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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