Hanover Park Vineyards and Winery
Updated: Dec 31, 2022
Michael and Amy Helton fell in love with old world wines on their month-long honeymoon in the south of France in 1996. That year they purchased a property that included a farmhouse built in 1897. The next spring, they planted their first vines. In 1998 they add 2 more acres. They transformed the farmhouse into a warm and cozy tasting room. The tasting room was open in 2000. Both Michael and Amy have an artistic background and their work is displayed throughout the farmhouse. In 2004 Amy retired from teaching to begin working in the tasting room and planning winery events full time. Michael incorporates his artistic background to make his wine. He equates his style of winemaking to art. When he blends wines, he focuses on the nose. Not so much of smells and tastes but how is hits your palate, finishes and how it pairs with food. Pairing food and wine is a skill of Amy’s as well.
Our first trip to Hanover Park Vineyards was last August. We took a picnic lunch and enjoyed a tasting. As we ate lunch, we watched Michael work in the vineyard. Amy came out and sat with us. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and we are doing the same thing. Over lunch Amy, Charles and I talked wine, book clubs and winemaking. Amy has her own ideas on learning about wine. There are a lot of books that we discussed, but her piece of advice is to just drink the wine. Drink different varietals and styles of wine to discover what you enjoy. As we finished our picnic Michael and Rod were returning to work. Michael stopped by to compliment the lunch Amy had prepared and said, “Every meal is a feast”. They feel that wine and food are the perfect pair. They include a wine and food pairing on their menu. In fact, she was preparing for the Yadkin Valley Summer Whites food paring the next day. She was pairing a caprese sandwich with The Pearl, their dry Rose. With Charles partial to reds and I to whites, The Pearl is a great wine we can both enjoy.
Our tasting included their unoaked Chardonnay, The Pearl, Mourvedre, Michael’s Blend and 1897. All their wines are made in the French style of winemaking. French style wines are more fruit forward and higher acidity. The Yadkin Valley soil and climate are like the south of France. From falling in love with wines from the Rhone Valley to traveling back to the region to learn how to make wine, Michael refuses to accept ordinary. He isn’t encumbered by technical aspects of winemaking he trusts his instincts to produce exceptional wines. My favorite red is his Michael’s blend.
Located on the property is The Studio. The space can hold up to 250 people. It is an impressive event venue with stage for a band. As we walked around the property, we visited the goats and envied Amy’s tomato plants. Some people are amazed when they visit vineyards. They are working farms with animals and small gardens. As we were walking back to the tasting room Michael invited us inside the winery, where the magic happens. To the common wine drinker, such as myself, we might think of it as magic. However, winemaking is a science with trial and error. Discovering how to get the flavor profile you are after and all the 100s of decisions along the way. Michael led us on a tour of his winery. He explained his fermenting and bottling processes. Charles and I experienced a first for us. Michael gave us a sampling of a potential future blend and ask our thoughts between 2 blends. Watching him blend wines together was a treat. I had seen sampling from the barrel before on TV, but never in person. As he talked about the upcoming harvest you could tell how passionate he is about his wine.
Hanover Park offers a wine membership opportunity called the Vineyard Club. Unlike a lot of wineries there is no fee to join. You agree to 2 bottles 6 times a year of Amy’s choosing. Your bottles come with winemaker notes and pairing suggestions. They are also hold special gatherings for their club members.
The biggest things I came away from Hanover Park with is wine is made to be paired with food. There are no right and wrong ways to drink wine. I think wine with a meal forces us to slow down. It allows your palate to taste the wine with the food. Check out their website for upcoming events. www.hanoverparkwines.com