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Local wineries boost medal count at competitions

By Dave Buchanan

Every spring, many winemakers eagerly await two things: the season’s last frost and the first news from various wine competitions.

This week we finally may have seen the last of the frost and two Colorado wineries are deservedly boasting of their recent medals.

Talon Winery in Palisade picked up four bronze medals at the 2010 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester, N.Y.

The winning wines were Talon Riesling and Talon Wingspan White along with the St. Kathryn Cellars Peach Passion and Meadery of the Rockies Lancelot.

Winemaker and Talon Winery owner Glenn Foster makes wines under all three labels.

This year’s Finger Lakes competition drew more than 2,900 wines from nearly 670 wineries, according to officials, and was is the first competition to feature wines from all 50 states.

In addition, nine Canadian provinces and 13 other countries were represented.

In a related note, Meadery of the Rockies also earned four medals at the Mazer Cup International 2010 Awards Competition last month in Boulder.

The Blackberry Satin and Lancelot blend wines won silver medals and the Raspberry Chocolate Satin and Guinevere blends both received bronze medals.

Also, The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City was an obvious judge’s favorite at the 23rd Annual Taster’s Guild Wine Competition, where the winery won three gold medals and seven silver medals.

The competition, held in Grand Rapids, Mich., included more than 2,200 wines from 10 countries and 32 states.

The Winery’s gold medal-winning wines included the 2008 Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, the 2008 Colorado Cabernet Franc and the 2008 Monterey Chardonnay.

Silver medal winners were the 2008 Colorado Merlot, 2008 Colorado Merlot Reserve, 2008 Colorado Merlot Divinity, 2007 Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon, Colorado Nouveau, Vineyard Sunset and American Riesling.

The Winery’s 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve was awarded a bronze medal.

If you aren’t familiar with The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, which is on the grounds of the former Benedictine abbey, you can learn more on its Web site,

So what do all these medals mean?

For a winemaker, anything that makes your product stand out, and particularly helps you market your wine and sell more of it for more money, is a great thing.

The organizers of the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition assure entrants that every award-winning wine will be promoted as such.

The Finger Lakes entry form says: “By entering our competition, your wines will receive the exposure that’s important for strong sales and profitability. Award–winning wines are more valuable, and even if you are able to sell your entire inventory, you’ll be able to sell it for more with the FLIWC distinction of quality and excellence.”

If you’re a winemaker, what’s not to like about that?

Some wine buyers might sniff at such open-faced promises, particularly if there are any doubts as to the level of competition against which the wines are being awarded medals.

Winemakers, too, have to be careful they enter competitions that will accurately judge their wines against similar products.

“It’s great to see such vast improvement in the newest wine producing states.”said Tasters Guild President Joe Borrello. “Colorado wines get more awards every year, and The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey has always shown well in our competition.”

By entering these larger and well-known competitions, winemakers can feel comfortable about having well-qualified judges looking at a wide range of wines.

New winery association forms: If you have attended the “Barrel into Spring” wine tasting, you might notice it includes only those eight wineries making up the Grand Valley Winery Association, a marketing/business association.

Now four other wineries in the Grand Valley — Mesa Park Vineyards, Whitewater Hill Vineyards, Ptarmigan Vineyards and Reeder Mesa Vineyards — have formed their own marketing group, the “Mesas Wine Trail.”

The idea is “to position and market our four wineries in this distinct area of the Grand Valley,” said group chairman, Ron Neal, owner of Ptarmigan Vineyards on Orchard Mesa. “Our four wineries provide an excellent, unique wine tasting experience for visitors and locals.”

In addition to the usual business of developing a marketing plan, building a Web site and establishing a presence on Facebook, Neal said the association’s future plans include wine tasting and epicurean events and wine-related seminars later this year.



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