Though her name is supposed to mean graceful, Anne Hubatch, owner and winemaker of Helioterra Wines, claims to be anything but as she carefully navigates her way across the kitchen strewn with small toys. Her family, business, and life all culminate here in this space … children’s drawings, kitchen utensils, a computer, and lots of paperwork … yet somehow, it just seems to work.
Offering me a slice a persimmon bread to counter the toothpaste and coffee from that morning, she begins to haul bottle after bottle to a large dining table.
Regarding her wines, Anne says, “I want people to be open to serving it whenever the hell they want.” With pricing no higher than a $22 Pinot Noir, she has worked to create a portfolio of wines that she feels are accesible for many occasions. Her desire is to produce wines that have enough acid and texture to pair well with food, and which balance both fruit and savory components.
Pouring the first wine, Anne laments, “some people make their Pinots seriously, and make their whites secondary.” The Helioterra 2010 Pinot Blanc (131 cases, $16), however, is clearly not an afterthought.
Clear, bright, medium light gold color. Clean on the nose with medium intensity aromas of lime, grapefruit, orange, straw, and stones. Dry on the palate with medium body and high acidity. Flavors of bright green crab apples, lime and lemon zest, and pineapple lead to a long finish accented by fresh herbs and a soft brininess. A perfect summer wine, drink now and through the warmer months. Pair with triple cream cheeses, wild mushroom and herb pâté, or grilled swordfish with a citrus vinaigrette.
After studying geology in Wisconsin, non-profit work, and a stint in politics—”which will drive anyone to drink”—Anne discovered a passion for wine in the Willamette Valley. Working periods and learning much at Hamacher, Tualatin Estate, Adelsheim, Dobbes, and Apolloni Vineyards she eventually transitioned in 2009 to produce her first vintage under Helioterra.
With white wine “I don’t like to get in the way of the fruit, but [try to stay] true to the variety and what the vineyard has given me.” She continues pouring, sharing two white wines from Madrone Mountain located in southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. The focus at Madrone are wines which always contain residual sugar. The Madrone Mountain 2008 Starthistle Cuvée (225 cases, $18), which Anne produced, is a unique blend of Riesling, Huxelrebe, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Clear, bright, medium gold color. Clean on the nose but with a slight funk (botrytis) and more forward aromas of pear and candied lemon peel. Off dry on the palate with medium body and acidity. Flavors that begin with honey, white flowers, candied citrus, golden raisins, and poached peaches fade to fresher fruit and a medium finish. Match with something that has heat—Szechuan or Creole.
The second wine which Anne helped make, the Madrone Mountain 2005 Special Select Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, was richly sweet but not cloying, and reminiscent of baked peach cobbler.
While Anne may not feel she possesses poise and grace, her wines tell a different story. Showing both elegance and structure, they effortlessly balance a combination of fruit, minerality, and place.
Try Helioterra Wines at a number of retail and restaurant locations around Portland, or check for upcoming events to taste and meet Anne in person.