Owner and winemaker Ryker Brandt of Ryker’s Cellars may be the newest winery in Colorado, but his wines don’t taste like someone just starting out, as they reflect his years of cellar experience. Ryker’s wine career began in 2002 in California’s Santa Cruz Valley where he spent 6 years beginning as a volunteer during crush season and leaving as cellar master. It was there that he fell in love with white wines produced with Austrian and German varietals. Meeting up with a friend during a high school reunion Ryker packed up his bags and moved back to Colorado.
Sticking with the wine business he worked for several wineries and wine stores in the area, all the while obtaining his winery license, warehouse space and producing wine. In June he joined the wineries of Colorado Winery Row, and it is here that he is producing his delicious wines.
He gets his grapes from both CA and CO, but I must point out that he gets GRAPES, not just juice from these areas to make his wine. I must admit I was unaware that actual grapes came in from other states as opposed to just juice. Ryker receives CA grapes in 1,000 lb boxes that were picked one morning, chilled to 30 degrees, put on a truck, and within 24 hours arrive at his production facility. His American Red Wine is currently made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Syrah all from CA. He feels the Cab provides the body, the Merlot the fruitiness, and the Petit Syrah an incredible inky purple color with spice.
Ryker’s Cellars’ whites include an American Chardonnay (CA grapes) and a Viognier and Riesling, both using Colorado grapes. Ryker says his “whites never see an oak barrel” and that is why his Chardonnay is light, fruity and unoaked tasting. The Viognier is rich and fruity with hints of caramel and butterscotch, and his Riesling is dry and filled with green apple and citrus, and is a perfect pairing with spicy food.
Ryker’s Cellar’s label (see pic below) incorporates both Colorado and Denver in particular. His future plans are to incorporate more and more CO grapes in his wines and plans to add a Mead and a fruit wine into his offerings. Stop by his tasting room / production facility Thursday-Saturday (or call for an appointment other times), say hi to mascot Ushi, and enjoy some delicious wines.
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Allis Ranch Winery (and Ruby Trust Cellars) are the only two wineries in Colorado that can boast famed wine author and critic Robert Parker has tasted their wines. So how did owner and winemaker of Allis Ranch, David Rhyne, get him to do the tasting?? Through a fund-raising event, David bought a ticket to enjoy dinner with Parker in September 2012 and boldly brought along his wine. Parker said he would taste the wine, but would be very honest about his findings. He was pleasantly surprised, impressed with a Colorado wine and actually tweeted about his thoughts! Yeah, Colorado and Allis Ranch!!
So what impressive wines is Allis Ranch producing?? Viognier, Grenache, Syrah and Rosé…all Rhone varietals and in the Rhone style of wine production. David believes that Colorado’s hot days, cool nights and altitude are similar to the Southern Rhone area of France. He cold soaks his grapes for 3 days (which extracts color) and uses a long maceration process to produce deep, inky dark red wines. He also believes his wines do best aging a long time in oak. He likes the French oak to bring out the vanilla and sweetness of the grapes and likes American oak to enhance the black pepper spice in his Syrah.
David uses Old World techniques to produce his wines, making big wines and then taming them down in oak. His philosophy is to “have the grapes’ express themselves naturally and believes in producing only high quality wine.” All his grapes are sourced from the Western Slope of Colorado, and primarily from 3 vineyards. Viognier is the only white; his Margaret’s Rosé is dry; 2 Husky Syrah is named after his dogs – Allis and Strider; his Reserve Syrah is incredible; and the Grenache is top of the line and only 1 barrel is produced per year when the grapes are available.
What’s really cool about visiting Allis Ranch is the drive there from Sedalia and winding up at the tasting room, which is a 1910 Sears Roebuck “kit” home. It was brought by train to the area and then built in 1923. Allis Ranch is named after Pat Allis, who was the latest land owner. When she died in 1995 she sold the land to Colorado Open Lands, a non-profit, who divided the ranch into 10 – 35 acre lots with 440 acres of open space. David and his wife Margaret (who by the way is the wine labels’ creator) did some “swapping” for the kit home, totally refurbished it and now use it for the winery’s production facility and tasting room.
Allis Ranch Winery is by appointment only for groups of 10 or more, so get a group together and head out for a tasting of some incredibly delicious Colorado wines!!
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