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 2019 'Cherry House' White, Paso Robles Login AG 90 In Stock
Villa Creek 2020 'Cherry House' White, Paso Robles Login In Stock
Villa Creek 2017 Garnacha, Paso Robles Login JD 91 AG 95 In Stock
Villa Creek 2018 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles Login JD 93 AG 95 WS 92
Villa Creek 2019 'Cherry House' Red, Paso Robles Login In Stock
Villa Creek 2018 'High Road' Red Rhone Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles Login JD 94 AG 96 Please inquire
Villa Creek 2019 'High Road' Red Rhone Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles Login Please inquire
Villa Creek 2018 'Rocks & Flowers' Red, Paso Robles Login AG 94 WS 92 In Stock
Villa Creek 2017 'Willow Creek Cuvee' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles Login JD 94 AG 94 In Stock
Villa Creek 2015 Luna Matta Vineyard, Paso Robles Login WA 88+? AG 95 In Stock
Villa Creek 2015 Syrah, Slide Hill Vineyard, Edna Valley Login AG 94 JD 95 <1 Case

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.

Social Media
Instagram: @villacreekcellars
Twitter: @villacreekwine
Facebook: @VillaCreek

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 2015 Luna Matta Vineyard, Paso Robles
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 88+? (5/31/2018)

    A blend of 70% Mourvèdre and 30% Syrah, the 2015 Luna Matta offers up notes of sweet red-black berries, blueberry preserve, dark chocolate and warm spices. On the palate, it's full-bodied and lavish on the attack before assertive tannins clamp down, though there's certainly plenty of attractive ripe fruit lurking behind its structure. This may unwind with time (my score gives it the benefit of the doubt), but it could well prove to be just a bit too aggressively extracted for its own good.
  • Villa Creek 2015 Luna Matta Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Rating: 95 (11/1/2017)

    Primary black and blue fruit, potpourri, Indian spices and licorice qualities on the explosively perfumed nose. A mineral flourish emerges with air, adding urgency and lift. Sweet, deeply concentrated and surprisingly lively for its heft, offering sappy black currant, cherry cola and spicecake flavors that spread out steadily with aeration. Picks up a smoky nuance on the strikingly long finish, which shows excellent clarity and chewy, building tannins that contribute shape and grip.
  • Villa Creek 2015 Syrah, Slide Hill Vineyard, Edna Valley
    Rating: 94 (11/1/2017)

    Expressive, spice-accented black and blue fruit liqueur, violet, licorice and mocha scents gain vivacity and pick up an olive tapenade nuance as the wine opens up. Densely packed but lively blackberry, boysenberry and floral pastille flavors deepen slowly with air and pick up a hint of bitter chocolate on the back half. Shows a suave blend of richness and energy and finishes with impressive, dark-fruit-driven persistence, a touch of vanilla and subtle tannic grip.
  • Villa Creek 2017 Garnacha, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 91 (10/31/2019)

    A wine that seems to deliver year in and year out, the 2017 Garnacha offer a more translucent ruby/plum color as well as classic Grenache notes of kirsch liqueur, black licorice, ground herbs, dried flowers, and earth. It's medium-bodied and elegant, with nicely integrated acidity and fine tannins. It's going to benefit from a year in bottle and keep for 7-8.
  • Villa Creek 2017 'Willow Creek Cuvee' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 94 (10/31/2019)

    Also Grenache-dominated, the 2017 Willow Creek Cuvée checks in as 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre that saw 30% stems and aging in 30% new barrels and puncheons. It's always slightly deeper colored than the Garnacha release and offers a great nose of pure black cherries, blackberries, singed cedar, ground pepper, and hints of chocolate. Beautifully textured, layered, and balanced, you can't go wrong with this cuvée, which will keep for upwards of a decade.
  • Villa Creek 2017 'Willow Creek Cuvee' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Rating: 94 (2/4/2020)

    Musky, assertively perfumed dark berry, cherry and floral scents are accompanied by building spice and succulent herb accents. Appealingly sweet and lively on the palate, offering juicy blackberry, cherry cola, lavender pastille and allspice flavors that spread out steadily on the back half. Shows impressive depth as well as energy and finishes long, sappy and precise, with fine-grained tannins sneaking in late.
  • Villa Creek 2017 Garnacha, Paso Robles
    Rating: 95 (2/4/2020)

