During my recent visit to Colorado, I paid a visit to a few tasting rooms on the Colorado Front Range Wine Trail. The Front Range Wine Trail, which is in close proximity to Denver and consists of approximately 15 producers, is broken down into three touring areas: The Northern Region, Denver Region, and Southern Region. From where I stayed in Littleton, CO, the Denver Region, which is about 30-45 minutes to the west, was convenient to get to and provided a generous amount of natural, yet sometimes rugged, beauty and wild life to admire along the way.
As with many Virginia producers, all Colorado tasting rooms are not open for business during the work week. So when I saw that Creekside Cellars was open daily from 11am -5pm, I headed out Monday morning to pay them a visit. Creekside Cellars is nestled in the charm-filled, historic mountain town of Evergreen, CO, and is lined with gift shops, boutique stores, and restaurants.
When I initially stepped into Creekside Cellars, I thought I was at the wrong place. That’s because I didn’t realize that besides being a tasting room and winery, Creekside is also an Italian café -- and judging by the busy lunchtime crowd, a local favorite in downtown Evergreen too. After shuffling through the crowd I made my way over to the tasting bar where we were warmly greeted by a young lady named Michelle Cleveland.
Busy Lunchtime Crowd
Michelle is Creekside Cellar’s winemaker and exudes a youthful energy and passion for her craft. She studied under Bill Donahue, Creekside Cellar’s former winemaker and owner. From the literature I reviewed at the tasting bar, this family-owned and operated business began to develop in the 1980’s as a hobby gone wild for Bill and gang. Their vineyard, called the Vinelands, sits on ten acres in Palisade, Colorado, and is planted to Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Muscat grape varieties. The Palisade, a popular wine and fruit growing region, is within the Grand Valley AVA, which is one of two Colorado AVA’s (the other West Elks AVA) located in the western half of the state. From what I gather, a large percentage of Colorado’s wine grapes are grown between these two AVA’s because this is where the fruit grows best (e.g. temperate and higher elevations). The fruit is then harvested and transported to the tasting rooms and wineries to the east where the heavy concentration of people are and where vinifera vines have trouble surviving the harsh winters. This is the case for Creekside Cellars.
Creekside Cellars makes upwards of fifteen wines and their production level is approximately 3,000 cases per year. Overall, I can best describe the wines as new world flavor meets old world finesse. Some of the highlights were a varietally correct 2010 Gewürztraminer (SRP $16) that’s produced from a small 2 acre vineyard in the West Elks AVA. A nicely scented, smooth textured, and vibrant 2010 Viognier (SRP $20), produced from Creekside Cellar’s Vineland vineyard, was a pleasant surprise. It’s nice to see this noble northern Rhone grape variety producing very nice wine in several US states now – including Colorado! A barrel sample of a 2010 Chardonnay showed early elegance and a nice balance between fruit, oak, and acidity.
Enjoy Wine and Food with Friends on the Deck
Moving to some of the reds, the NV (non-vintage) Rosso (SRP $18), a bright and easy drinking red wine blend that could be served slightly chilled, is a perfect match to the restaurant’s Italian cuisine. Creekside Cellar's inky colored 2008 Syrah (SRP $25), grown at the Vinelands vineyard, offered black fruit flavors with a hint of spice, hazelnut, and a velvety finish. Packing a generous amount of structure was a still youthful 2008 Petite Sirah ($40) that displayed currant and peppery flavors and begged for a piece of grilled red meat. And if that wasn’t enough, a moderately complex, tasty, and well-balanced 2007Caberent Franc (SRP $30), grown at the Vinelands vineyard, graced my glass followed by a fairly rich and expressive 2008 Petit Verdot. I also had a chance to sample some of the developing wines in barrel and the future of Creekside Cellars is tasting good.
The Future is Tasting Good !!!
In closing, Creekside Cellars offers a friendly and welcoming atmosphere with an emphasis on regional wine and food. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating as well as a relaxing deck that overlooks the falls from within Bear Creek. Wine critic and writer Michael Broadbent says that, “Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures.” Whether you’re a resident of Colorado or just visiting, be sure to make a date with Creekside Cellars and enjoy the bliss factor of wonderfully paired food and wine with family and friends. This is not just a civilized pleasure, but a simple one worth pursuing many times over with good company. Cheers!
Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come!
CLICK HERE to visit Creekside Cellar's website.
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