Villa Creek

Country of Origin: USA
Location: Willow Creek District, Paso Robles
People: Cris & JoAnn Cherry, Owners | Cris Cherry, Winemaker
Viticulture: Certified Biodynamic


Villa Creek 2020 'Cherry House' White, Paso Robles Login In Stock
Villa Creek 2022 'Cherry House' White, Paso Robles Login AG 89 In Stock
Villa Creek 2021 'Cherry House' Rose, Paso Robles Login In Stock
Villa Creek 2020 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles Login JD 94 In Stock
Villa Creek 2021 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles Login WS 91 JD 94 In Stock
Villa Creek 2020 'Cherry House' Red, Paso Robles Login AG 91 In Stock
Villa Creek 2019 'High Road' Red Rhone Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles Login JD 94-97 WA 96 In Stock
Villa Creek 2021 'Rocks & Flowers' Red, Paso Robles Login AG 93 JD 92 In Stock

Cris Cherry knows everyone in Paso. Or seems to. Cris and his wife JoAnn moved to Paso Robles in 1996 to open their farm-to-table restaurant called Villa Creek. Inspired by the burgeoning Paso wine scene, the Cherry’s decided to try their hands at winemaking. In 2001, they produced their first vintage under the same name, Villa Creek Cellars. Over the years Cris has honed his craft: earlier harvests, more stem inclusion, and less oak usage. He and JoAnn are hands on with every aspect—a dedication of time and passion that ultimately led them to close their restaurant in 2017. The result is a flight of wines that present structure and depth, plus lip-smacking deliciousness. These are wines with muscle and class—bodybuilders who can ballroom dance.

In 2003, the Cherrys’ purchased 60 acres in West Paso that bears remarkable resemblance to some of the great Southern Rhône estates. The estate, known as the MAHA Estate, contains an extreme topography of south and west facing slopes that climb to 1,800 feet. The Cherrys’ home and 3,000-square-foot winery are on this same property. In the spring of 2012, they planted their first grapevines—four acres of biodynamically farmed Garnacha planted on the calcareous and siliceous shale hillsides surrounding the tasting room. MAHA has expanded to a total of 13 acres of vines; grape varieties include Carignan, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Roussanne, Clairette and Garnacha. The vines are gobelet trained to create natural canopies for shade since Paso can get very hot. Every other row is tilled to keep biodiversity. Sheep help mow and fertilize. Though they did put in irrigation, dry farming is the intent. In 2015, MAHA earned Demeter biodynamic and CCOF organic certification.

They continue to purchase grapes from the region’s most esteemed vineyards: Denner, James Berry, and Luna Matta. All are organically and sustainably farmed. West Paso accounts for 90% of the grapes purchased. Per acre leases ensure that the grapes are harvested from the same special blocks each vintage. These contracts also allow Villa Creek to influence certain farming practices such as how many clusters will hang on each vine and when to pick.

Media Links
The Vintner Project: MAHA Wines: Bridging the Biodynamic Gap in Paso Robles

Vinous 2/2020
"There’s no question that the wines here are steadily becoming more refined, regardless of the heat of recent vintages. Sourced as they are from cooler sites on the west side of Paso Robles, there’s always a degree of freshness to these wines, as Cherry points out, but I’ve found that his winemaking has also been going steadily deeper on delicacy and detail rather than power over the last five or so years, a move that’s highly welcome."

Vinous 9/2018
"JoAnn and Cris Cherry’s Villa Creek Cellars has been part of Paso Robles’ upper tier of producers for some time. Now that they are committed full-time to their 60-acre vineyard and winery, their wines have never been better. Cris Cherry told me that he began making a conscious move toward great elegance and balance a few years ago, and the results show, even in warm, drought-affected vintages like 2016."

Vinous 11/2017
"The biggest challenge in the recent drought years is “obviously, getting as much finesse out of such concentrated fruit”, Cris Cherry told me. But that’s always a concern in a hot region, he added, noting that he thinks that raising his wines in large format, low-impact vessels, especially concrete tanks, allows for slower and gentler extraction and more delicate character in the final wines. In addition, he has been upping his use of whole clusters, “when it’s appropriate”, in an effort to impart greater aromatic complexity and spiciness to his wines. There’s no question that recent vintages here have seen a steady rise in quality as well as energy and I’d confidently place this winery among the upper tier of the Central Coast. Of particular interest to Cherry these days is working with his new, estate-grown Clairette, the southern Rhône variety that’s the backbone of many of the best examples of Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc. Look for interesting things to happen here soon as his vines come further into maturity. By the way, this summer Cherry closed his ever-popular and excellent Villa Creek restaurant, which was a long-time haunt for visitors to the region, as he wants to devote all of his energy to his vineyard and winery.

Wine Advocate 8/2016
"Winemaker Chris Cherry continues to produce a bevy of unique wines from his estate high up off of Peachy Canyon Road. The wines have shifted in style over the past decade, and today they're much more savory and stem-dominated (most are fermented with 100% whole cluster and aged in a good portion of concrete) than in the past. I suspect the majority of these new releases will benefit from short term cellaring to let the stems integrate."

