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Wine book author hits local wineries

By Dave Buchanan

Paula Mitchell, whose most-recent book, “Exploring Colorado Wineries — Guidebook & Journal,” is now available, will be in the Grand Valley this week to reinforce friendships with some of Colorado’s long-established wineries. Unfortunately, Mitchell’s whirlwind schedule doesn’t allow for a formal book-signing on this go-around, but a future signing (Colorado Mountain Winefest, perhaps?) could happen if her series of hour-long visits to local winemakers generates enough interest among readers.

Her visit to the Western Slope, where 23 wineries call home and more than 80 percent of Colorado’s wine grapes are grown, is timely, coming right after the popular Barrel into Spring wine tasting and less than two weeks before Colorado Wine Week, officially designated this year as June 3–9 by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

I hope to run into Mitchell Wednesday morning at Canyon Wind Cellars, where owners/winemakers Jay and Jennifer Christianson have forged a bright future for the winery founded and nurtured by Jay’s father and mother, Norm and Ellen Christianson. As for Mitchell, seeing some of the local wineries close-up and meeting the winemakers is an adventure in itself.

“I’m really looking forward to getting over there and seeing some of the wineries,” said Mitchell late last week during a brief phone conversatiuon. Among her appointed rounds she listed DeBeque Canyon Cellars, Plum Creek Cellars, Carlson’s Vineyards and others.

You can follow her trip – she'll will be blogging about her insights and discoveries, click on “Exploring with Paula.”

Her 265-page book discusses 125 Colorado wineries spread across six wine-producing regions, offering insights, directions and a bit of history for each winery, along with a list of wines and contact information. There also is an overview of the grape varietals grown in Colorado and a list of wine terminology. As a disclaimer, I was among those who wrote a review and endorsement for Mitchell’s book, which I found highly readable, entertaining and informative.

She admits she hasn’t visited in person all 125 wineries, but this summer her task (it’s tough, I know, but someone has to do it) is to fill in the blanks. However, she’s ready to move fast – she's already found the list of wineries continues to grow almost faster than anyone can keep up.

“My book had just been published and I heard from a gentlemen who said he’s opening a new winery,” Mitchell said. “It’s amazing how many people fall in love with winemaking.”

For now her book is available only as an e-book online but hopefully that will change, if some of the local tasting rooms decide to carry “Exploring Colorado Wineries — Guidebook & Journal” (Summit Mesa Publishing, $23.95).

Update (Wednesday) – You should be able to find copies of Paul's at selected wineries around the Grand Valley. 

Celebrate Colorado Wine Week, June 3–9 – While those of us on the left side of the Divide are familiar with the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest each fall in Palisade, the Front Range still is getting to know Colorado Urban Winefest. Now in its second year, Colorado Urban Winefest on June 9 has moved to Sculpture Park in front of the Denver Performing Arts Complex along Speer Boulevard.

The locale (think Auraria, LoDo, Coors Field) is easy enough to access from Interstate 25 and offers loads of parking (no, it’s not free, so don’t ask). Featuring more than 40 Colorado wineries, free educational seminars, food trucks, art, music and a whole lot more, the festival is the culmination of a week’s worth of special dinners events and receptions happening from Boulder to Centennial.

UPDATE (Wednesday) – According to Winefest officials, discounts on rooms are available during the Urban Winefest from sponsoring hotels, including the Hyatt Regency Denver and the Best Western in Lakewood. Rooms at the Hyatt Regency are limited but there are plenty of rooms at the Best Western, which is the sister motel to the Wikne Country Inn at Palisade. Early reservations are requested. If you stay at the Best Western, you can avoid parking hassles and take a 15-minute Light Rail ride to downtown and the Urban Winefest.

The week offers non-Front Range regulars several opportunities to partake in that area’s fast-growing farm-to-table eating/drinking movement making the best of Colorado’s diverse agricultural riches. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to taste some new wines and meet some winemakers who that might not make it to the Palisade festival.

Information here.


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