Nineteenth-century miners once panned for gold in Last Chance Gulch, which later became a thoroughfare in downtown Helena, Montana. Jill Roberts, a former New York sommelier, partnered with Colleen Casey to open the Hawthorn Bottle Shop and Tasting Room, not in the ruins of a gold camp, but in a formerly abandoned, historic department store. (They share the building with a new microbrewery that’s still under construction.) The pair filled the interior with long slabs of blue-stained beetle-kill pine for counters and tables, and stocked the metalwork shelves with wines that don’t normally make it to Helena. That extends to the wines on tap, with offerings like a 2010 Vinum Petite Sirah from Clarksburg and a 2009 red from Vignerons d’Estézargues, a co-op devoted to natural wines in the southern Rhône. Roberts has also brought her love for Austrian and German wines with her, and stocks wines like the 2013 Heidi Schrock Gelber Muskateller alongside other esoterica such as the 2003 Chateau Musar white, a blend of two indigenous varieties from Lebanon.
This review appears in the print edition of the June 2015 issue. Like what you just read? Subscribe now.