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Holidays offer open houses and winery tours

By Dave Buchanan

Looking out the kitchen window, I realize the weather outside really is frightful.

Which must mean it’s time to find that special bottle of wine for the holidays.

Since there is no such thing as the “perfect wine for Thanksgiving,” my meager advice is to find something you like to drink and enjoy your holiday.

If you’re having a quiet family dinner, pick something special you enjoy drinking and share it with a loved one or two.

If you’re having a not-so-quiet family get-together, pick something in a box that you like to drink, since no one else is paying attention, anyway.

And if you’re headed to a holiday potluck, pick something you like that’s really affordable because most guests won’t bother bringing wine but will happily drink yours.

Then, this weekend, when it’s all settled down and you’re dealing with leftovers (both food and family), that special bottle will be even more so.

But if you really can’t think of a wine to bring, Mike Charlton at Planet Wines (420 Main St., 424-5432) suggests Rieslings (Colorado makes some great Rieslings), Pinot Noir (I’d go with something from Oregon or New Zealand, although the North Fork Valley has some delicious pinot noirs), Gewürztraminer (these can be sweet, semi-sweet or dry, such as the dry Gewürztraminer from Carlson Vineyards), Zinfandel (California makes the best) and a Port or dessert wine (take your pick on these).

The holidays also bring open houses and special deals on Colorado wines.

Parker Carlson will host his 19th annual Carlson Vineyards’ Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the winery, 461 35 Road, on East Orchard Mesa.

Carlson, who recdently finished bottling his latest vintage of Fat Cat Muscat dessert wine and his Merlot, is offering 10 percent off all bottles and 15 percent off case prices, which translates to, umm, almost two bottles free with each case purchased.

No, you can’t ask for the free bottles first.

If you’re stocking up for the holidays, it makes sense to buy now.

“You can always tell the people who plan ahead,” said marketing pro Amy Nuernberg, who originally pointed out the sensibility in saving money on a case of wine. “They’re the ones buying the case now to have on hand during the holidays.”

Eames Peterson of Alfred Eames Cellars in Paonia will host his annual open house and holiday barrel tasting from noon to 5 p.m. on Dec. 4–5.

Also scheduled appear are the well-received Madrigal Choir and cheesemakers Joe and Corrine Coniglio of Roubideau Farm.

Alfred Eames’ wines are unfiltered, which means they have nuances and flavors often lost when wine is squeezed through a microfilter.

Samples of the latest vintages will be available along with barrel samples of the 2009 vintage, including the excellent Pinot Noir, Syrah and his Sangre de Sol blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

If you’ve never tasted wine from the barrel, there’s some interesting education ahead of you.

Wine changes quite a bit from the first crush to the final cork, and getting a taste of wines still six months or more away from release is great way to develop your knowledge of how wines mature.

Information and directions to the winery at 970-527-3269 or on the website.

Also on Dec. 4–5 is the annual Wine, Buffalo and Chocolate Holiday Trail near Hotchkiss.

The tour offers ample opportunities to taste North Fork Valley wines and handmade chocolates, starting at Leroux Creek Vineyards, 12388 3100 Road, and Liliputian Winery, 31424 Colorado Highway 92 (next to Hardin’s Natural Foods).

You also can visit the elk and buffalo at the High Wire Ranch, 27497 Buffalo Road (off 3100 Road, which is Leroux Creek Road, on Rogers Mesa).

Ranch owners Dave and Sue Whittlesey will offer samples of their elk and buffalo meat and sausage as well as chocolates from Droste Chocolates in Eckert and wine samples from S. Rhodes Winery.

Hours for the tour are 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Information and directions for the tour are available at 970-872-3019.

Denver Winefest postponed — The Denver version of Colorado Mountain Winefest, initially scheduled for June 2011, has been postponed until 2012.

“We were excited to get the Denver Winefest event off the ground in 2011, but due to the current economic climate, we’ve decided to postpone the event for another year,” said Sarah Catlin, executive director for Colorado Mountain Winefest. “In the meantime, we are concentrating on the 20th annual Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade, and it is expected to be spectacular.”

The 2011 Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade is scheduled for Sept. 15–18.

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