Moment In Wine History – Tablas Creek

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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.