Colorado's Grand Valley - Printable Version

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- andypandy - 06-15-2006 10:03 AM

For anyone interested, here is my notes on my short little trip. Most of the wineries are clustered around Palisade, just to the east of Grand Junction. Great microbreweries as well...anyone in the area has to visit the Palisade Brewery but especially make sure you visit the Breckenridge Brewery Alehouse and Kannah Creek Brewing in Grand Junction. While you're visiting the Palisade Brewery walk next door to the Peach Street Distillery. This relatively new distillery has three owners (two of them purely financial/marketing support) and ONE employee. I don't remember his name, but that one employee showed me around and really knew his stuff, because he was the distiller himself. They make artisan vodkas and fruit brandies, all of it in small, hand-made batches, and in two years the first batch of bourbon will be ready.
Okay, on to the wines. Being a neophite, I had never been to a winery before, so of course I had my first time jitters. The wine industry in this valley is very young, most of these wineries have only been around a few years, but really starting to make waves and get a lot of attention. It was interesting to see this recent history and makes you think, "Gee whiz, why don't I find 20 acres and do this myself?"
I stopped first at Garfield--an 11 acre vineyard with a family home on it and the winery and tasting room in the renovated barn in the back. Very friendly and non-assuming, as well as enthusiastic. I chatted with the winemaker who was raised in an old, wine-making household in Germany and came to America to foray into the New World winemaking. Picked up a bottle of their baby: the Syrah, but their Fume Blanc was fantastic as well.
Then on to the Rocky Mountain Meadery. Interesting to see. I wasn't crazy about the meads, which I'd never had before, because they were SOO sweet, but I picked up the driest one available which I thought was pretty good: the King Arthur.
Right across the street was Plum Creek, so I stopped in. This one's been around since 1984, making it the oldest of the wineries in the region. I found during this little tour that the tasting room attendant makes or breaks my experience of the winery, and this one was great. Took home some of their Reserve Merlot, which is 10% Cab Sauv and 5% Cab Frank.
Carlson was a fun visit, and had a definite unassuming air. Actually, it felt like I was in some hillbilly's barn where he makes moonshine. I pretty much was. I picked up the Tyrannosaurus Red Lemberger (Blaufrankisch) that I'd heard some buzz about and found to be pretty tasty and different. Their Riesling is also fantastic and has won a lot of awards locally and internationally.
My final visit was clear over on the other side of Grand Junction on the way out to the Colorado National Monument, but probably the highlight of my short little tour. Two Rivers Winery is beautiful! There has been a lot of money and love invested into this place. Big stone buildings with arched doorways and heavy wooden doors give it an old-world feel, and the grounds are absolutely gorgeous. The two tasting room attendants were the happiest, most enthusiastic, and knowledgeable of any that I encountered. I found out soon that they were brother and sister, and their parents were the vineyard owners. Very cool, a definite family endeavor and labor of love. They don't grow all of their own grapes, but they do make some very tasty wines. The cab sauv almost knocked my socks off, and it was hard to not buy more than I did.
So there's my long-winded review. There's a lot more wineries there that I didn't visit all within minutes of each other and right there in that beautiful, butte-enclosed valley. For those of you who love Riesling, the Grand Valley is growing some fantastic Rieslings, and you'll enjoy what you find here. Be careful if you have to drive through Utah to get there--I was nervous--because carrying out-of-state beer, liquor, or wine across the border is contraband and if you get caught it will be confiscated. Watch your speed and cover the goods with a blanket.
EDIT: Paragraphs, what a novel idea! Okay, hope that helps with readability.

[This message has been edited by andypandy (edited 06-15-2006).]

- dananne - 06-15-2006 10:25 AM

Thanks for the notes! Sounds like a fun trip!

- wondersofwine - 06-15-2006 02:27 PM

Hmmm! A future offline near Grand Junction, Co?

- Innkeeper - 06-15-2006 02:38 PM

Great, interesting report, but next time you break up the paragraphs a little!!

- winoweenie - 06-16-2006 06:21 AM

Good notes Andy. Having lived in Denver for 20 I saw the emergence of this area from a tree-fruit producing region into the planting of the first vineyards. As with all new areas it has taken them awhile to assertain the rite varietals to plant. Haven't been thru there for over 6 years on our last trip to Vail and then we didn;t stop. Beautiful valley and glad they are now getting the hang of the grape. WW

[This message has been edited by winoweenie (edited 06-16-2006).]