Back in the 1980s Bob Tebeau was a home winemaker who created a humorous label. Little did he know that circumstances would lead him and his wife to create the real Chateau Tebeau.
A Wine Oasis
Last Friday we headed out to Port Clinton and Marblehead on a sunny winter’s day. We enjoyed a great visit to the Liberty Aviation Museum and on the way back made a special detour.
While we’ve tasted quite a bit of Chateau Tebeau wine at the Glass City Wine Festival and the Island Wine Festival, we’ve never been to the winery. Time to correct that!
The winery is located in Helena (population 224!) in Sandusky County, between Fremont and Gibsonburg. The Lake Erie shore is dotted with wineries, but not so in this part of Ohio. Chateau Tebeau is an oasis in a wine desert.
A Good Choice For Sipping, Strolling or Dining
Mary Tebeau, who owns the winery along with husband and winemaker Bob, was in the tasting room when we arrived. We learned the winery opened in January 2010 and had a major expansion in 2012 when the old production area was turned into dining space.
The original vineyard had 300 vines and they have since planted another vineyard with three times the amount of vines. The winters of 2014 and 2015 were devastating to Ohio wineries. We were looking forward to trying some Chateau Tebeau Cabernet Franc, but alas, the bad weather meant none was available.
The tasting room is spacious, nicely decorated and – we understand – a fantastic place for a meal or to enjoy live music. In the warmer weather, guests can enjoy their wine out on the deck, in the gazebo or picnic area.
Growing Strong, Growing Local
The tasting menu is a long one at Chateau Tebeau. They offer more than 15 different wines ranging from the dry to sweet dessert wines. The wine list clearly shows which wines are estate grown in their vineyards and others that use grapes from other locations. All the wine is made on premises.
We began our tasting with the Traminette, which is a hybrid grape. Chateau Tebeau makes two styles, dry and sweet. Traminette is similar to Gerwurztraminer with a bit of spice and a floral aroma. This one had a semi-dry finish.
We sampled the Riesling next. The grapes come from New York State and this made for a pleasant wine with a semi-sweet finish.
It was time to move on to the reds. We began with the 2012 Noiret. Noiret is a hybrid developed by Cornell University. It was created to withstand cold weather and produces a light bodied red. This Noiret had a very cherry flavor and an almost Sweet Tart taste. We liked it!
I was looking forward to the Frontenac. Frontenac is another cold-hardy grape, this one developed by the University of Minnesota. Some hybrid grapes lack boldness, but not Frontenac. This wine had cherry aromas and tastes of leather and plum. This is very well done.
We finished up with the 2014 Petite Sirah. This was made with grapes from Lodi, California. Lodi produces some stellar wines, especially Zinfandel. This was particularly juicy and we recommend it when you visit.
Chateau Tebeau offers a beautiful setting for tasting wine and having an evening of entertainment. We particularly enjoy the estate wines, but a wide range of wines are offered. Although we sampled on the dry side, we understand the Harvey Schwartz Red is a favorite of those with a sweet palate.
You can find Chateau Tebeau wines at the upcoming Glass City Wine Festival and even in some Toledo area stores – but the best experience is reserved for visitors to the winery.