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Central Coast Wine Insider Blog

Central Coast Wine Insider Blog

Neil Collins of Tablas Creek, Paso Robles

Neil Collins, the winemaker for Tablas Creek, embarked on his journey in Bristol, England, where he cultivated his culinary skills as a chef before venturing into winemaking. His professional path led him through significant experiences, including positions with John Munch at Adelaida Cellars and Ken Volk at Wild Horse. It was at Adelaida where Neil crossed paths with luminaries like Robert Haas and the Perrins of Château de Beaucastel during their quest for Tables Creek. Captivated by the project, Neil offered his services, spending a transformative year at Château de Beaucastel.

By year’s end, Neil’s dedication earned him the winemaker position at Tablas Creek, where he has since stewarded both the organic vineyard and the winery with unwavering commitment since 1998. His winemaking philosophy is simple yet profound: great wines stem from exceptional grapes, nurtured through fermentation as naturally as possible.

Beyond Tablas Creek, Neil’s vision extends to Lone Madrone winery, a venture he shares with his sister Jackie and wife Marci. Outside the vineyards, he pays homage to his roots through Bristol’s Cider and Bristol’s Cider House, preserving the cider tradition of his southwest English upbringing.

In recognition of his contributions, Neil was honored as San Luis Obispo County Winemaker of the Year in 2013 and named Paso Robles Wine Country Wine Industry Person of the Year in 2019.

#breakawaywinetours #pasowine #visitpaso #winemaker #rhonewines #fortheloveofwine #cawine #visitslocal #winemakerwednesday

Justin Smith of Saxum, Paso Robles

Today, we toast one of our favorite Paso Winemakers, Justin Smith of @saxumvineyards

Saxum Vineyard’s founder, Justin Smith, is Paso Robles’ first vintner to be raised in the vines and has developed a deep respect for each of his seven vineyard sites and the Rhone style wines he produces. The high quality, low yielding winery is credited for revolutionizing Paso Robles winemaking.

Their Templeton Gap/Willow Creek location is characterized by rocky calcareous soils, steep hillsides, perfectly sunny days, and cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean. This Central Coast rock star focuses on producing Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre blends; crafting some of the most sought after and expensive wines in Paso Robles history.

The production is up to 4,000 cases with 38 of his wines scoring over 95 points by the Wine Advocate and Saxum’s 2007 James Berry Vineyard earning Wine Spectator’s 2010 Wine of the Year. Smith eagerly shares his experiences and knowledge with his neighbor winemakers and utilizes the help from his childhood friends in the cellar. Uniqueness and creativity is found on the bottle as their labels are crafted by a local artist, making it as highly expressive as their wines.

#winemakerwednesday #breakawaywinetours #pasorobles #sharepaso #fortheloveofwine #travelpaso #cheers #wine