It’s time for your big holiday feast, and you’ve decided to go as local as possible. You have your ham from Fox Fire Farms, cheeses from Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, desserts from Kim & Jake’s Cakes and your wine from — France? To make your meal truly local, try looking a little closer to home for your beverages.
Colorado is home to more than 90 vineyards. According to the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, Colorado’s grape-growing regions range in elevation from 4,000 to 7,000 feet, making them some of the highest vineyards in the world, and during the past 25 years the number of licensed wineries operating in the state has grown from one to 42. You can find many of these selections right here in Boulder, either from local winemakers or merchants. These bottles make excellent additions to your own festive feasts, or a great gift to introduce friends and family to Colorado’s blossoming wine tradition.
Augustina Winery, Colorado’s only “one-woman winery,” is owned and operated by Marianne “Gussie” Walter. Walter uses grapes from family-owned vineyards in Grand Junction and Palisade. The winery is located at 4715 N. Broadway, in Boulder, and you can call 303-545-2047 for hours of operation.
Ciatano’s Vineyards in Lyons (16858 N. St. Vrain Dr.) uses Colorado-sourced grapes for its selection of whites and reds. The winter hours for their tasting room are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Monday, through April 30.
Bookcliff Vineyards (1501 Lee Hill Rd., Boulder) owns its own vineyard in Palisade to control the quality from grape to glass. You can visit their Boulder location through December, Thursday through Sunday, from 1 to 6 p.m., and January through May, Friday through Sunday 1 to 6 p.m.
Settembre Wines in Boulder hand-crafts limited edition wines with Colorado grapes. Their wines are available for delivery by bicycle in north and central Boulder, and by conventional shipping methods elsewhere. Or you can schedule a private tasting by calling 303-818-9324.
The tasting room at Boulder Creek Winery (6440 Odell Place, Boulder) is open year-round, Thursday through Saturday, from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Stop in and taste their award-winning Riesling and Cabernet.
You can find a full list of Colorado vineyards and wine merchants at www.coloradowines.com.
And for those of you torn between a pinot noir and a pinot grigio, Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, offers some tips for wine pairings.
If roast beef, lamb or wild game is on the menu, try pairing it with one of Colorado’s intense Cabernets and Syrahs from the Grand Valley. The Syrah’s black pepper notes match a heavily peppered recipe perfectly.
Cabernet Sauvignon, with intense, dark fruits and tannins, cries out for a nice, juicy prime rib, and the aromas of Cabernet Franc, a close relative of Cabernet Sauvignon, or Petit Verdot, frequently blended with the Cabernets in Bordeaux, are enchanting with the flavor medley in Colorado lamb.
While turkey is a game bird by origin (or in the general fowl category if you’re buying conventional versus heirloom or heritage birds), you’re not limited to just white wines. The rich gravies, stuffings and side dishes served alongside the main course allow you to uncork a nice red with light fruit and a fuller, longer finish. This also provides options for those among us who actually prefer the dark meat on the carving platter. The flavors of turkey are really determined by the ingredients of the stuffing or the seasonings and the sauce. If your stuffing is seasoned with oysters, look for that dry, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. If you add sausage into the mix, go with an off-dry Gewürztraminer.
And if you’re looking for a red wine to match a rich brown gravy, the Pinot Noirs from the West Elks area are ideal.
Vegetarian dishes pair well with the soft, fruity notes in Merlot, a perfect complement to Colorado-grown butternut squash or a dried-cherry sauce.
To round out the meal, don’t forget a great Colorado Port to pair with pecan pie or a Muscat with pumpkin pie.
For those of you who prefer mead to traditional grape-based vino, Redstone Meadery in Boulder offers free tastings of its honey-based wines. Their tasting room is open Monday through Friday from noon to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday noon to 5 p.m. Or, if you’re near Niwot, visit Medovina Meadery (www.medovina.com). Their honey wine is produced from bees raised in the heart of Niwot. (You could get more local, but we’re not sure how.) In addition to great honey wines, Medovina also offers private tasting seminars by appointment, so you can get your fill of mead and know-how all in one go.
Whether giving as a gift or uncorking at your own party, Colorado wines are a great way to taste some local flavor.