I recently had the chance to check out a Winery in Denver, Colorado. You heard it right, kids! This IPA beer gal found herself smack dab in the middle of a winery.
I won’t lie to you, when my vacation hosts picked us up from the airport, I was less than enthused about their choice of lunch venue. I made myself a promise, however, on this most recent trip. No matter what, I would go with the flow and be open minded. Not my typical type A travel style but hey, why not!
We arrived to Balistreri Vineyards before it opened and therefore were one of the first groups seated in the small front room of the winery. We were greeted by a friendly staff and offered menus. Everything on the menu looked delicious. Again, I have never been in a winery before and outside of cheese and crackers, I had no idea what to expect.
After taking an eternity to pick out what to eat, I chose the Shredded Chicken sandwich, along with sharing the Antipasta for Two. After ordering we went up to the bar for my very first wine tasting. Again, I was a winery virgin, so I had no idea what to expect. There were small bread sticks, empty ceramic containers, and a tasting menu. I started looking through the menu to decide what I should taste… that was until I found out you taste all EIGHTEEN wines on the menu. Open mind. Open mind. Keep an open mind.
I don’t love wine and I’m not a huge fan of getting “tipsy” but I was committed to a laid back trip where I wasn’t in the driver’s seat for once. We started with the whites. To no surprise to this IPA lover, these sweet whites were not my favorite wines. Out of the 2016 Riesling, 2016 Chardonnay and the 2016 Orange Muscat, I favored the Orange Muscat. This was in disagreement with my three tasting partners. What can I say, it was a little less sweet and a little more bitter than the former options.
We followed up the whites with three reds, a 2016 Zinfandel, 2010 Merlot, and 2015 Tempranillo. To be honest, I didn’t care for any of these. Wine people- just a reminder, I’m not a wine person so please don’t be offended yet!
Our lunch started coming out so we headed back to our table. The sandwich was the most random assortment of chicken, cranberry, kaleslaw, cheese, and pickles. I’m no food connoisseur but the sandwich was absolutely delicious. What I may of enjoyed more, however, was the Parmesan, Manchego, Ricotta, and Brie cheese’s that came with the Antipasto. It brought me back to my days in Slovenia sitting around the dinner table with my Great Aunt Ana and cousins. Some of the best memories of my life.
After we finished our delicious meal, we headed back to the bar where things began to get more interesting. We would try not just the 12 remaining reds on the tasting menu, but also 3 specials that they had. These 15 samples included Syrah’s, Cabernet Franc’s, Cabernet Sauvignon’s, Cherry’s, a Petite Sirah, a Merlot, a Zinfandel, and a Port. Can I just say before this day, I only knew of three red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a red blend. I didn’t even know Zinfandel’s came in reds!
But hold on to your horses kids. Here’s where things take a turn. I found not one, not two, but three wines for this IPA gal.
In third place is a 2016 Colorado Syrah. This was the first Syrah from Colorado Vineyard Specialists. It wasn’t too sweet and had an enjoyable aftertaste.
In second place was one of the day’s specials, a 2014 Colorado Syrah from Horse Mountain. It went down easy and was delicious. It should be for $112 a bottle. It’s quite possible my issu e with wine has something to do with being $7.99 drug store wine.
In first place was a 2015 Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon from Avant Vineyard. I enjoyed it so much, I almost bought a bottle but decided to stick to Colorado IPA’s for the remainder of the weekend. Don’t worry, I didn’t walk away empty handed. I bought this handy little cheese cleaver to cut my artisan cheese’s at home!
We finished the event by a tour of the winery that began in 1998, which included a beautiful event room and the barrel room in the basement. My favorite part of the tour was learning about where the barrel’s come from. There were barrel’s from Columbia, Australia, a whiskey distillery in Colorado, as well as many other places in the US and around the world.
A few facts about Balistreri Vinyards:
- 98% of their grapes are sourced from vineyards in Colorado. The other 2% are from a relatives vineyard.
- All grapes are handpicked
- They opened in 1998 in a somewhat peculiar industrial area. The reason for that is because the property had been in their family for decades prior to using it as a winery.
- All 80,000 bottles a year are hand corked. At about 3 seconds per bottle, this is actually faster than automated at about 8 seconds. This is also to be able to keep track of which bottles are from which barrels of wine.
- There are no added sulfite’s in their wines unlike most wines found in typical grocery stores.
- The top their wine bottles with white wax. This wax drips directly above the left side of the front label.
So the final verdict? If you are in Denver and have some a couple hours, check this place out. Whether or not you enjoy wine, it’s an enjoyable experience!
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