olorado is a four-season destination offering world-class adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and renowned ski resort areas. The state’s breathtaking natural landscape boasts natural hot springs, hundreds of lakes and rivers, 10 national parks and monuments, and 54 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet.
It is no secret Colorado is also one of the top craft beer-producing states in the nation with 160 breweries and counting; award-winning craft distilleries are popping up across the state; and unique wines have been emerging from Colorado’s wine regions for years. While Colorado is known for its après adventure libations, many don’t realize the secret ingredients are local ingredients from Colorado farms and often times from the beverage producers’ own farms and gardens. Below is a sampling of some of Colorado’s top distilleries, breweries and wineries offering seed-to-table beverages, most with tasting rooms and tours.
Deerhammer Distilling Company in Buena Vista is an award winning micro-distillery specializing in premium small batch whiskey. Deerhammer sources their grain from the nearby San Luis Valley, their Buena Vista Brandy is made in partnership from grapes grown on Colorado’s Western Slope and the barrel aged spiced apple liqueur to be released this fall was made from 900 pounds of hand cut apples from Cedaredge. They also work with some of the smaller farmers in the Buena Vista area to trade spent grain as animal feed for various cocktail ingredients such as mint, pickled green beans, beets and bacon.
Peach Street Distillers in Palisade was named the American Distilling Institute’s 2012 “Distillery of The Year” and utilizes local corn, juniper berries and a variety of fruit from a stone’s throw away from their distillery. Last year they utilized over 90,000 pounds of over-ripened Palisade Peaches and over 60,000 pounds of over-ripened Palisade Pears. Peach Street also just acquired a farm to begin growing their own produce to be used in their spirits.
Peak Spirits Farm Distillery at the USDA-certified organic and Demeter-certified Biodynamic Jack Rabbit Hill Farm creates handcrafted CapRock Gin, Vodka and Brandies as well as Jack Rabbit Hill wines. Each product is made with certified organic fruit grown at Jack Rabbit Hill and nearby Gunnison River Farms and Ela Family Farms, and cut back with naturally pure, soft water from the CapRock formation on Grand Mesa. Peak Spirits is the recipient of several national awards including a James Beard Foundation Nomination for Outstanding Beer Wine & Spirits Professional and Good Food Awards for both CapRock Gin and Vodka.
Spring44 Distilling in Loveland utilizes Colorado water from their own artesian spring well in their spirits. Spring44’s Honey Vodka includes Colorado honey and its Old Tom Gin includes locally grown rosemary and coriander. The distillery is also currently developing bourbon utilizing local grains.
The new Woody Creek Distillers in Basalt grow their own alpine potatoes at Scanlan Family Farm in Woody Creek for their potato vodkas completely grown, distilled and bottled in the Roaring Fork Valley. They will also release three specialty spirits including Gin, Apple Brandy and Pear Eau de Vie utilizing pears and apples from local farms, Colorado rye and wheat, mountain spring water and Colorado-sourced barley malted by Coors.
Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins is committed to serving the communities in which they distribute by sourcing local raw materials. Their Amuste Imperial Porter utilizes Tempranillo grapes from Colorado’s Western Slope; Tree Shaker Imperial IPA includes 3,000 pounds of Colorado peaches from Big B’s/Delicious Orchards in Paonia; FRIEK includes cherries and raspberries from Colorado’s Western Slope and Front Range and Mountain Standard Double Black IPA features hops hand-picked by Odell’s brewers from farms along Colorado’s Western Slope.
Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont is a funky little brewpub that started the craft-beer-in-a-can craze ten years ago with Dale’s Pale Ale. Oskar Blues has their own Hops & Heifers Farm that houses a two-acre hop field in addition to growing their own vegetables, Black Angus Cattle and Berkshire Pigs to supply their restaurants. They also use spent grain from the brewing process to supplement feed for the animals, and they host beer dinners at their farm.
Durango’s Ska Brewing Company’s signature True Blonde and True Blonde Dubbel include local honey from Durango’s own Honeyville. They also brew Hoperation Ivy, a wet-hop IPA that coincides with the Colorado hop harvest each August. Hoperation Ivy is made entirely with ingredients sourced in Colorado including organic hops from Leroux Creek Farms in Hotchkiss, and malt from the Colorado Malting Co. in Alamosa.
Twisted Pine Brewing Company in Boulder utilizes local resources as often as possible. Last year, Twisted Pine started the Farm to Foam series, in which they only use ingredients sourced in state. The initial beer in the series, Roots Revival, introduced carrots grown just north of Boulder into an American-style Pale Ale. The latest offering from the series is the Cucumber Cream Ale utilizing Crystal hops from Olathe and fresh English cucumbers from the nearby 2 R’s Farm in Platteville.
Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver is Colorado’s first brewpub celebrating its 25th year of pioneering, small-batch liquid art. Their latest small-batch canned good is Belgorado, a Belgian-style IPA made with Colorado-grown malts and hops. The malted barley is grown and malted by Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa. The whole-leaf and pelletized hops come from Misty Mountain Hop Farm in Olathe.
Augustina’s Winery in Boulder is a one-woman operation creating novel and unexpected blends from unusual grapes sourced from Colorado farms. The Venus de Vino Table Wine is made from Boulder’s Leistikow Farms Marechal Foch grapes. Augustina’s Winery makes sure that each and every bottle has its own personality and purpose including wines that go with backpacking adventures, mystery novels and gingersnaps.
Canyon Wind Cellars in Palisade is a family-owned, estate winery that does everything on-property from grape growing through winemaking and bottling. The award-winning, signature wines utilize sustainable and low-intervention winemaking practices including a computer controlled drip watering system, a complete weather and soil moisture monitoring system and no use of herbicides.
Sutcliffe Vineyards is 12 acres of Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Petit Verdot nestled at the foot of the Sleeping Ute Mountain in Southwestern Colorado. The estate and 22 sustainably and responsibly farmed acres are overseen by three farmers who meticulously farm, harvest and vinify. Eschewing the adding of tannins, color enhancers or acid, they allow the wines to reflect the grapes.
Terror Creek Winery in Paonia is reputedly the highest commercially operating vineyard and winery in the Northern Hemisphere, and cultivates some of the original grapes planted on the Western Slope from the Four Corners Research Project in the mid-1970s. Winery owner, Joan Mathewson trained in winemaking in Switzerland and uses many of the traditional central European methods for trellising and training her vines.
The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City began as an extension of the next-door Benedictine Abbey, and exists independently today. Not only do they buy some of their fruit from the nearby state penitentiary’s vineyard and orchard management rehab program, but they also created Wild Canyon Harvest from the grapes picked by area residents from vines in their backyards and growing wild. South Central Colorado was a huge grape growing and winemaking region at the end of the 19th Century and now many of those original vines are still growing in backyards and open space.
For more information on Colorado, or for a free copy of the Official State Vacation Guide, please visit www.COLORADO.com. For more info on farmers’ markets, roadside stands, u-picks, wineries and other Colorado agritourism activities visit the 2013 Colorado Farm Fresh Directory at www.coloradoagriculture.com/farmfresh.
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