Despite living in Colorado for three years now, I went to (gasp) my first wine festival in this fine state this past weekend.
I know, I know; what have I been doing all this time? Well, to be honest, I’ve been buying wine from other states (please forgive me). But thanks to the Colorado Urban Winefest, all that is going to change.
I had no idea the delicious varieties of grapes that are grown and bottled right here in colorful Colorado.
In fact, there are more than 100 vineyards and wine producers in the state. While the vineyards aren’t necessarily close to downtown Denver, there are tasting rooms, wine shops and restaurants serving up the state’s finest all over the place.
Colorado Urban Winefest was part of Colorado Wine Week and hosted 36 wineries at Infinity Park, which I personally thought was a great location. There was plenty of space so even with the large crowd, it didn’t feel crowded and it was a gorgeous day to be out tasting.
So, let’s talk wine. Please note that I am not a sommelier and these picks are based on my own opinion and experience. If you disagree, let’s call that opinion; if you find something factually wrong, we’ll call that an honest mistake (please leave comments!)
Top three wineries (in alphabetical order)
Creekside Cellars – The moment I walked up, I knew I was getting into something special. This vendor wowed me with every wine, literally each sip better than the last. I’d be happy to have any of these wines, from a robust(o) red with a hearty meal next to a fire to a crisp white perfect for sipping on a patio in the summer. Creekside is a must for wine lovers.
Settembre Cellars – Settembre stood out on Saturday for a few reasons; one being that they had a different set up than most vendors at the festival, bringing tasters into their tent and around small tables for intimate group tastings. This did mean that you had to wait in line, but once you tasted the first pour, you realized it was worth it. Their wine told stories of the vineyard where the grapes were grown and the family behind the wine. If you’re in Boulder, I highly recommend picking up some of these wines as they are only sold in select stores.
Sutcliffe Vineyards – The crowd around this vendor’s table said it all – come drink this delicious wine, and never leave. Ever. I felt like I was walking into a good friend’s living room when I stepped up to the table and I was not disappointed by the selection of wine offered. Sutcliffe poured some of their award-winning wines and won the crowd over with their simple wine-making techniques. If I make it to Cortez, I know where I’m going.
Top three wines (in no particular order)
Red – Red wine (in a jug!) from Bonacquisti Wine Company. Yes, part of me just wanted the jug, but the majority of me really loved this wine. I fell in love with a blend of two vintage Cabernet Sauvignons, known as Sunnyside Red. It’s an easy-to-drink table wine, as found on many Italian (and American) family’s dinner tables. And since this place is located conveniently in the Highlands, I’ll definitely be going to see Paul and getting my refill of whatever’s on tap. I suggest you do the same.
White – Viognier from Creekside Cellars, a.k.a the “perfect summer wine,” made from grapes grown at The Vinelands, Creekside’s own vineyard in Palisades, Colo. I said the first white I tried from this vendor was my new favorite summer wine, but I hadn’t tried this one yet. In fact, the woman pouring said to me, “Oh, I think the next one is the perfect summer wine.” She was right. It begs to be drunk while sitting outside on a patio or in the grass hanging with friends and enjoying the Colorado sun.
Wildcard – Mocha Zinsation from Aspen Peak Cellars. This is truly a wildcard for me; I’m not a big dessert wine drinker and mocha is certainly not my flavor of choice but there was something special about this that told me it had to be on my list. I would enjoy sipping this wine around a campfire while toasting s’mores. The winery is in Bailey and its website boasts of an amazing B&B in Conifer, which I feel like I have to explore. A stay in the Chardonnay room? Yes, please.
In other news, I have a new food truck obsession – Capt’n Crabby. Being a native Marylander, I am skeptical of places in Denver (or anywhere outside of Maryland, for that matter) that claim to make crab anything, especially crab cakes. But when I saw Dimitri (a.k.a. Jimmy the Greek) wearing an O’s cap, I knew it was the real deal.
Capt’n Crabby started about two years ago and uses an old family crab cake recipe, plus they fly in lump crab meat from Maryland. Dimitri even served me up some Old Bay style chips. Is your mouth watering yet?
a version of this post originally appeared on Denver Off the Wagon