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Stoney Mesa opens tasting room

By Dave Buchanan
Colorado's 7th-oldest winery now has a tasting room in the Grand Valley. Stoney Mesa Winery, founded in 1990 and still owned and operated by Ron and Donna Neal, has expanded from its original Cedaredge site to their new tasting room at 221 31.3 Road on Orchard Mesa. A big banner on the side of the building announces the tasting room, which is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, said owner Ron Neal. It's easiest to reach the tasting room off 32 Road by using B or B.5 Road. "I've been moving a lot of gravel lately so there's not too much mud, anymore," said Neal during a recent conversation. He expects it to be a year or more before all the construction is finished. Final plans call for a 50-foot by-60 foot outside patio built with an Italian bistro theme, complete with outdoor kitchen for hosting special events. Stoney Mesa Winery produces wines under the Stoney Mesa Winery and Ptarmigan Vineyards labels. The Stoney Mesa line of red wines includes a cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and merlot along with pinot gris, gewurtztraminer, riesling and a blush. The Ptarmigan Vineyards offerings include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay and two dessert wines, a late-harvest muscat and a merlot port-style wine. Neal said the tasting room will be pouring the Stoney Mesa 2006 riesling and gewurtztraminer and the Ptarmigan 2002 cabernet sauvignon, 2004 merlot and the 2005 pinot gris. The award-winning rieslings, made in a semi-sweet style with 1-1.5 percent residual sugar, are the top sellers, said Neal, who turned over the winemaking responsibilities in 1999 to his son Bret. Bret continues as the winemaker and will run the original Stoney Mesa facilities near Cedaredge. "We sell tons of the rieslings," Ron Neal said. "We started making them because people were asking for them and I'm in the business to sell wine and we were finding those are the kinds of wine people in Colorado and the tourists were drinking." He said he makes about 1,500 cases a year of the rieslings and gewurtztraminer out of total of around 5,000 cases. He has seven acres of vineyards surrounding his Orchard Mesa tasting room, including most of his riesling, to go with the 50 acres of grapes he has in Delta County. "We bought the vineyard five years ago when the owner was looking at retiring and we couldn't take chances on losing those grapes," said Neal. His tasting room can be reached at 434-2015. Stoney Mesa's presence on Orchard Mesa will play well with nearby Whitewater Hill Vineyards at 220 32 Road (Colorado Highway 141). Whitewater Hill, owned by Nancy Janes and John Behr, has been a bit lonely at the top of 32 Road but now the presence of Stoney Mesa's facility will add even more reason to make the drive to Orchard Mesa.