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Spring takes early fling at wineries

By Dave Buchanan
jenne 5.jpg Saturday and part of Sunday were spent traipsing around the sixth annual "Barrel into Spring" wine tasting sponsored by the eight member wineries in the Grand Valley Winery Association. This year the event again has a second two weekends, with the next coming May 17-18. There might still be tickets ($65 each), call Two Rivers Winery at 255-1471. The event usually sells out, it's capped at 380 attendees to keep numbers manageable for the sometimes cramped quarters where winemakers are doling out wine and information. Last year, on what was almost a last-minute whim, the GVWA decided to add a second weekend to appease the long waiting list. Even without much advertising the event still drew close to 100 guests, said Davy Price, who along with husband Bennett owns and operates DeBeque Canyon Winery. "We didn't want to lose those people and decided to have a second weekend," said Davy Price. "And I'm glad we did. This year, we've had a lot of interest in both weekends." The first weekend nearly sold out and it's likely the second will come close, too. Saturday was a bit chilly early on, as an east wind, feeling as if it were blowing right off the snowfields on Grand Mesa, whipped the tents at Carlson's Vineyards. But Sunday was near perfect, with little wind, lots of sun and blossoms everywhere you looked. Except in the orchards. It's been a late spring as far as grape buds are concerned, but that's good from a winemakers standpoint since a late bud break protects the fruit from frost. "This year is going to be huge," promised Doug Phillips of Plum Creek Cellars. "We had a mild winter and as long as don't get a late frost, we're going to harvest a lot of grapes this year." Inside his recently expanded facility, which includes 500-pound white oak doors made from 200-year old lumber, winery worker Paula Butler was using a glass thief to offer samples of a new 2007 cabernet sauvignon that showed marvelously, something you can't always say about wines still in the barrel. The wine, still four months or so from bottling, was bright and fresh with soft tannins and full of blackberry and dark fruits, a lovely wine and one of my two favorites from the weekend. "I'm getting some new barrels and I want to put the cab into that new oak for just a short time, like maybe only a month or so," said winemaker Jenne Baldwin-Eaton. "That will give it some other nuances without overpowering the fruit." This is a cabernet sauvignon to save and serve, and at an estimated $17 a bottle I'll be among the first in line when it's released next fall. The other "Barrel into Spring" participating wineries include Canyon Wind Cellars, Garfield Estates Winery, Grande River Vineyards, Graystone Vineyards and Two Rivers Winery. I'll get to my weekend's other favorite next post. **Plum Creek Cellars winemaker Jenne Baldwin-Eaton conducts a taste test during Saturday's "Barrel into Spring" event.

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