Tag Archives: Colorado wines

Colorado’s Home-Grown & Home-Made Adult Beverages

Beer, wine and the hard stuff from Colorado ingredients

ColoradoFlagIt is no secret Colorado is one of the top craft beer producing states in the nation with 160 breweries and counting, award-winning craft distilleries across the state and unique wines.. While Colorado is known for its après adventure libations, many don’t realize the secret ingredients are local ingredients from Colorado farms and often times from the beverage producers’ own farms and gardens. They call it “seed to table,” a phrase I like. The mammoth Coors brewery has for years boasted of using pure Rocky Mountain spring water, and that’s a key ingredient to other adult beverages too. The Colorado Tourism Board has assembled a sampling of some of Colorado’s top distilleries, breweries and wineries offering seed to table beverages, most with tasting rooms and tours.


  • Deerhammer Distilling Company in Buena Vista is an award winning micro-distillery specializing in premium small batch whiskey. Deerhammer sources their grain from the sort-of nearby San Luis Valley. Their Buena Vista Brandy is made in partnership with vineyards on Colorado’s Western Slope, and the barrel-aged spiced apple liqueur to be released this fall was made from 900 pounds of hand-cut apples from Cedaredge. They also work with some of the smaller farmers in the Buena Vista area to trade spent grain as animal feed for various cocktail ingredients such as mint, pickled green beans, beets and even bacon.
  • Peach Street Distillers in Palisade, the heart of Colorado’s fruit belt. It is the first Colorado distillery that I became aware of. In fact, it was the state’s first artisanal distillery and was named the American Distilling Institute’s 2012 “Distillery of The Year.” It utilizes was named the American Distilling Institute’s 2012 “Distillery of The Year.” various fruits from a stone’s throw away from their distillery. Last year, it utilized local corn, sage and more than 90,000 pounds of over-ripened Palisade peaches and pears. Peach Street also recently acquired a farm to begin growing their own produce for their spirits.
  • Peak Spirits Farm Distillery at the USDA-certified organic and Demeter-certified Biodynamic Jack Rabbit Hill Farm creates handcrafted CapRock gin, vodka and brandies as well as Jack Rabbit Hill wines. Each product is made with certified organic fruit grown at Jack Rabbit Hill in the North Fork Valley and nearby Gunnison River Farms and Ela Family Farms, and cut back with naturally pure, soft water from the CapRock formation on Grand Mesa. Peak Spirits is the recipient of several national awards including a James Beard Foundation Nomination for Outstanding Beer Wine & Spirits Professional and Good Food Awards for both CapRock Gin and Vodka.
  • Spring44 Distilling in Loveland utilizes Colorado water from its own artesian spring well in its spirits. Spring44’s Honey Vodka includes Colorado honey and its Old Tom Gin includes locally grown rosemary and coriander. The distillery is also currently developing bourbon utilizing local grains.
  • The new Woody Creek Distillers in Basalt grow sits own alpine potatoes at Scanlan Family Farm in Woody Creek for their potato vodkas that are completely grown, distilled and bottled in the Roaring Fork Valley. It will also be releasing three specialty spirits including gin, apple brandy and pear Eau de Vie made from pears and apples from local farms, Colorado rye and wheat, mountain spring water and Colorado-sourced barley malted by Coors.


  • Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins is committed to serving the communities in which they distribute by sourcing local raw materials. Its Amuste Imperial Porter utilizes Tempranillo grapes from Colorado’s Western Slope; Tree Shaker Imperial IPA includes 3,000 pounds of Colorado peaches from Big B’s/Delicious Orchards in Paonia; FRIEK includes cherries and raspberries from Colorado’s Western Slope and Front Range and Mountain Standard Double Black IPA features hops hand-picked by Odell’s brewers from Western Slope farms.
  • Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont and elsewhere is a funky little brewpub that started the craft-beer-in-a-can craze ten years ago with Dale’s Pale Ale. Oskar Blues has its own Hops & Heifers Farm with a two-acre hops field in addition to growing its own vegetables, Black Angus Cattle and Berkshire Pigs to supply their restaurants. They also use spent grain from the brewing process to supplement feed for the animals, and they host beer dinners at their farm.
  • Ska Brewing Company’s signature True Blonde and True Blonde Dubbel include local honey from Durango’s own Honeyville. It also brews Hoperation Ivy, a wet-hop IPA that coincides with the Colorado hop harvest each August. Hoperation Ivy is made entirely with ingredients sourced in Colorado including organic hops from Leroux Creek Farms in Hotchkiss, and malt from the Colorado Malting Co. in Alamosa.
  • Twisted Pine Brewing Company in Boulder has also utilized local resources as often as possible. Last year, the brewery started the Farm to Foam series, using only ingredients sourced in state. The initial beer in the series, Roots Revival, introduced carrots grown just north of Boulder into an American-style Pale Ale. The latest offering from the series is the Cucumber Cream Ale utilizing Crystal hops from Olathe and fresh English cucumbers from the 2 R’s Farm in Platteville.
  • Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver’s Lower Downtown (LoDo) is Colorado’s first brewpub celebrating its 25th year of pioneering, small-batch liquid art. The latest small-batch canned good is Belgorado, a Belgian-style IPA made with Colorado-grown malts and hops. The malted barley is grown and malted by Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa. The whole-leaf and pelletized hops come from Misty Mountain Hop Farm in Olathe. Wynkoop famously launched founder John Hickenlooper into a political career, first as mayor of Denver and now as governor of Colorado.


  • Augustina’s Winery in Boulder is a one-woman operation creating novel and unexpected blends from unusual grapes sourced from Colorado farms. The Venus de Vino Table Wine is made from Boulder’s Leistikow Farms Marechal Foch grapes. Augustina’s Winery makes sure that each and every bottle has its own personality and purpose including wines that go with backpacking adventures, mystery novels and gingersnaps.
  • Canyon Wind Cellars in Palisade is a family-owned, estate winery that does everything on-property from growing the grapes through winemaking and bottling. The award-winning, signature wines utilize sustainable and low-intervention winemaking practices including a computer controlled drip watering system, a complete weather and soil moisture monitoring system and no use of herbicides.
  • Sutcliffe Vineyards‘ 12 acres nestled at the foot of the Sleeping Ute Mountain in Southwestern Colorado are planted with Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Petit Verdot .The estate and 22 additional sustainably and responsibly farmed acres are overseen by three farmers who meticulously farm, harvest and vinify. Eschewing the adding of tannins, color enhancers or acid, they allow the wines to reflect the grapes.
  • Terror Creek Winery in Paonia is reputedly the highest commercially operating vineyard and winery in the Northern Hemisphere. It cultivates some of the original grapes planted on the Western Slope from the Four Corners Research Project in the mid-1970s. Winery owner Joan Mathewson trained in winemaking in Switzerland and uses many of the traditional central European methods for trellising and training her vines.
  • The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City began as an extension of the next-door Benedictine Abbey and exists independently today. It buys some of its fruit from the nearby state penitentiary’s vineyard and orchard management rehab program, but it also created Wild Canyon Harvest from the grapes picked by area residents from backyard vines and growing wild, which are remnants of the thriving grape growing and winemaking at the end of the 19th century. Now many of those original, resilient vines are still growing in backyards and open space.

Colorado Urban Winefest Coming Up

Wine event moves to new Denver venue

ColoUrbanWinefest-logoI was out of the country during the 2012 Colorado Urban Winefest, but I’m here this year and have penciled in June 8 to check out the growing festival and its new venue, Infinity Park in Glendale. The Winefest, called the capstone of the third annual Colorado Wine Week, features more than 40 Colorado wineries plus food from Denver restaurants and entertainment. Organizers from Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE) expect a record of more than 2,500 attendees.

General admission ($40) includes free samples from all participating Colorado wineries, educational seminars, chef demos and live entertainment. The food will be available for purchase, as are wines by the glass, bottle or case for on-site consumption or to take home. Click here for a Colorado Wine Week schedule beginning on June 2 and to buy tickets online.

Wine & Potato Chip Pairing

Wine industry conference features oddball pairing event open to the public

CAVE-logoRegular old potato chips like Lay’s or, heaven help us, Pringles (those unpleasant reconstructed chip-shaped items in a tube) won’t do for attendees at the third annual VinCO conference in Grand Junction. VinCO is a program of the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE), a trade association of Colorado growers and wineries. They are working hard to make quality wines, and their conference merits quality snacks to go with them.

