Last year we enjoyed the all day scenic wine country bus tour so much that we knew we had to do it again, but this year we agreed that we wanted to have more wine and less driving. So, we opted for the half-day tour, which promised a limo-bus and 4 wineries in 4 hours.
First stop, the Wine Country Inn, to have a little hair o’ the dog (see yesterday’s post about staying up to late drinking too much wine), a BLT and some veggie fries. Not for nothing, this Inn is really, really, nice. Someday, when our ship comes in, we may stay there.
Just like last year we picked the bus up in Riverbend Park in Palisade. Our awesome driver Richard greeted us with a big smile, and we were on our way. And that’s when I realized I had left my memory card in my pc back in Denver. Blogger fail. These pictures are all from our trusty iphones.
First up, Colorado Cellars, the oldest winery in Colorado, founded in 1978! They grow their own grapes, keep bees for honey wine if you like that sort of thing, and are family owned and operated. We tasted the Chardonnay, the Pinot Grigio, Cab Sauv, Merlot and Syrah, but the highlight was a taste of one of their library wines, a beautiful 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Next up, Carlson Vineyards We had done our research and knew Carlson had some Governor’s Cup award winners, so we were eager to check it out. They had a tent set up in the backyard under the trees for the tasting, with at least 20 wines on offer, most of them sweet or fruit.
One of us loved the Cougar Run Calico, a bordeaux style red, fruity and full of blackberry. The other favorite was the T-Red – Lemberger. Super dry, with a strong licorice bouquet. Peter Carlson himself gave us a little lecture on the lemberger grape, since it was new to us. Apparently it’s an Eastern European varietal, grown in Washington, Oregon, The Finger Lakes of NY, and, lucky for us, Colorado! Many of our tour buddies were enjoying a little cocktail of peach wine mixed with some sugar and spice to taste like a warm peach cobbler in a cup, as well as cherry n chocolate dessert wine, served with a swipe of chocolate sauce on the edge of the glass.
It was harvest time and the pickers were out in force, but we intervened to taste some sweet grapes right off the vine. Kaylin (sorry if we misspell your name) told us to walk to the top of a hill to get some prime views of the valley below. Thanks!
Next up, Whitewater Hill, Governor’s Cup double-gold and gold medal winners for their 2014 Shiraz, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, respectively. Nancy gave us a nice little overview of the vineyard before our tasting, which did NOT disappoint. The award-winning Shiraz was especially yummy, with that signature spicy flavor and the soft tannins. We also really enjoyed 2014 Ethereal, which was a blend of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Shiraz and Merlot. These were truly some of the best wines we tasted on this tour. Whitewater has a massive vineyard, from which is supplies many of the other wineries in the region, including some of our favorites, like Alfred Eames and Augustina’s.
We rounded out the day at Debeque Canyon Winery. They were prepared for a crowd, with 2 additional temporary tasting tables and a to-die-for chocolate cherry cake fresh-baked to pair with the chocolate-loving red wines. When I mentioned I was saving my taste of Merlot for the chocolate cake, our tasting hostess, with a little glint in her eye, reached under the counter and pulled out her special stash of dark chocolate. What a transformation that was! She then gave us specific instructions for tasting the Pinot Noir…take a bite of chocolate, taste the wine, and finish with a bite of chocolate. This particular pinot noir was rife with the taste of scotch whiskey, very desserty, but not in a sweet way. We found the standouts at the winery were the dry reds…Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv, in addition to the Pinot Noir mentioned.
Filled with wine and chocolate, we waddled back to the bus and to home. We made some great friends on the bus again this year, but have to say we missed Monty, our guide from last year.
Tomorrow we attend the festival! Make no mistake, we’ll be first in line when they open.