Archive for August, 2012

Tasting Room Visit – Wines of Colorado

So who has the largest selection of Colorado wines available for purchase?? Without a doubt that is Wines of Colorado! Located on Hwy 24 in Cascade, which is just west of Manitou Springs, the store sits at the entrance to the Pikes Peak road and Santa’s Workshop. While the liquor license for Wines of Colorado is held by Minturn Cellars, the store carries wine from just about every Colorado winery, and has been in business since 1998.

Their tasting room is unique in the fact that you can sample wines from a variety of Colorado wineries. You can also purchase a glass of any wine for $5.95. If you want to purchase a bottle and drink it while you dine at their restaurant, there is no uncorking fee. Speaking of their restaurant, they have a wonderful menu specializing in buffalo burgers, lasagne and meatloaf, and also feature a wine burger. They have a relaxing indoor sitting area as well as an outdoor area right by the creek. Wines of Colorado has won numerous awards for both its food and dining experiences.

Besides being able to purchase a variety of wines from Colorado, the store also has a vast selection of wine-related products for your home or for gifts.

Owner Marv Parliament has a unique story to tell, and Wines of Colorado’s website says it better than I can…click here to be linked to his story.

A stop at Wines of Colorado can fulfill many needs…sampling a variety of Colorado wines, purchasing Colorado wines, enjoying a delicious meal, keeping the kids happy at Santa’s Workshop and driving to the top of Pikes Peak (may be best to drive to the top PRIOR to sampling wine!!)

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Winery Visit – Garfield Estates Vineyard & Winery

Whether you are in Palisade or Denver, you can stop at Garfield Estates Vineyard & Winery for a taste of their delicious wines. Garfield Estates’ main tasting room along with their production facility and vineyard is located in Palisade. Here they produce their award-winning ALL estate-bottled wines. As owner Carol Carr says “we are growing great wines.” She explained to me that most growers want to produce 6-8 tons/acre of grapes. This allows them to achieve the maximum yield. However, a winemaker wants the grapes grown at  3-4 tons/acre, which allows the grapes to be more concentrated on the vines. Carol and Jeff Carr, being both grape growers and winemakers, can achieve the ultimate with their grapes, and actually grow grapes and then pick them for a specific wine they have in mind.

Carol says Garfield Estates is actually 3 businesses….farming, the winery and the tasting rooms. For 12 years Jeff has turned his passion about wine into being the winemaker and Carol turns Jeff’s passion into a working business. The Carr’s passion is all about making world-class wines from 100% estate-grown grapes. They are also part of the Grand Valley Winery Association, which includes 8 wineries that grow their own grapes and make their own wine.

About 2 years ago, the Carrs decided to add an additional tasting room and chose the Denver area. They joined Bonaquisti Wine Company and Verso Cellars to form Colorado Winery Row (just off I-70 & Pecos), and was later joined by Cottonwood Cellars. CWR makes for a fun, urban setting, where Thursday through Saturday you can sample wines from 4 different wineries. They also have several events during the year.

Stop by Garfield Estates for a taste of delicious estate-grown wines….my favorite is the Syrah!


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Book Signing – Pappas Cigars & The Village Greek

If you are thinking delicious Greek food and/or smoking some fine Cuban cigars, then you need to be at The Village Greek Restaurant and Stanley Pappas Cigars on Friday, August 25. I’ll be there selling and signing my book  – Exploring Colorado Wineries – as well. In addition, Michael Giannini of La Gloria Cubana will be sharing his knowledge about Cuban cigars.

The festivities are from 6 to 9 p.m. at 6886 S. Clinton Street in Greenwood Village. This is right across the street from the Target store on Arapahoe and I-25. It is open to the public and there is no cover charge.

While I’m not a cigar smoker, I understand that Michael Giannini is quite renowned and an expertise in the field of cigars. What I do know is Greek food and The Village Greek serves incredible dishes that make your mouth water and your taste buds go crazy! I’m thinking baklava.

The Villager newspaper wrote an article about the restaurant and cigar store (see below).

See you Friday!!