Just one event, the imaginative Gourmet Chip and Wine Pairing mixer, is open to the public. It features gourmet house-made chips created by four leading Grand Valley restaurants (626 on Rood, Bin 707, Il Bistro Italiano and Le Rouge). Think baked yellow beet chips with smoked paprika and fleur de sel or
russet potato chips with fennel and Champagne vinegar. Wineries will pour an artisanal selection of Colorado wines.

With so many haute cuisine events on the culinary calendar, it tickles me that creative, house-made chips are the one and only featured food. Chris and Mary Britt, DJs at Grand Junction’s Magic 93.1 DJs, will emcee the event, and attendees will vote on their favorite pairings.

The good news is that entry to the Gourmet Chip and Wine Pairing is only $15. The bad news that it takes place at the  SpringHill Suites in downtown Grand Junction at SpringHill Suites, a city that I wish were closer to home. The event is on Wednesday, January 16 (smack in the middle of the January 15 to 17 conference) . Tickets are available online, or FoMoInfo, call 970-464-0111.

Castle Rock Wine Festival This Weekend

Summer is mid-season in the wine world. The grapes are theoretically growing without vintner intervention to protect them from frost, pruning or heavey hands-on cultivation. It’a not yet harvest and crush time, so wine festivals abound. If you live or are visiting the greater Denver.area and are seeking some diversion, this might just be the ent for you.

Castle Rock Wine Fest

The ninth annual Castle Rock Wine Fest is a one-day wonder on Saturday, June 21, when more than two dozen Colorado wineries — most small, family-owned — set up tasting tables in The Grange.  Taking place from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m., it includes wine seminars and demonstrations, artisans/lifestyle vendors, entertainment and participating vendors offering delicious cuisine.  Bottles and cases of wines from from participating wineries are available for purchase. In addition to proximity to Front Tange cities, arrendance at the festival is very reasonable. — just $37, and if you purchase today, it’s just $27. Designated drivers pay $17, and kids are admitted free.  FoMoInfo: Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce,  420 Jerry Street, Castle Rock, 303-688-4597.


2nd Annual Colorado Urban Winefest Moves into Town

Winery Row’s Bonacquisiti hosted preview of Colorado Wine Week highlight

The Colorado Winefest debuted last June as a three-day offspring of the long-running Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade. It’s back for 2012 with a new name and a new venue. Click here for my report on last year’s inaugural.

This fine festival moving. Last year, it was infused personality into the sterility of Stapleton-Northfield, whose main positive attribute is abundant free parking (it is, after all, an outdoor shopping mall). This year, it is going to Denver’s sculpture park between Speer Boulevard and the Denver Performing Arts Center. To reflect its new location, it also has a new name: Colorado Urban Winefest. A preview tasting yesterday evening at Winery Row on Pecos just south of I-70 provided the trade and media a small glimpse of the makeover. I’m glad I was able to attend, because I will be out of the country during Colorado Wine Week itself.

Colorado Winery Row's logo. .

Bonacquisti Winery hosted the tasting, which featured 42 Front Range and Western Slope wineries. Like the winefest itself, the preview featured a palate-training component. The preview version was pretty simple — half-a-dozen glasses in which such materials as citrus fruits and cedar chips were placed for sniffing, and two wines to practice on. A real “wine wheel” will be at the festival. For the preview, the organizers also brought in a food truck, because food trucks will assemble at the winefest too.

The "training table" held aromatics that can be detected in wines and a couple of wines to train people how to identify them without looking at the label.

Colorado Wine Week (May 30 to June 9), which is well over a week, features wine-oriented events including free in-store tastings ( May 30 to June 9) and a glass of Colorado wine paired with special dishes at participating restaurants scattered throughout the metro area  (June 3 to 9). The festival includes a number of new events, including athe Colorado Wine Cocktail Celebration (June 4), East Meets West (pairing of Front Range wineries and Grand Valley vineyards), Colorado Wine Farmers Market (June 6), Colorado Governor’s Cup (wine tasting of the American Wine Society regional competition winners at the Governor’s Residence, June 7) and a Cruiser Ride through downtown Denver from a starting point to be announced to the Winefest.

Click here for ticket information or to purchase online.