Friday, June 21, 2013

Wonderful Wines in the Wyoming West--Cody, Wyoming

Cody, Wyoming—made famous by Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Rodeo—nestled in the north-western corner of the state, is often overshadowed by the more well-known, and much more posh and expensive, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Cody is on the edge of Yellowstone National Park like Jackson.  However, Cody is also on the edge of becoming the preeminent wine destination of Wyoming.  On my recent trip to and through Cody, I was impressed with the promotion of wine and the wine industry in the quaint and comfortable town.  I was so impressed, in fact, I had to write about it!

Impression number one:  a master sommelier!

Perhaps a driving force behind some of the wonderful wine experiences happening in Cody is Amanda Luther, master sommelier in training.  (And from one sommelier to another, this is INCREDIBLY remarkable!)  In her mid-twenties, Amanda is near the half-way mark of her sommelier studies.  She is doing most of this work through independent study with online and social networking resources, while sipping and evaluating wines almost daily.  Amanda teaches wine classes at Juniper Wine and Spirits (more on that business soon), teaching about anything wine related, whether it be Chardonnays or Greek wines.  (During a recent Greek wine class Amanda paired Greek wine with Greek food…yum!)  As if this isn’t enough, Amanda is working on her MBA through a Colorado university.

Master Sommelier in training, Amanda Luther.  (Photo from the Casper Star Tribune.)

Impression number two:  Juniper Wine and Spirits

Juniper is the absolutely adorable liquor store and gift shop where Amanda spends many of her hard-working hours.  In addition to the wine classes, Juniper has an incredibly well-organized wine and liquor selection.  Every wine has been tasted (Amanda and other staff at work) with tasting notes for customers to use to help guide buying decisions.  Juniper also has a cute tasting bar in back where clientele can sit and sip a taste or a glass of one of the wines on the ever-changing tasting list.  Juniper has plans to expand in the next year because the current space just isn’t big enough for this growing wine-centric business.

The tasting bar at Juniper Wine and Spirits.

Impression number three:  Libations

Libations is an incredibly unique full-service liquor store.  It is has a large wine selection spread out so patrons can easily see what wines are available for purchase.  What makes Libations so one-of-a-kind is in the large wine area are pub tables and three, four-bottle Enomatic wine dispensers just waiting for wine lovers to try one of the twelve wines on tap or buy a bottle to sit and sip in the store.  Wine glasses just happen to be waiting in this serve-yourself establishment.  If sitting inside doesn’t sound appealing during these beautiful summer months, there is a patio area for sitting and relaxing with a drink.  If wine isn’t the preferred libation (wink), there are also multiple daiquiri machines to choose from, or a six pack of beer could be purchased with the same serve-yourself premise. 
Enomatic wine dispensers at Libations.

Impression number four:  Buffalo Jump Wines

Last, but definitely not least, is Buffalo Jump Wines. Winery owners and winemakers—husband and wife Beckie Tilden and Scott Wagner—are producing wines right in Cody.  Though the fruit is sourced from California, the winemaking process continues in Cody.  In fact, when I was in Cody last weekend, Beckie and Scott were just moving into a larger space because within two years they had already outgrown their former facility.  Buffalo Jump has wines ranging from a Sauvignon Blanc, to a Cabernet Sauvignon rose, to a Merlot.  I don’t want to give away too much since I am planning on a full blog about Buffalo Jump.  However, let it suffice to say that even in the middle of a move, Beckie and Scott showed me wonderful hospitality, and I sipped on some of their equally wonderful wines. 
Buffalo Jump Winery's tasting lineup. 

Though Cody may be thought of as the second entrance to Yellowstone, or the “other” town in the north-western corner of Wyoming when compared to Jackson, I see Cody creating its own reputation when it comes to wine.  (I should also add one microbrew is already up and running with an amazing restaurant—Geyser Brewing Company and the Terrace restaurant—with two other microbrews in different stages of planning, so Cody isn’t focusing solely on wine.)  I look forward to going back to Cody again next summer; I truly think that all of these wine-loving businesses will be doing well and continuing to expand.  I want to witness the evolution of Cody as the Wine Capitol of the Wyoming West!