Winter Park Winery finishes its summer bottling
September 19, 2008
Riesling, Chardonnay, Grateful Red and Summer’s Blends. Hundreds of emerald bottles passed through the skilled hands at Winter Park Winery last week as the business finished bottling the last of its summer wines.
The scene was something to behold. In fact, the public was welcome to watch the process.
Vintner Jon Brickner, his “main man” Robin Tolleff, and a crew of retired Coors workers who are friends of father-in-law Bob Peterson bottled 400 gallons Tuesday and Wednesday. For what ended up being a total of 15 hours, each manned a station for filling, corking, drying, labeling, boxing and just plain having a good time.
Brickner, who is going into his fifth year at the winery, estimates he bottles four times a year.
He is happy with his small-time, big-hearted operation.
“I really don’t want it to grow much more,” he said.
The two growers who provide his grapes are from vineyards in Mendocino, Calif. and in Palisade. The last summer shipment of grapes (for Syrah, merlot and his best seller, the cabernet Sauvignon) is set to arrive next week from Mendocino.
He uses the Mendocino grapes because they are “really good, yet still affordable.”
The grapes he gets from Palisade are the best Colorado grapes, he said.
Brickner likes to blend the two for a perfect match. About 15 tons of the vine-ripened fruits are delivered, crushed, fermented and aged about 18 months in oak barrels located on site.
The Summer’s Blend was a new blend made from cabernet zinfandel and merlot grapes from 2005 with lots of berry flavors and “smooth tanns.”
Three weeks ago, he bottled a new Winter Blend (his favorite so far), a 50/50 blend of cabernet and merlot, and Brickner also hopes to bottle what he’ll call Symphony, with a hybrid from Muscat.
“I just like doing it,” Brickner said about the business, adding that he first learned about how to make wine from his parents and their wine-making friends. “People like the feel of the tasting room and have fun with it.
“The labels are really cool and the wine tastes good. I think that’s why I’m growing.”
Winter Park Winery is known for its unfiltered, dry red and white wines. Each vintage and flavor has the company’s signature smooth quality. Wife and graphic artist Cassidi adds creative elegance to the product with custom labels.
Tastings are $5 by the glass and mix and match cases are 10 percent off. There’s also a convenient membership program in which green members receive two bottles a month, blues get four bottles, a black membership gets six bottles a month. The double diamond club gets a case (shipping in October is 10 percent off).
A great time to come by is on Thursday when the winery supports the local live music scene through free open mic nights (around 8:30 p.m., year-round). The company also has tasting room events, catered parties and appropriate wine-party gifts.