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Colorado Wine Country: Beyond the AVAs

Photo: The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

While Colorado has just two AVAs, #wine grapes are grown in a few other areas West of 105 including: Montezuma County in the Four Corners region, Fremont and Poncha Springs in the Arkansas Valley, and Delta and Montrose counties. Just like the two federally recognized AVAs, each of these areas has its own unique combination of geography, soil and elevation that leads to unique, and quite quaffable, wines. Here are a few of our favorites that are known to turn out some great bottles.



The family-owned and -operated winery started making wine in 2015 with sales starting in January of this year, however, Joe Buckel started making wine in Sonoma County, California in 2004 before moving to Colorado a decade ago. If Joe’s accolades are anything to go by - a 94 point wine and three 90 point ratings from Wine Enthusiast as well as Gold medals in the Colorado's Governor's Cup - wine lovers in Colorado will have new wines to add to their collections. As for varietals, they currently produce chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, petit verdot, cabernet franc, pinot noir, and cinsault, as well as Flyer, their red blend, and a rosé.

The #winery is currently working on a new production facility and tasting room in #CrestedButte which it is hoped will be ready in time for next summer.


Located in #PonchaSprings in the Arkansas River Valley, Vino #Salida opened in 2009 but moved to it current location in 2016. Currently, owner Steve Flynn produces around 2,500 cases a year of the state’s finest varietals including chardonnay, viognier, riesling, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chambourcin, and arandell. Vino Salida has won awards at the Colorado Governor's Cup, the Colorado State Fair, the Mesa County Fair, the Mazer Cup International Mead Competition, and the Flavor of Pueblo.  

The tasting room, in addition to offering the full range of wines for purchase, also offers a full dining menu.

Open year round


Located in #Olathe, Garrett Estate has been around since 2003 but the nexus of the winery goes back several years before that when the mother of current owner, Mitch Garrett, suggested the idea of starting a winery. Today, Garrett Estate has 35 acres and grows seven varieties: pinot gris, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, gewurztraminer, and riesling. The latter two often give people a surprise (and have also won praise) because their are dry and therefore different to many gewurztraminers and rieslings. In fact, Garrett Estate only produces dry wines.

Garrett also tried to be as sustainable as possible and hand-picks all of their grapes, does not use pesticides of any kind and are a geothermal winery. The Garrett Estate unoaked chardonnay and Pheasant Run red blend are their flagship wines. Garrett Estate wines have received awards and recognition in wine competitions in Colorado, the Southwest, California and internationally. The winery is open by appointment year round


The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey is a boutique winery located on the historic grounds of Holy Cross Abbey in #CañonCity.

Larry Oddo, the CEO of Holy Cross, spent 22 years in public accounting on the East Coast before trading that career in for entrepreneurship in Colorado. Oddo says that they try hard to remember the mission of the monks when they make wine as well as being thoughtful to members of their community. Oddo says that employees share in the success of the winery through incentive compensation and benefit programs and are, as a result, invested in the success of the winery which shows in the final product. That is borne out by the plethora of awards the winery has received, particularly in the last three years, including having several wines rated 88 or better by Wine Enthusiast. The 2015 Colorado Revelation will receive a 90 in the November 2018 issue.

Opening in June 2002, the winery produced 3,800 cases in its first year, but will more than double that this year with around 9,000 cases.

Open year round

Want to read about Colorado's other AVA? Click here to read about Grand Valley AVA and here to read about West Elks AVA


Read the full article in the Autumn, 2018 issue of West of 105, available for free here.


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