Posts Tagged ‘SunCrest Orchard Alpacas’

What Else to See & Do Visit – SunCrest Orchard Alpacas

I took a break from my winery visits and made a stop at SunCrest Orchard Alpacas….its in the Grand Valley’s What Else to See & Do section of my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries. This is a “must stop” whether you are 5 or 95! Owners Mike and Cindy and their son, Chris are knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming. The complimentary tour starts with watching and learning about their 56 alpacas. So what’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama?? One major difference is their uses….alpacas are used for guarding sheep and llamas are used for carrying/packing. Importation of alpacas from Chile, Bolivia and Peru began in 1982 and stopped in 1997.  There are approximately 175,000 alpacas in the USA versus 6.5 million sheep.

Being a docent at the Denver Zoo, I was quite fascinated with them…so here’s some facts:

  1. They live for 20-25 years, and their fiber (not wool/hair) produces for 12-18 years.
  2. They ovulate only at copulation (which I’m not getting into!!), and give birth to 1 offspring called a cria.
  3. They eat a limited diet – 1.5 bales (65 lbs) of grass and hay per month and drink lots of water.
  4. Their fiber is the quality of cashmere with the durability of wool.

So how does their fiber become a product?? I’m going to give you a general overview, but you should stop by the farm and take the tour for yourself!!! The pictures below are labeled with the step and machine name.

  1. Washing machine – washed for 3.5 hours at 140 degrees.
  2. Dryer – after washing the fiber is 90% air-dried on racks.
  3. Picker – this machine opens up or pulls apart the fiber.
  4. Blows into room – (no picture) the Picker blows it into a sealed room where it is picked up after the static has stopped.
  5. Separator – this machine separates the hairs and vegetation and gets rid of hair follicles.
  6. Carder – combs out the fiber and produces 3 types of products: rug yarn, batting for quilting and regular yarn.
  7. Drafter – stretches the yarn to 2.5 times its size (done twice).
  8. Spinner – stretches the yarn further and twists it depending on what it will be used for.
  9. Plyer – makes the final yarn into 2, 3 or 4 ply (synthetic yarn is usually 8, 10 or 12 ply).
  10. Steamer – basically blow drys the yarn without combing it to “loft” it by relaxing the hair into its natural state.
  11. Skein winder – winds the yarn into big skeins for final use.

So now you know everything about alpacas and the processing of their fiber!!


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Winery Visit – The Grand Valley Region, Colorado

I was fortunate enough to spend 3 days in the Grand Valley a few weeks ago. Living in metro Denver, I enjoyed the quietness of the valley and no road rage!! I visited most of the 23 wineries that make up the Grand Valley Region. For my next several blogs, I will be highlighting the wineries that I visited and providing my thoughts about them. I hope you enjoy the information, and if you don’t reside in Palisade, that you will take a few days and spend some time in the area. Besides the winery stops there numerous sites to visit…two of my favorites are the Colorado National Monument and SunCrest Orchard Alpacas (more about my exciting visit with them on another blog).

Its summer in the valley, and currently the region is filled with fruit. Of course, our favorite being the grapes growing for winemaking!! But other fruit abounds and cherries, peaches, plums, pears and others are ripe for eating.

If you need a place to stay, the Wine Country Inn (I’ll blog about them later) is located in the center of its own vineyard and at I-70 and Exit #42 in the center of Palisade. There are other hotels, motels (many found on Horizon Drive at Exit #31) and B&Bs that are available as well. The Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau off Horizon Drive exit can help with your “tourist” needs.

I must admit, while I am familiar with the area, my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries – sure came in handy to organize my visit…knowing when the winery’s tasting room was open and using the printed directions to get there. If you don’t have a copy, you can purchase one through my website…www.ExploringColoradoWineries. Okay, enough of a plug about my book!!

Hope you enjoy your tour of the Grand Valley Region!


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