Its going to be busy in the Grand Valley this weekend….the “Barreling into Spring” event is taking place! The event is organized by the Grand Valley Winery Association, which includes 8 wineries:
- Canyon Wind Cellars
- Carlson Vineyards
- DeBeque Canyon Winery
- Garfield Estates
- Grande River Vineyards
- Graystone Winery
- Plum Creek Cellars
- Two Rivers Winery
Each winery offers a little different variety…from fruit wines to traditional wines to port. I would tell you to get your ticket and stop on in at theses wineries, but the event is sold out! If you are in the mood for a visit to the Grand Valley this weekend, there are 15 other wineries that will have their tasting rooms open and invite you to stop on by.
I will be selling and signing my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries-Guidebook & Journal at DeBeque Canyon Winery on Saturday, May 18 from 11 to 3 and Sunday, May 19 also from 11 to 3 at Plum Creek Cellars.
With our warm weather and the beginning of summer approaching, its time to “Explore and Enjoy” Colorado wines!!
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If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, Verso Cellars is your winery! Owner and winemaker, Paul Phillips says, “I like Cabs so that’s why I only make that variety.” And for 10+ years he has been doing that exceptionally well. Paul began his operation by researching Cabernet grapes from nurseries all over the world, and discovered there are over 2,000 different Cab grape varieties. He wondered “what ones do I choose for my wine?” I must admit, that in listening to Paul tell me about the varieties, I was overwhelmed and fairly confused, so I give Paul a lot of credit to have figured this all out! But he did, and in 2001 he planted 6 different Cab clones in Orchard Mesa, and his journey began. In 2008 he sold his 2,200 vines on 15 acres, but the grapes for his wines still come from the orchard there.
Paul ages all his wine in French oak. For his production, he uses 1/3 new barrels, 1/3 one year old barrels and 1/3 two year old barrels. A delicious “food wine” is Paul’s goal, and he lets the weather dictate what happens to the grapes, usually harvesting a few weeks later than many of the other growers.
In addition to making wine, Paul also teaches classes on cheese making. He makes an acid-based cheese (ricotta) and a rennet-based cheese (mozzarella). An acid-based cheese uses vinegar or lemon juice with milk, while a rennet-based cheese uses extracts from a cow’s stomach (there is also a vegetarian or plant-based rennet) to mix with milk. The mozzarella cheese making method gets involved with curds and whey and is a little more involved than making ricotta. You will have to take Paul’s class to learn all about it!
Verso Cellars is also part of Colorado Winery Row, which is located at 46th and Pecos in Denver (just off I-70). Together with the other wineries – Bonacquisti, Garfield Estates and Cottonwood Cellars, they are open for tasting Thursday through Saturday afternoons. They also hold several events during the year. On September 21 from 5-8 p.m. their monthly “Friday Uncorked” is happening, which features a local band, cuisine from various food trucks, and of course, wine tasting. I will be part of their festivities as well, and will be selling and signing my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries.
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Whether you are in Palisade or Denver, you can stop at Garfield Estates Vineyard & Winery for a taste of their delicious wines. Garfield Estates’ main tasting room along with their production facility and vineyard is located in Palisade. Here they produce their award-winning ALL estate-bottled wines. As owner Carol Carr says “we are growing great wines.” She explained to me that most growers want to produce 6-8 tons/acre of grapes. This allows them to achieve the maximum yield. However, a winemaker wants the grapes grown at 3-4 tons/acre, which allows the grapes to be more concentrated on the vines. Carol and Jeff Carr, being both grape growers and winemakers, can achieve the ultimate with their grapes, and actually grow grapes and then pick them for a specific wine they have in mind.
Carol says Garfield Estates is actually 3 businesses….farming, the winery and the tasting rooms. For 12 years Jeff has turned his passion about wine into being the winemaker and Carol turns Jeff’s passion into a working business. The Carr’s passion is all about making world-class wines from 100% estate-grown grapes. They are also part of the Grand Valley Winery Association, which includes 8 wineries that grow their own grapes and make their own wine.
About 2 years ago, the Carrs decided to add an additional tasting room and chose the Denver area. They joined Bonaquisti Wine Company and Verso Cellars to form Colorado Winery Row (just off I-70 & Pecos), and was later joined by Cottonwood Cellars. CWR makes for a fun, urban setting, where Thursday through Saturday you can sample wines from 4 different wineries. They also have several events during the year.
Stop by Garfield Estates for a taste of delicious estate-grown wines….my favorite is the Syrah!
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