    Shimmering ruby-red. Spice-accented raspberry, cherry preserve and floral pastille aromas are complemented by a suggestion of exotic spices that builds in the glass. Juicy, palate-caressing red fruit liqueur, spicecake and floral pastille flavors convey a compelling blend of depth and delicacy. Finishes with superb, mineral- and spice-driven intensity, the harmonious tannins supporting lingering red fruit and floral notes. This suave wine was made with 40% whole clusters and raised in puncheons, 25% of them new.
  • Villa Creek 2015 Syrah, Slide Hill Vineyard, Edna Valley
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 95 (8/10/2017)

    It offers a meaty, bloody, salty, Syrah-driven bouquet of blackberries, smoked game, olive tapenade and loads of pepper (white and black). This gives way to a rich, supple, unctuous Syrah that has full-bodied richness, sweet tannin, and a distinct meatiness/bloodiness that keeps you coming back to the glass. It’s just another terrific, singular wine from this estate to enjoy anytime over the coming decade.
  • Villa Creek 2019 'Cherry House' White, Paso Robles
    Rating: 90 (12/10/2020)

    Spice-tinged citrus and orchard fruit scents are complicated by succulent herb and chamomile nuances that gain strength with air. Sappy, concentrated and focused on the palate, offering Meyer lemon, dried pear and honeysuckle flavors and a touch of fennel. Closes with firm grip and very good persistence, leaving repeating floral and pear notes behind.
  • Villa Creek 2018 'Rocks & Flowers' Red, Paso Robles
    Rating: 94 (12/10/2020)

    Highly fragrant scents of black raspberry, boysenberry, Indian spices, baking spices and candied flowers, along with a smoky element that builds in the glass. Smooth and seamless in texture, offering palate-coating red/blue fruit, spice-cake and floral pastille flavors that deliver an appealing marriage of depth and energy. Closes spicy, gently tannic and very long, leaving repeating spice and floral notes behind. This is the wine formerly known as Willow Creek Cuvée.
  • Villa Creek 2018 'High Road' Red Rhone Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 94 (9/1/2020)

    Ground pepper, leafy herbs, plums, and even a touch of blue fruits emerge from the 2018 High Road James Berry Vineyard. A rich, full-bodied wine from this estate, it has plenty of fruit, good mid-palate depth, and the class to evolve nicely for over a decade.
  • Villa Creek 2018 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 93 (9/1/2020)

    A Syrah-dominated blend that includes 20% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah, the 2018 Avenger offers an almost glass-staining purple color as well as loads of red and blue fruits, ground white pepper, smoked game, and Asian spices. Loaded with baby fat and full-bodied, give bottles a year or two and it should drink nicely through 2028.
  • Villa Creek 2018 'High Road' Red Rhone Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Rating: 96 (12/1/2020)

    Powerful, mineral-accented black/blue fruit and floral oil aromas pick up exotic spice and pipe tobacco nuances with air. Fleshy, juicy and impressively concentrated, offering ripe boysenberry, black raspberry, cherry liqueur and violet pastille flavors that tighten up steadily on the back half. Densely packed yet energetic as well, finishing with resonating florality, gently gripping tannins and superb persistence.
  • Villa Creek 2018 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Rating: 95 (12/1/2020)

    Highly perfumed, mineral-accented black/blue fruit liqueur, incense and potpourri scents take on exotic spice and licorice notes with aeration. Deeply concentrated but energetic as well, offering sappy blueberry, cassis, candied violet and fruitcake flavors that are sharpened by smoky mineral and spice flourishes. The spicy note drives an impressively long, energetic finish, and chewy tannins provide shape and firming grip.
  • Villa Creek 2018 'Rocks & Flowers' Red, Paso Robles
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 92 (3/17/2021)

    A compelling red that's handsomely built and lively. Offers blackberry, bittersweet chocolate and smoky garrigue accents that finish with medium-grained tannins. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Drink now through 2029.
  • Villa Creek 2018 'Avenger' Red Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 92 (5/31/2021)

    A wine with torque and tension, which gives structure to the bold blueberry, currant and smoky grilled herb flavors as they build toward firm tannins. Best from 2022 through 2030.