments of Concrete Does it suck? Why does it suck?

It’s heavy as hell (relative to stainless/wood)…

Shipping costs

Ease of movement on-site/modularity (need a big-ass forklift)

Upfront cost (bigger outlay than for oak or stainless)


​Concrete tanks need to be “cured” before by rinsing surfaces with a strong solution of tartaric acid to neutralize the surface.

Care must also be taken in cleaning concrete; it can handle scrubbing and cleaning agents better than barrel wood, but not hot water or steam, which will lead to cracks.

“Fakin’ the funk” (can staves/inserts really replicate true oak-aging?)


And there you have it Ladies and Gents. Concrete: the coolest way to make vino. Cheers!









A Wedge of Life

By Keogh Hepp, Sales Representative

We would love to help you pair the perfect wine!
Reach out to your sales representative or call our office to start the conversation.

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Dalla Terra Spring Wine Tasting 2017

We had the opportunity to explore many of our wonderful Italian wine producers at the Dalla Terra Spring Wine Tasting!


Thank you to all of our participating producers from Dalla Terra Winery Direct and to all of our customers that were able to join us! Additional photos from the event can be found on our Trade Events page.

Valentine’s Day Wines

Wine is constant proof that God loves us and likes to see us happy.
(Benjamin Franklin)

Valentine’s Day quickly approaches and we invite you to explore the Heritage Wine Cellars Valentine’s Day Wine offerings. We are proud to share our incredible diversity of producers. Please take a look at our Valentine’s Day offerings and celebrate the day of romance with one of our exclusive offerings. Wine your Valentine, spoil you loved ones with one of our Sparkling Wines!

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Letters to Santa 2016

‘Tis the season for sharing and coming together to help others in need! This year marks the seventh year that Heritage Wine Cellars has participated in the “Letters to Santa” program sponsored by the Chicago Sun Times.
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Many of the children come from low-income families and would otherwise not receive any gifts during the holidays. As a company we have all come together to hopefully make this a holiday season to remember for those children. HWC Employees and their families have “answered” over 80 letters this year and granted their wishes. All of us at Heritage Wine Cellars hope you have a very Happy Holiday season!
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Best ways to communicate with HWC Order and Accounts Receivable departments

Dear valued customers,

As we are heading into our busy season here at Heritage Wine Cellars, we would like to remind you of the best ways to communicate with our Order and Accounts Receivable departments.

To place your orders, please email: Orders@heritagewinecellars.com

Please include the name of your company, customer account number, product name, varietal, vintage, quantity, and contact information.  If you have any questions on pricing or deals, please contact your sales representative.  In order to ensure that your order will be delivered on your next delivery day, please e-mail the order department before 6:00pm.  The Order department is also available by phone at 847-965-3625 x216. If you choose to e-mail your order instead of calling, an acknowledgement of receipt of your order will be sent via e-mail reply.

To contact our Accounts Receivable department, please email: AR@heritagewinecellars.com

Please be as descriptive as possible in your correspondence and allow 24 hours for a response.  Our Accounts Receivable department may also be contacted by phone at 847-965-3625 x238, and is available Monday through Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm.

We value your business and are committed to providing the highest quality of service.

-HWC Operations Department

Black & White Party 2016

Our first annual Black & White Party, featuring wines of Charles Smith & K Vintners, was a great success! Our guests were able to taste and enjoy the limited production wines produced by Washington winemaker Charles Smith.

IMG_0782Thank you to all of our customers who were able to join us for the party!  Photos from the event can be found on our Trade Events page.

Mediterranean Wine Tasting 2016

Once again we have had the opportunity to explore many of our wonderful wine producers from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France!


Thank you to all of our participating producers and to all of our customers who were able to join us for our annual Mediterranean Wine Tasting as well as the Greek Wine Seminar which was held by Diamond Wine Importers.  Additional photos from the event can be found on our Trade Events page.