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Small winemaker gets big fast

By Dave Buchanan
In a few strokes of the pen, Glenn Foster went from a winemaker without a winery to a winemaker with four (or maybe three-and-a-half) wineries. Foster and his wife Natalie, who have operated the Colorado Wine Room in Fruita for the past two-plus years and do business under the corporate name of Talon Winery LLC, recently purchased the three wineries formerly owned by Fred Strothman of Palisade. Now, the Fosters have St. Kathryn's Cellars, Confre Cellars and Meadery of the Rockies, in addition to a small (very small) winery located in the Wine Room. The new additions to the Foster wine properties are going to present a major change for Foster, who grew up in the Bay Area of California and cut his winemaking teeth at Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma, Cal., which his father W. Reed Foster helped found in 1976. The change will be in the type of wine (or not wine) that comes out of St. Kathryn's, Confre Cellars and the Meadery. Is mead wine? That's a question to spur hours of argument among wine purists, but then so would many of Strothman's other products, particularly his fruit wines and his fruit-and-honey blends. Foster says he plans to continue the mead and fruit-based wines and has been taking some lessons from Strothman on making mead. Whether or not you agree that mead or the fruit blends qualify as "wine," there's no denying one of the most-popular venues at the Colorado Mountain Winefest regularly is the St. Kathryn's booth. "There are so many people who like sweet wines," said Glenn. "He's famous for them. I would walk down the street with him and people would stop and say how much they like his (fruit) wines." One of the top sellers is the pomegranate wine, which Foster says is made from real pomegranate juice and not just a blend of a base white wine with pomegranate concentrate. Evidently, there's only one other winery in the world making a true pomegranate wine and that's the Rimon Winery in Israel. Rimon is Hebrew for pomegranate. "That stuff walks out the door," said Foster, in great part to the health benefits of pomegranate juice, which is loaded with antioxidants. Foster said he and Natalie will continue to run the Colorado Wine Room "with a little more emphasis on the wines we make." Talon Winery currently bottles a viognier, a rosato (a sweet rosé of mostly cabernet franc) and Rock Red, a red table wine blend of merlot and cab franc. In spite of some initial concerns about the task ahead, Foster said he's anxious to get back to having a full-size winery in which to work. "I've been a winemaker without a winery for about three years and I've felt very closed in and very frustrated," he said. "Trying to make wine (in the back room of the Colorado Wine Room) is difficult and I was chomping at the bit to get out (to Palisade)." Foster said he considers the melding of his wine-making talents with the potential of the new wineries "tradition meeting innovation."