Canyon Wind Cellars closing

Throughout its short history, the Colorado wine industry has maintained one sure trait: It never sits still.

That constant flex and growth makes an observer expect regular changes, but the latest one caught many industry watchers by surprise.

Second-generation winemakers Jay and Jennifer Christianson of Canyon Wind Cellars in Palisade recently announced they will close their 30-year-old winery at the end of December.

In a recent Facebook post, Jennifer wrote the closing is the result of a “desire to pursue exciting new endeavors and follow our dreams.”

So now the second generation is following the steps of the first.

The winery was founded in 1996 when Jay’s father, Norm Christianson, took a similar philosophical turn, leaving his career in geology to become a winemaker in western Colorado. Along with renowned California winemaker Robert Pepi, Norm and Ellen Christianson built the winery at the mouth of De Beque Canyon into an award-winning facility. When the two retired in 2007, Jay took over and quickly expanded on what his parents had begun.

Jennifer joined Jay in 2010 and the younger Christiansons became the first second-generation winemakers in Colorado’s history.

It wasn’t long before the two brought a new vision to Canyon Wind with their popular Anemoi lineup, a selection of specially blended red wines based on Jay and Jennifer’s interest in the “geeky” side of winemaking.

It may be that desire to explore, to push personal and professional boundaries, that led to this latest move, with Jay telling me it was a “decision to pursue a new path.”

This includes traveling the nation’s wine roads with their own wine-consulting business, called Tin Sheets Consulting (

“We (including their official winery canine Finley) will be traveling the country in an Airstream visiting and working with wineries in lesser recognized wine regions,” Jay said in a recent email.

As of now there are no plans to sell or actively pursue a new owner for Canyon Wind Cellars, but that could change, Jay said.

“Should the opportunity present itself, we are willing to head that way, but at this point we are not planning on that outcome,” he said. “At this point, anything is possible.”

The winery will stay open until December or the current stock of wine is exhausted, and Jay is betting the wine runs out before the year ends.

It’s an exciting change, Jay said.

“We all are sad that the winery and vineyard will no longer be a part of our lives, but all of us are also excited for our future endeavors,” he said. “My father and mother are and always have been great supporters of our dreams.”

The winery’s website and Facebook page offer information about the wines available.

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