I spent 3 days in the Delta/Montrose/West Elks AVA Region last month, and enjoyed touring the 18 wineries that make up the area. As a little background information….the West Elks region is only one of two AVAs in Colorado. AVA stands for American Viticultural Area and is a designated wine-grape growing region distinguishable by its terroir and having met certain standards. The other AVA in Colorado is the Grand Valley.
My first stop was at Terror Creek, which is fitting since they are one of the oldest wineries in the area. They began planting their 7 acres of grapes in 1989 and opened the winery in 1992. Prior to this, owner Joan Mathewson and her husband John had been living in the Middle East for 26 years working in geophysics and geological engineering. They had also spent time volunteering in the vineyards of Switzerland. Wanting to relocate to the US, they headed back to their roots of Colorado and fell in love with the area and mountains near Paonia. You can see why from the pictures below!! One of the things that drew them to this particular plot of land was the fact that CSU, as part of their Four Corners Project, had planted Gewurztraminer in 1972 and the grapes were still there and producing!!
All of Terror Creek’s wines come from their own vineyard. Very occasionally nature will reek havoc and they will have to obtain grapes elsewhere, which is mentioned on their label. They produce a dry Gewurztraminer and a dry Riesling as well as a Pinot Noir. Their Gamay Noir (a Beaujolais, France grape) is considered a Swiss table wine. In fact, their wines are produced in a European style, meaning they are fruity and true to the grape varietal. This makes sense as Joan received her training at Changins, which in the 1980s was a small oenology and viticulture school in Switzerland, and is now a large university.
One of the issues the Mathewsons deal with is elk. Most of the vineyards and orchards in the area have elk fences around their property. They also contend with deer, bobcats, bear and raccoons that like to eat in the vineyards. But who can blame them….the views from the top of Garvin Mesa are spectacular!
At stop at Terror Creek should be at the top of your list, and after spending time with Joan, you will be glad you did!