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!