For me, getting out to the farmlands or the mountains is a relaxing endeavor. There is just something about no rush hour traffic, no city noise, or no hustle / bustle of the city that calms and renews me when I’m in the country or mountains. I had the opportunity to experience that pleasure this week at Ten Bears Winery. Nestled in the foothills just northwest of Ft. Collins, Ten Bears Winery is a great place to stop, enjoy some delicious wines, and sit on the patio listening to nature.
Bill Conkling, owner and winemaker, is expanding his winery in LaPorte. He added an outside patio to his tasting room so you can sit and drink wine while enjoying the mountain views and a new barn to assist with increased production. He is also considering the possibility of conducting small events in the new barn. What most people would find amazing, is the fact that he is also growing his own grapes! These are the cold hardy variety. I’ve blogged about cold hardy grapes before, but to refresh your memory, these are a hybrid grape of Vitis Vinifera and wild American grapes. The Vitis Vinifera grapes provide the flavor and the wild American grapes increase the ability to withstand our colder Colorado winters. Bill grows two types – LaCrescent (a white) and Marquette (a red).
Bill planted these vines in 2009, and as you all know, it’s a 5-7 year process before you have enough grapes for an ample harvest. 2014 was the first year that Bill produced wine with his Marquette grapes and blended that into his delicious Poudre River Red wine. He used the LaCrescent grapes in some of his white blended wines. 2016 is proving to be a good harvest year (all across Colorado actually) and Bill is planning to make a stand alone Marquette wine with his own grapes. I’m looking forward to trying that!!!
Most people don’t expect a winery with a small vineyard to be in Northern Colorado, but Ten Bears is just that….a great place to sample delicious wines while sitting on the patio, looking at the mountains, and listening to the birds. The next time you need a “city break” head to Ten Bears Winery, you will be glad you did!!
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There is a new tasting room that just opened up in Colorado!! It’s called Two Brothers Vineyards Tasting Room and is located in Black Forest. For those of you not familiar with Black Forest or remember the devastating fire that ravaged the area, it is located between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs. The exact address is 6755 Shoup Road 80908. Hours are Thursday through Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. Other times, please call ahead at 719-495-7340.
Owners of Black Forest Meadery, Adam and Shawna Shapiro, have created this tasting room enabling you to sample meads, ciders, and wines all at the same location. What a great idea! I have been encouraging people to sample meads and ciders from Colorado as they are NOT the sweet, fermented beverages you find sold commercially in liquor stores. Black Forest Meadery has available 4 of their meads…..Forest Mead, Mead in the Woods, Melody in the Woods, and Wildfire, which vary from semi-sweet to dry.
Colorado Cider Company, whose production facility and tasting room are located at 2650 W. 2nd Avenue in Denver and Ten Bears Winery, located in LaPorte just northwest of Ft. Collins, round out your experience at the tasting room. They are offering 5 flights for $6, which includes your choice of 2 meads, 2 wines, and 1 cider. You can also purchase any of these beverages by the glass or bottle. For my Facebook and website friends, the tasting room is offering a special “buy one, get one free” offer. Just tell them Paula or Exploring Colorado Wineries sent you to receive the discount.
The tasting room has patio seating where you can watch the sun set over the mountains while enjoying your beverage. You can also bring in your own food or order food from a nearby restaurant. I encourage you to stop by Two Brothers Vineyards Tasting Room soon!! As their theme says….”Buzz by for a taste in the trees.”
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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!
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