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Winery Visit – The Apple Shed

What has a wine tasting room, western art, a clothing boutique, holiday decor, jewelry, local products and a deli…The Apple Shed in Cedaredge. For 20 years this store has been providing both locals and tourists a unique place to shop. I first have to talk about the western art. Never in my travels have I seen a store with as much western decor…from art to furniture to accessories….this store is your one-stop shop!! And the prices range from $10-$13,000 for the art, so there is something for every budget.  The Apple Shed offers art, pottery and sculptures from many local and regional artists.

The new women’s boutique offers clothing, accessories, handbags and jewelry, of which many items are from local crafters. Additionally the store contains a culinary section and a holiday tree area.  Since you could shop in the store for hours, you can take a break and refuel at the Loading Dock Deli. Owner Connie Williams says, “the deli is all about good old fashioned food – healthy, hearty and good tasting!” During the summer and fall you can enjoy your meal on their outdoor patio.

In addition to managing the store, Connie is an artist herself and has several of her paintings available for sale. She has also been part of Delta’s “City of Murals” project. Her three murals are a tribute to agriculture, the Utes and clothing labels. The next time you are in Delta, take a few minutes to stop at each of the dozen murals along Main Street, they are incredible.

As you can see The Apple Shed offers something for everyone…so lets talk wine! Currently The Apple Shed is a tasting room for many of Delta/Olathe/West Elks AVA wineries. The tasting room provides you an opportunity to sample several wineries all under one roof. Connie and her husband, Dan, along with their son Ty and his family, own and operate a 180-acre orchard just outside of town. They grow primarily peaches and apples. About 3 years ago, they contacted Black Bridge Winery to assist them in organizing their own winery, and very shortly will be pouring their own wine under the Williams Cellars label.

Whether you want to wine or shop, The Apple Shed is a must stop while in Delta County.

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Winery Visit – Black Bridge Winery

So why do some grapes grow better than others? According to Lee Bradley, owner of Black Bridge Winery, “vines need a good view, and our Pinot Noir grapes have an incredible view of the West Elk mountains.” Now, I’m not sure if that’s true, but I must admit the view of the West Elk mountains is spectacular and their vines were filled with grapes! But the land of Black Bridge Winery was not always a vineyard, it was actually an apple orchard and owned by the Cyprus /Westmoreland Coal Mine. It was used as a railroad buffer and to maintain water rights. Lee managed the property for a while and then kept buying up the land…and that’s when things began to change.

Lee and wife, Kathy, removed the apple orchards and planted cherry and peach trees along with wine grapes. The Bradleys own 50 acres of land and have been supplying grapes to area wineries for many years. Eleven years ago they opened up a market, selling local produce and products, and included a tasting room for several area wineries. In 2004 the Bradleys took the plunge and became a winery themselves.

Black Bridge Winery has three estate-bottled wines – Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They also make two delicious red wine blends. According to Lee, due to the elevation of Paonia, the wines have more acidity. And let’s not forget about the warm days and cool nights of the West Elks AVA that help make their wines superb.

A stop at Black Bridge Winery, to sample some delicious wines, and Orchard Valley Market, to purchase some local fruit and products, is a must when traveling along Highway 133 through Paonia!

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Winery Visit – Stone Cottage Cellars

I don’t think a winery could be better named than Stone Cottage Cellars. Located in Paonia on top of Garvin Mesa, Stone Cottage Cellar’s buildings are all built from the field stone on the property. Owners Karen and Brent Helleckson and their two children, Jacob and Stephanie, have laid each building’s stone from ground to peak. They began in 1994, spending 4 days in Boulder and 3 days a week in Paonia, until 1997 when they officially moved to the property. Coming from corporate backgrounds, they decided to move from the city and get back to a rural environment, and discovered Paonia. And did they chose well…the view from the top of Garvin Mesa is spectacular!! (see pictures below). In fact, the back cover of my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries – was taken at their property by Jacob.

When they purchased the property there were 2 acres of neglected Gewurztraminer that they cut back and then retrained the vines. Due to the terroir, these grapes are high in both sugar and acidity. The Helleckson’s  produce the wine in an Alsatian-style, meaning it is crisp and food friendly. In addition to Gewurztraminer, they also grow Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir grapes on 4.5 acres, and in the future plan to double their acreage.

