Winery Visit – Ryker’s Cellars

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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