The Villager newspaper just printed a wonderful review of my book…check it out!!Read more →
A trip to Rocky Mountain National Park or Estes Park just isn’t complete without a stop at Snowy Peaks Winery. The winery opened its doors in 2005, pouring samples of other Colorado wines. Today, they still pour for other wineries, but have 20 wines of their own for you to enjoy. Owners Erik and Candice Mohr, like many winery owners, have a unique story to tell. Part of the story goes….Erik liked wine and had made a few “homemade” wines, so he thought opening up a winery sounded like a good retirement project when that time came (keep in mind Erik is a young guy). Candice on the other hand, didn’t even like wine when they opened up the winery (although that has changed!). After searching high and low for a winery location, they chose Estes Park and began commuting from Ft. Collins to Estes Park daily. Having no money for a down payment, they charged everything on their credit cards…now that takes guts!! When you stop on in at Snowy Peaks, ask for the “full-story” version.
All of Snowy Peak’s grapes are grown in Colorado. While most of their grapes come from Palisade, they also obtain grapes from a rancher in Burlington. Their 20 varieties offer you a broad spectrum of wines – from sweet to dry, white to red and several blends and dessert wines. As Candice says, “we make something for everyone.” As the winemaker, Erik likes to produce blends using non-traditional grapes such as Mourvedre and Cinsault (pronounced SAN soh). He says, “by blending grapes you can keep your costs down, while still creating a great and balanced wine.”
Candice oversee all the non-winemaking aspects of Snowy Peaks, and she has done an incredible job of offering a large variety of Colorado products in the tasting room. As you can see from the pictures below, you can purchase items such as jams, chocolates, cheese, sausage, etc. etc. etc. as well as wine-related merchandise. She has even put together a virtual tour where you can watch Snowy Peaks’ grapes go from vineyard to bottle. Don’t worry about bringing kids into the tasting room, Candice has created a “No Wine-ing Zone” playroom for kids, that will keep them happy and busy for hours!
The best way to finish your day in Rocky Mountain National Park is to stop at Snowy Peaks Winery…its easy to find on Moraine Avenue, right in downtown Estes Park.
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Here is a question for you….who is the northernmost winery in Colorado?? Answer… Ten Bears Winery in LaPorte, which is located northwest of Ft. Collins. And, owner Bill Conkling is growing grapes there as well! Four years ago Bill planted 480 vines, and while losing a few over the years, has discovered what it takes to grow a cold-hearty, hybrid grape in northern Colorado. Currently his La Crescente (a white grape) and Marquette (a red) are doing exceptionally well, and will be harvested next year, with the first release in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Bill says, “I will be making the white a dry wine and will put it up against a Pinot Grigio anytime!”
Bill began his winemaking by working in the beer industry. For 13 years he worked at various breweries in the testing, microbiology and quality assurance areas. He says “anything that goes into or used in beer making, I oversaw.” Making wine as a hobby turned into this labor of love for Bill, and something he enjoys creating and watching go from vineyard to bottle. All of Ten Bears’ wines are unfiltered, as Bill believes it leaves more body and character in the wine and that filtering can remove some of the flavor. For us laypeople, filtering wine increases visibility and removes any sediments you might see in the bottom of a bottle.
The view from Ten Bears tasting room and facility is incredible, and is considered the “Valley of the Poudre River.” Unfortunately my pictures below do not do it justice as it was a virtual downpour while I was there! The winery gets its name from the name of the road, and since Bill and his family were the first to live on the road, they decided to keep the name. Bill has named 2 of his wines after the area….Poudre Red, a red table wine, and Cameron Pass, a blend of Viognier and Pinot Grigio.
Ten Bears Winery offers a broad spectrum of wines….from whites to reds to blends. Bill likes to have lower tannin and less acidity in his wines, providing a smoother and cleaner finish. Take a drive to LaPorte…you’ll be glad you did!Read more →
When most people think of Meads, they think a sweet, honey, fermented beverage. Not so at Hunters Moon Meadery!! While they produce Meads of the traditional varieties, they are also producing Meads (although they can’t call them that) using lemons, cloves and huckleberries. These are their “standards.” Their Mountain Berry (a 2012 International Silver Medal winner) is made from Colorado chokecherries and huckleberries obtained from Northwestern Montana, where owner Kim Bowdish’s family resides. For those that eat ham during the holidays, their “Kim’s Clove” is an delicious pairing. And Kim says her “favorite summer drink is our Lunar Lemon Melomel over ice, which is very refreshing on a hot day.”
It is husband, Greg Bowdish who provides the honey, and as President of the Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association, he is well versed in making honey! He currently has 50 hives near their home in Severance (east of Ft. Collins). During the summer he will have around 60,000 bees per hive making honey. That number drops somewhere between 10-20,000 during the winter months. I found it fascinating that 1 bee, which lives about 6 weeks, produces 1/10 of a teaspoon during its worker bee life!
The one thing I found fascinating about the Bowdishes, is their experimentation. As you can see from the picture below, they have lots of “testers” going. These “testers” include small batches of Mead infused with tea, chocolate, coffee, ginger and mangos. In fact, their experimental coffee mead, Howling Moon, was a bronze medal winner. Fortunately we don’t have to wait around too long for a new Mead…their Touch of Gold (a saffron Mead) was just released, and their Trappers Cask (a Mead aged in a Chardonnay oak barrel) should be released soon.
Here is a little factoid….most Meaderies have moon in their name. And so, Hunters Moon Meadery was named from the October full moon, called the Hunters Moon. Since the Bowdish’s family history is full of hunters, it seemed the perfect name for their company. The Meadery is open by appointment only, so give them a call to stop by and taste their delicious and unique Meads. And while you are there, ask Kim about her “bee art,” its a fascinating story!Read more →