A new concept for me is the way they produce their Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah….whole berry fermentation. For a quick overview, this basically means during the crush they only remove the stems and do not crush the grapes, but rather leave them as whole as possible. Since red wine receives most of its tannin from the skin, by leaving the grape whole, it lessens the tannin and accentuates the dark fruit flavors.

In addition to making wine, the Hellecksons are a musical family….Karen teaches piano and the rest of the family plays a variety of stringed instruments. Karen and Brent make you feel right at home in the tasting room and are able to provide  information about wine and the area. As you make your way to the winery, definitely keep your eye on the road, as its an “interesting” drive to the top of Garvin Mesa!

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Winery Visit – Stoney Mesa Winery

If you’ve never been to Cedaredge or haven’t been there in a while, its a great little town that has a lot to offer. And one of the “must stop at places” is Stoney Mesa Winery. Just a few minutes southwest of downtown, it offers beautiful views of the surrounding area.  On their patio you can sip some of their delicious wines and also enjoy a BYOLunch. Afterwards ask owner, Bret Neal for a tour of the vineyards, winery and entire operations.

Bret is a second generation owner and winemaker. For over 2 decades the Neal family has been growing grapes on their properties in Cedaredge, Grand Junction and Palisade. In 1982 they planted Riesling, which if not the oldest vines, are the second oldest Riesling planting in Colorado.  As Bret says, “Riesling is King at Stoney Mesa.” For the past 10 years this has been their most planted grape. It is a strong grape that can survive the cold winters, and produces a consistent, quality grape year after year.

Stoney Mesa also produces Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a Blush wine. Additionally, the winery produces two blends…a Blanca del Mesa (a blend of Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris) and Rojo del Mesa (a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot). Bret wanted to try something new and to create a new line of wine, which would forge Stoney Mesa’s future, and so produced these two blends, and also introduced a new label.

With only a small portion of their 50-acre property in Cedaredge devoted to grapes (a good portion is leased to a cattle rancher), Stoney Mesa’s future in the wine business is a definite, and for that we should be thankful!

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Winery Visit – Liliputian Winery

Since the Olympics are in London, I thought it would be interesting to talk about a wine that is popular there, but in the United States you will only find at Liliputian Winery in Hotchkiss, Colorado, and that is Ginger Wine! At first you might think…yuck. But actually it is quite tasty and is an excellent wine to pair with sushi, spicy Thai food and Chinese foods. Ginger Wine is sweet and has a ginger/citrus taste. It is not made with grapes, but rather filtered water, ginger and raisins (your fermenting agent). After finding a recipe for Ginger Wine in an old English cookbook, owner Lisa Fairbank spent several years changing the recipe and perfecting it, and in 2009 found what she liked and could duplicate it. In English pubs you can order a drink called a Whiskey Mac, that is a shot of Ginger Wine, a shot of Whiskey, sugar and hot water….sounds like a good drink on a cold, damp evening in England!

In addition to Ginger Wine, Liliputian also produces a Riesling, which is fruity and delicious, and a Liliputian Red, that is a Cabernet Franc blend. The winery was named after Lisa and Scott’s dog, Lily, and also that their tasting room and production is small (see pictures below). The Fairbanks actually lived in the current tasting room when they bought the property, that had an untended vineyard, but after a few cramped years moved into their new residence. As with many winery owners, they didn’t intend to start a winery, and Lisa says they divide the work by her as the winemaker and Scott as the muscle in the vineyard.

They are both actually nutritionists by trade, who spent many years in the natural products retail business. In addition to their winery they also have a natural food store right next door called Hardin’s. Here they rival any Whole Foods market with locally grown products, most of them organic or natural. I was amazed at the selection their store had to offer. There is an organization called VOGA, which stands for Valley Organic Growers Association. It was interesting to learn that the North Fork Valley is the largest area in Colorado with organic farms…some 55+ of them! They are producers of wine, wool, plans, beef, mutton, vegetables, cheese and much more.


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