Many of my guests are looking for that quaint, boutique winery that is fabulous, but that nobody knows about. I try to point out that if nobody knows about it there might be a reason. People find out about the good wineries, no matter how hard they are hidden. Anam Cara Cellars is like that… hard to find, but known. Even following directions and signs, you still might question the trek you are on. But at the end of the long winding gravel driveway, you know you’ve reached your destination. The acres of Pinot Noir that line the driveway give way to the house of Nick and Shelia Nicholas, which also happens to be the tasting room of of their wine, Anam Cara Cellars.
Anam Cara is Celtic for “friend of my soul” (and yes, Shelia does have a great Scottish accent). The Nicholas’ journey to make wine started many years ago as they worked in various capacities in the food industry. Since 2001, the have dug into the Chehalem Mountains, both literally and figuratively, planting 27 acres of grapes on their land. What was once dilapidated orchards is now brimming with fruit again.
Although they are generally open by appointment only, Nick and Shelia open their vineyard to visitors on the weekends of Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Curt and I visited them on a showery September day last year to their open house. They had quickly moved the celebration inside to deal with the unusual summer weather. Shelia poured whites in the living room (and attempted to keep Digger the Dog away from the cheese) while Nick poured reds in the dining room. With 25 of the acres planted in Pinot Noir, most of our time was spent with Nick. He had us taste the Estate bottling, a Reserve and then single vineyard bottles of Mark and Heather Blocks (appropriately named after their children). Even in this one plot of land, the varying elevations, directional facings, different clones and winemaking processes make each taste unique. I, of course, gravitated to the Gewurztraminer, which was used for ice wine… dessert! Yum!
Getting a tour of Nicholas Vineyard and tastings of Anam Cara Cellars can be done by contacting Nick and Shelia at (503) 537-9150 or off their website. They are located just north of Newberg; they’ll give you great directions when you make your appointment.
*UPDATE: Shelia has opened a tasting room in Newberg so now you can taste Anam Cara Cellar wines daily (Friday-Sunday in January and February) without an appointment. Visit them at 306 N. Main Street from noon-5.