BEYOND THE AVAS
WHILE Colorado has just two AVAs, wine grapes are grown in a few other areas West of 105 including Montezuma County in the Four Corners region, Fremont and Poncha Springs in the Arkansas Valley, and Delta and Montrose counties. Just like the two federally recognized AVAs, each of these areas has its own unique combination of geography, soil and elevation that leads to unique and interesting wines. Here are a few wineries that are known to turn out great bottles.
WHERE TO GO
BUCKEL FAMILY WINES
The family-owned and -operated winery started making wine in 2015 with sales starting in January of this year, however Joe Buckel started making wine in Sonoma County, California in 2004 before moving to Colorado a decade ago. If Joe's accolades are anything to go by - a 94 point wine and three 90 point ratings from Wine Enthusiast as well as Gold medals in the Colorado's Governor's Cup - wine lovers in Colorado will have new wines to add to their collections. As for varietals, they currently produce chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, petit verdot, cabernet franc, pinot noir, and cinsault.
The winery is currently working on a new production facility and tasting room in Crested Butte which it is hoped will be ready in time for next summer.
HOLY CROSS ABBEY
The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey is a boutique winery located on the historic grounds of Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City.
Larry Oddo, the CEO of Holy Cross, spent 22 years in public accounting on the East Coast before trading that career in for entrepreneurship in Colorado. Oddo says that they try hard to remember the mission of the monks when they make wine as well as being thoughtful when it comes to the community. Oddo says that employees share in the success of the winery through incentive compensation and benefit programs and are, as a result, invested in the success of the winery which shows in the final product. That is borne out by the plethora of awards the winery has received, particularly in the last three years, including having several wines rated 88 or better by Wine Enthusiast. The 2015 Colorado Revelation will receive a 90 in the November 2018 issue.
Opening in June 2002, the winery produced 3,800 cases in its first year, but will more than double that this year with around 9,000 cases.
Winemaker's Dinner, September 29 Annual Harvest Fest, September 28-30
Located in Olathe, Garrett Estate has been around since 2003 but the nexus of the winery goes back several years before that when the mother of current owner, Mitch Garrett, suggested the idea of starting a winery. Today, Garrett Estate has 35 acres and grows seven varieties: pinot gris, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, gewurztraminer, and riesling. The latter two often give people a surprise (and have also won praise) because their are dry and therefore different to many gewurztraminers and rieslings. In fact, Garrett Estate only produces dry wines.
Garrett also tried to be as sustainable as possible and hand-picks all of their grapes, does not use pesticides of any kind and are a geothermal winery.
The Garrett Estate unoaked chardonnay and Pheasant Run red blend are their flagship wines. Garrett Estate wines have received awards and recognition in wine competitions in Colorado, the Southwest, California and internationally.
Wine Tasting, September 16 Wine, chocolate and cheese pairing, October 13
10th Annual Holiday Wine Tasting, November 24
The winery is open by appointment year round garrettestatecellarscolorado.com
Located in Poncha Springs in the Arkansas River Valley, Vino Salida opened in 2009 but moved to it current location in 2016. Currently, owner Steve Flynn produces around 2,500 cases a year of the state's finest varietals including chardonnay, viognier, riesling, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chambourcin and arandell. Vino Salida has won awards at the Colorado Governor's Cup, the Colorado State Fair, the Mesa County Fair, the Mazer Cup International Mead Competition, and the Flavor of Pueblo.
The tasting room, in addition to offering the full range of wines for purchase, also offers a full dining menu
Tenderfoot Stomp, September 22 - 23
Open year round abbeywinery.com
Open year round vinosalida.com Photos (this page): Vino Salida (opposite page above): Garrett Estate; (opposite page below): The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey