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!