Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Patience is a Virtue--Canyon Wind Cellars

What does it take to make wine?  In June, I learned that passion is a must for leaping into the wine business.  However, often passion alone is not enough for the labor of love that is making wine.  Last month, I learned that patience is the next virtue required to make, what I believe to be, the juice of the gods.  The value of patience has been seen first and foremost in the success of Colorado Grand Valley winery Canyon Wind Cellars. 
Your Sweet Sommelier with Canyon Wind's vines.

            Nestled under the Grand Mesa (the largest flat-topped mountain in the world), Canyon Wind’s location is an example of patience in, and of, itself.  Norman Christianson, original enologist and vintner at Canyon Wind, was a geologist by trade.  He searched the Grand Valley area for what he believed to be the perfect spot for a vineyard:  a place with good soil and good weather for grape growing.  After finding his perfect spot, Norman planted his first vines in 1991…and then waited!  He waited five years, in fact, for the grapes to be of the quality he wanted to make his first vintage of wine.  He could have bought other fruit from other areas, but he wanted his product to be a true expression of his terroir and work.  Now that is patience! 
The vineyards at Canyon Wind Cellars.

 Neslted under the Grand Mesa, Canyon Wind's grapes grow well.
Grapes growing on the vines planted in 1991.

            Another example of how serious Norman was about his final product was he had the patience and practicality to hire a Napa Valley wine consultant, Robert Pepi, to ensure quality wine.  The two produced Canyon Wind’s first vintage in 1996, and CWC has been considered one of the Grand Valley AVA’s most important wineries ever since.  Today, Norman’s son Jay and his wife Jennifer run the the winery.  Wines are made from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Syrah.  Whites, roses, reds, and dessert wines are produced.  Reds are aged in the underground cellar (the only true underground cellar in the Grand Valley); the cellar and the rest of the facility are open for staff members to take visitors on regular tours.  In addition to the Canyon Wind Cellars line of wines, the winery also produces the 47-Ten series of wines, named for the altitude of the vineyards where the grapes are grown.   The top-shelf line of wines is the Anemoi series, all named for Greek gods.  Canyon Wind also boasts Colorado’s very first wine to be high quality enough to sell for one hundred dollars! The wine IV (Four, as in four of the traditional Bordeaux blend grapes) has consistently been considered Colorado’s best wine.  And yes, I came home with a bottle of IV to cellar. 
 The underground barrel room.

The 2012 vintage of IV, patiently awaiting bottling.
            I patiently tasted through the impressive lineup of wines and purchased my favorites…yes, there were multiple!  The 47-Ten Rose is what a good rose is supposed to be; made from 100 percent Merlot grapes, it is crisp with a grapefruit finish.  The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are both excellent examples of the grapes.  The aforementioned IV is already in my cellar to store for a few years, as well as the Anemoi Notus.  Both of these wines are going to be amazing in the future, when I finally decide to quit testing my patience and drink them. 

            Napoleon Hill stated, “Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.  That is exactly what Norman Christianson started with and his son and daughter-in-law, Jay and Jennifer, continue as they make fine wines in the Grand Valley of Colorado.  The patience and painstaking work put into each bottle of wine is evident in every sip of Canyon Wind Cellars vino.  Canyon Wind continues to patiently set the bar high for Colorado wine country wines.