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Friday Fishwrap
You Never Know Where Great Wine Will Be Grown

By Stephen Eliot

One of the great joys about hopping into a car and hitting the road for a long trip is that you never know what might lie around the next bend in the highway. I like to drive, and I like to drive long distances. You see and sense things about people and places that are impossible to grasp when flying over them. And, there is always the chance, maybe the likelihood is a better word, for surprise discoveries that make the trip far more memorable than the destination.

It has been vacation time here at CGCW, and while rolling through Western Colorado early this week and making a wrong turn off Interstate 70, I unexpectedly found myself surrounded by vineyards with billboards announcing that I was now in wine country. Now, I knew full well that I was a thousand miles short of anything that I knew as “wine country”, but curiosity being what it is, the compulsion to explore overcame any notion of schedules or a need to rack up so many more miles before day’s end.

It turns out that I had inadvertently discovered Colorado’s Grand Valley AVA, and we put on our tourist hats and took a turn up the first vine-lined driveway that came our way, one belonging to Canyon Wind Wine Cellars in Palisades. What started out as an impromptu and anonymous visit to a winery tasting room quickly turned into something else. The wines were quite good and compelled jotting down a few tasting notes rather than just sipping and smiling and hitting the road. Upon seeing me scribbling at the counter, our host for the day observed that we must be from California as Californians were the only ones who ever took notes, and his suspicions, he said, were confirmed when we asked for a spit-bucket rather than gulping down every last drop as was apparently the custom thereabouts.

From a refreshing Pinot Grigio and a firm, well-structured Sauvignon Blanc to a solid, currant Cabernet Sauvignon and a surprisingly sophisticated Bordelaise blend bearing the title “IV”, the winery’s offerings, all from local estate vineyards, were far better than anything I was expecting, and the Cabernet Franc, a grape that is rarely my favorite, was a bright and buoyant bottling that was nothing short of a revelation. I commented that the latter was very much in the Loire Valley style, and I was quickly corrected that no, it was made in the Colorado style. The winery was justifiably proud of its efforts, and I was once again reminded of the wisdom of not judging a book by its cover. It is not about labels or appellations or alcohol levels, it is about tasting wines one at a time. These were professional, well-crafted varietal wines of real depth and intent, and they were not in the least embarrassed by comparisons with the West Coast cousins.

So much of the day was spent sipping, spitting and talking that there was no time left to explore the Grand Valley district further, but an extended stay in Colorado wine country is very much on the agenda next Spring when the weather warms and the road once again beckons.


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Colorado won't be hidden for long
by Colorado Wine Press
Posted on:9/6/2011 11:32:07 AM

Stephen, glad that you enjoyed CWC! They make some very good wines. While Colorado has a tiny wine industry compared to the big four, we make some pretty darn good vino. Word of our quality wine is slowly starting to get two both coasts! Please let me know when you'll be in CO next and we'll open some more CO wine. Cheers!

by Jay
Posted on:9/6/2011 4:17:21 PM

I can't tell you how happy I am that you guys lucked on our door - thanks for the great story - we posted it on our website and the like.  Let us know next time you are out here, I would love to show you around the place if you have time.



    Jay Christianson - Winemaker Canyon Wind Cellars

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