Because spring can be somewhat schizophrenic in Colorado, with plenty of cold days as well as plenty of lovely warm days depending on where you are, we want to give people options for both. To that end, we asked six winemakers west of 105 to recommend a wine for the season.
Located in charming Palisade, Colterris is at the heart of the Grand Valley AVA and produces some excellent wine. With a name that means “from the Colorado land” it’s no surprise that all Colterris wines are produced from 100 percent Colorado grapes grown in the Colterris estate vineyards and bottled (and canned) on site.
Family owned and operated since 2010, Colterris is actually made up of four different vineyard sites, the largest of which is Theresa’s Vineyard which contains two Bordeaux varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot across the 19.22-acre site. The favorable eco-climate of Theresa’s Vineyard, the volcanic soils of Grand Mesa and the waters of the Colorado River contribute to the rich color, intense fruit flavors and characteristics that make Colterris wines unique. Colterris also produces “canterris,” canned wine that is currently available as four can packs and has received some very favorable reviews, including a 90 point award from James Suckling.
Livid Malbec Rose
Vibrant with crisp acid and intense notes of fresh, ripe strawberry and subtle hints of blackberry, spice and pepper on the palate.
Enjoy with: A strawberry and arugula salad with sweet lime dressing, seafood paella or Asian sweet and sour dishes.
Producing classic varietal wines at their farm winery overlooking their vineyards and the broad vista of the Grand Valley of the Colorado River, Whitewater Hill utilizes the ancient seabed of mineral-rich limestone soils at 4,600 feet, helped by the combination of warm days and crisp nights with austere growing conditions, to produce wines that are full of flavor yet elegant and balanced. Whitewater Hill produces a long list of wines, including Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Merlot, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and the 2018 double gold winning Moscato. Whitewater Hill has something for every kind of wine lover. The tasting room is typically open daily between 10am - 5:45pm, but call ahead as times can change depending on the season.
2019 Whitewater Hill Dry Rosé of St. Vincent
With a delicate nose of strawberry and watermelon and an elegant floral note, this wine is crisp, bright and totally dry. A versatile wine, it is as good with food as it is on its own.
Enjoy with: Try pairing it with slightly salty ham, rich and creamy scalloped potatoes, or slightly spicy devilled eggs.
Located just outside Paonia (inside Root & Vine Market and with breathtaking views of Mt. Lamborn), Qutori Wines is a family-run operation. Purchased by the Bennett family in 2016, with son Kyle taking the reins as winemaker, they started by planting eight acres of Pinot Noir grapes across the street from what would eventually become the tasting room. (They also planted a four-acre sweet cherry orchard.) The grapes from those eight acres are the basis of Qutori’s estate Pinot Noir. Qutori produces several other wines using grapes grown in the West Elks AVA and other varietals grown in Colorado including a 2018 Chardonnay aged in bourbon barrels. Qutori’s 2017 Syrah won double gold at the Colorado Governor’s Cup.
2017 Qutori Reserve Pinot Noir
A silver medal winner at the 2019 Governor’s Cup, this wine is aged for 18 months in 100 percent new Hungarian oak barrels. With notes of dark cherry and raspberry with a hint of rich cola spice, this wine is unfined and unfiltered.
Enjoy with: Salmon, lamb and steak dishes.
Located in Palisade, Carlson Vineyards is another family-owned winery that focuses on producing easy drinking, regionally distinctive wines. First planted back in 1981 by Parker and Mary Carlson, the winery was purchased by Garrett and Caitlin Portra.
Garrett started working at Carlson Vineyards back in 2011 with hopes of starting a winery of his own someday. Carlson produces almost three dozen wines, including fruit wines produced with the incredible fruit available in Western Colorado. Carlson has a tasting room in Palisade that is open every day from 10am until 5:45 pm as well as one in downtown Grand Junction which is open Wednesday through Saturday 12pm until 8pm and Sunday from 10am until 5:45pm.
2017 Tyrannosaurus Rex Lemberger
This wine has aromas of raspberry and tart cherries with hints of sweet caramelized oak. On the palate you will get black cherry and currants with hints of blueberry with an earthy and peppery finish.
Enjoy with: Soft tannins make this good for pairing with tomato sauces and red meat as well as spicy dishes like pork green chili.
Buckel Family Wines
A small family-owned winery nestled in the mountains of Crested Butte, Buckel Family Wines produces old world-style wines with minimal intervention therefore allowing the terroir and grapes of Colorado to express themselves. They pride themselves on making outstanding wine while living in the place they love the most.
Co-founder and winemaker Joe Buckel has been in the wine business for over a decade. Passionate about the process of making wine — from walking vineyards, harvesting grapes, and fermenting wine to barreling, racking, and bottling. Joe has worked as an enologist at Flowers Vineyard and Winery and BR Cohn Winery and as winemaker at Sutcliffe Vineyards. His talent has garnered 90 point ratings from Wine Enthusiast. Buckel Family Wines recently opened a tasting room in nearby Gunnison which is open Wednesdays-Saturdays from 2pm to 7pm.
2018 Sauvignon Blanc
With a perfume of ripe grapefruit, pineapple and melon and with notes of green pepper and apricot, the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc has a long mineral finish. Great for warm spring days on its own it also pairs very well with food.
Enjoy with: Try it with green vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes and salads with light vinaigrettes. It is also a great complement to dishes with pesto as well as oysters.
The Storm Cellar
With distinguished careers in the Denver hospitality scene - where they worked between them as wine director, sommelier, mixologist, restaurant manager, and beverage director - Steve Steese and Jayme Henderson traded in their lives in the city for something a little more rural. Storm Cellar was founded upon a love of Colorado, a desire to make great wine in Colorado, and with a goal of helping to put a relatively unknown, yet up-and-coming wine region, on the national map.
In 2017 they purchased the 85-acre Redstone Vineyard in Hotchkiss and got to work. Currently planted with 15 acres of wine grapevines, with eight additional acres plumbed and available for further planting, the vineyard boasts incredible views from the top of Sunshine Mesa between the towns of Paonia and Hotchkiss.
A silver medal winner at the 2019 Colorado Governor’s Cup, this Chardonnay has tropical fruit aromas, a honeyed texture, balanced acidity, and soft nuances of French oak. It is also a more food-friendly style of Chardonnay.
Enjoy with: Pairs well with a wide range of foods, from crab and lobster, to grilled chicken and vegetables.