For years, we have been hearing that wine, particularly red wine in moderation, is good for our health. Heller Estate wines takes that health claim up a notch. Their grapes are organically grown in vineyards that have been certified organic. That means they use no pesticides or herbicides in their growing process. We like that. Plus, we like their wines.
The Heller Estate Organic Vineyards, 120 acres of them, overlook the Cachagua valley at an altitude of 1200 to 1500 feet. All their grapes are estate grown and the vineyards have been in existence since 1968 when Bill and Dorothy Durney started Durney Vineyards. The Vineyards are now owned by Gilbert and Toby Heller.
The tasting room, located at 69 West Carmel Valley Road, is fairly easy to spot because of the signature sculpture of two dancers in the front garden. There are two tastings. One features only red wines. The other, which we did ($7.00), includes two white wines, one rose, and three reds.
We started with their 2008 Chenin Blanc, which was light and nice. With 10% Johannesburg Riesling as a part of the mix, just a touch of sweetness showed itself. It would be great with spicy foods. Their 2008 Chardonnay had a citrus punch to it and seemed a little less buttery than many Chardonnays. According to the vineyard newsletter, the Heller Herald, the Wall Street Journal in 2009 called the Heller Chardonnay “Among the five best in America.”
Their 2007 Dancers Meritage also won accolades as a double gold winner at the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition. And we could see why. We liked the smooth mellowness of the wine and the complex taste-- an interesting mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Local winemaster Rich Tanguay has done a masterful job of blending.
In between sips, we cleared our palate with little pieces of French bread dipped in various olive oils. All the olive oils and many other wine-themed gifts are for sale in the tasting room. One of the t-shirts we especially liked had an image of a glass of red wine on it with the words “Well Red.”
It feels good to be drinking good wine and to know all the grapes are grown right here in our valley and that they are grown organically. For more information on the history of the vineyard and the organic certification, check out their website at www.hellerestate.com.
The Heller motto, “Magical wines that dance on your palate” reminds us to keep on dancing!