Vinous 9/2016
"This year's releases from Cris Cherry represent the most complex and refined wines that I have yet tasted from Villa Creek, a fact that Cherry simply attributes to "more time in the vines and more time in the cellar." Cherry notes that he is trying to fine-tune and focus his farming and winemaking by delegating more of his responsibilities at his iconic (and consistently excellent) Paso Robles restaurant, also called Villa Creek, so that he can devote as much energy as possible to wine-growing. Based on his more recent wines I think that the positive results are becoming clear.

Wine Advocate 8/2014
"Winemaker Cris Cherry continues to push the whole cluster and savory style in his wines, while not losing the core of fruit that the region is known for. These new releases all have rich, tannic profiles that benefit from air, and will be even better in another year or two."

Vinous 7/2014
"Proprietor Cris Cherry describes 2012 as similar to 2010, but riper than 2011 and less challenging than 2013 in terms of managing alcohols and sugars. Cherry is among the many producers who have backed off the ripeness levels of years past, while increasing the use of whole clusters and neutral oak, all of which allow the wines to express gorgeous varietal and site-specific nuance. Villa Creek doesn't get as much attention as some of the higher-profile properties in town, but the wines are as good as anything coming out of Paso Robles these days. Readers who haven't tasted these wines in a few years are missing out."

The Wine Advocate 8/2013
"Cris Cherry’s Villa Creek is located on the western side of Paso Robles, high up off Peachy Canyon Road. He continues to experiment with Rhone and increasingly Spanish (think Rioja and Priorat) varieties, as well as with varying amount of whole-cluster inclusion. The wines offer singular, unique profiles, with loads of flavor and character."


  • Villa Creek 2019 'High Road' Red Rhone Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 94-97 (9/30/2021)

    Looking at the barrel sample, the 2019 High Road James Berry Vineyard sports a dense purple color to go with terrific aromatics of dark fruits, ground pepper, game, and liquid violets. Full-bodied, rich, and concentrated, it has freshness, purity, and loads of class. I continue to love the wines from JoAnn and Cris Cherry, and these latest 2019s are brilliant across the board. These are pure Paso Robles goodness and deliver incredible charm and pleasure while always staying balanced and elegant.
  • Villa Creek 2020 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 94 (9/26/2022)

    The 2020 Avenger has subtle aromatics but brings plenty of richness and texture. Darker fruits, cassis, ground pepper, and leather define the aromatics, and it has a great mid-palate, ripe tannins, and a great finish. It's a terrific Syrah from a more challenging vintage. Count me impressed. The blend is 40% Syrah, 35% Carignan, 21% Petite Sirah, and the rest Grenache, from the MHAH Estate and Luna Matta vineyards, that spent 18 months in mostly neutral barrels.
  • Villa Creek 2020 'Cherry House' Red, Paso Robles
    Rating: 91 (11/15/2021)

    High-pitched red fruit, floral and spice qualities on the incisive nose. Juicy and energetic on the palate, offering zesty raspberry, boysenberry and candied lavender flavors sharpened by a spicy suggestion of white pepper. Finishes long and tight, with smooth tannins and lingering spiciness.
  • Villa Creek 2019 'High Road' Red Rhone Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 96 (12/30/2022)

    The 2019 High Road James Berry Vineyard, a Rhône blend dominated by Mourvèdre this vintage, has a medium ruby-purple color and lush blueberry, raspberry and rhubarb on the nose with touches of cracked pepper, eucalyptus and tangerine. The palate is finely texture and fresh, its fragrant fruits polished and supple. Offer it another 2-3 years in bottle to unwind.
  • Villa Creek 2021 'Rocks & Flowers' Red, Paso Robles
    Rating: 93 (3/1/2023)

    The 2021 Rocks & Flowers wafts up with a Grenache-driven bouquet with wild strawberries, sweet florals and spice. Round and juicy in character, this impresses with a reverberation of zesty acidity that adds wild energy as ripe raspberry fruits cascade throughout. It finishes crisp and fresh, only gently tannic, while calling the taster back to the glass.

  • Villa Creek 2022 'Cherry House' White, Paso Robles
    Rating: 89 (5/18/2023)

    The 2022 White from Cherry House blends young peaches and honey florals with a refreshing zest of lime. It's crisp and fresh on the palate with tart orchard fruits and brisk acidity. This finishes with a mineral tinge and dried nectarine notes.

  • Villa Creek 2021 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 91 (10/15/2023)

    Boldly structured and rather muscular, this blend is full of personality, offering blackberry, grilled anise, cured meat and lots of freshly cracked pepper. Reveals big tannins on the finish. Best from 2025 through 2032.
  • Villa Creek 2021 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 94 (8/30/2023)

    Blueberries, darker cherries, pepper, and leafy herbs all emerge from the 2021 Avenger, a medium to full-bodied blend based on 42% Syrah, 23% Mourvèdre, 21% Grenache, 9% Petite Sirah, and the rest Carignan. This beauty has terrific purity, ripe yet building tannins, outstanding balance, and a great finish.
  • Villa Creek 2021 'Rocks & Flowers' Red, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 92 (8/30/2023)

    I also loved the 2021 Rocks & Flowers, a juicy, more fruit-forward effort that bas both red and black fruits, some peppery, meaty, graphite notes, medium to full body, and a great finish.