The vineyards and winery are located four miles north of highway 26, the main artery connecting Portland with Oregon’s north coast, so it's a great place to stop on the way to the beach.
Helvetia Winery is really off the beaten path. If you didn't know it was there, you may never find it. We are big fans of "No Chain" restaurants and decided to try Helvetia Tavern, supposed to be rated #1 Burger in Portland in 2013. So we drove out for lunch. My eyes are always focused on winery signs and that day we spotted 2 of them. After lunch, and by the way, the burgers were awesome, we headed toward Helvetia Winery.
We arrived at a quaint little house and went on in.. The photo above is of a nice and sunny day. The day we went was not so much. We were met by Catherine. Catherine was such a great host! She was very knowledgeable in the wines and you could tell she really enjoyed what she was doing. We talked about a few grapes and if we were unsure, she had this huge book of all the grapes, so we were full of knowledge. We tasted through the samples that day and found a few we liked.
John, the owner happened to be around and he so graciously took us down to the winery and showed us the production area. I love when you think you are going in for a tasting and come out with so much more. You get a glimpse into the heart and soul of the owner/winemaker. We spent about an hour and a half with tasting and touring.
John is one of the few that uses the "growler" for some of his wine. Although he calls them "Bouteille", seems a little more of a friendly word, because I certainly don't want my wine growling at me.. :) This is a great idea, since it saves on bottle and cork cost by the winery and saving a few inches in the landfills. Of course you don't want to buy a Bouteille of wine if you plan to cellar it.. It is meant for quick consumption. The price to refill is also a better value for the consumer. Plus, you get to go out to the winery and taste more wines when you need a refill.
Helvetia's production is about 1200 cases right now.
Here are the wines we tasted at the winery:
- 2009 Chardonnay - Light and acidic. Aged in neutral oak then finished in stainless steel.
- 2012 Chardonnay - Has a spike of like butterscotch and them it disappears. Interesting.
- 2012 Gewurztraminer - Grapefruit and grassy, Meyer lemon. Lots of Grapefruit on the palate. Really liked this.
- 2011 Pinot Noir - Smokiness earthy, love the tannins, very dry.
- 2010 Pinot Noir - A little more tart on the nose.
- 2009 Pinot Noir- Warm hot dry year. Softer and smoother.
- 2011 Sangiovese - Black cherry and maple syrup. Dry and lush blackberries.