On the Scene: At VinCO

Melinda Tredway, Cassidee Shull and Paola Legarre

John Tierney, Camille Lane and Kip Lintner

Naomi and Steve Smith, Doug Caskey, front, and Brent and Karen Helleckson

Tyler and Carolee Hawkins

Felix Serrano, Beckett Taylor and Brooke and Brad Webb

Bill Dunn, Brittany Dunn Dietrick and Andrew Dietrick

Thomas and Gwen Cameron


I knew this event existed, but I hadn’t realized how important it was to the agriculturists in Colorado.

VinCO, now 4 years old, is a hybrid of the annual convention of the Western Colorado Horticulture Society and the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology’s annual conference, its 71st to be exact.

It was a beautiful blending of the two organizations and they shared educational opportunities through the seminars, vendors, panels and tours last week at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Speakers came from as far away as Washington and New York states, Pennsylvania, Texas and Delta. Seminar subjects ranged from irrigation and agri-tourism to raising sheep and making beer.

You didn’t have to be a member of either of these groups to attend the convention. I was impressed.

The event started on Jan. 13 and ended three days later with an evening banquet at the convention center. I was at the conference off and on, vending The Daily Sentinel’s “Drink It In: Wine Guide of Western Colorado” and thought the best time to capture everyone at their best was during the happy hour before the banquet.

Tyler and Carolee Hawkins were waiting in line at the open bar, which stocked full of Colorado wine. Tyler works for American Ag Credit. “I work closely with all these people, I’m so proud to be able to support this industry,” he said. I recommended to them what I was drinking, the Cabernet from Avant Vineyards in Palisade.

A couple I pegged for father-daughter got in line for wine. The moment the sharply dressed farmer looking guy told me his name, I immediately knew who he was, Thomas Cameron of Cameron Place Farms, a former CSA (Community Sustainable Agriculture) farm. Tom was there with his daughter, Gwen Cameron. Gwen was visiting from Vermont where she is an assistant editor for Alpinist Magazine.

When I asked Tom how he liked having the two conventions combined, he remarked, “It sure makes for better wine at the host bar.” Agreed.

Melinda Tredway, Cassidee Shull and Paola Legarre were manning the registration booth in the Atrium. Paola has Sage Creations Organic farm and is a board member for the Western Colorado Horticultural Society. Cassidee is the executive director of the Colorado Association of Viticulture and Enology (CAVE), and Melinda is the administrative assistant for CAVE and volunteer coordinator for Winefest. Nice job on the convention ladies!

I noticed the pretty Brittany Dunn Dietrick walk into the banquet room. I tracked her down and got a photo of her with her father Bill Dunn and her husband, Andrew Dietrick. The Dietricks have five acres in Palisade, three of which are in peaches. Bill helps out in the orchard in a “big way,” and his wife, Rema Dunn, was home watching Andrew and Brittany’s babies. Andrew and Bill attended seminars and were grateful for all the great information.

Things were getting a little rowdy in the hallway, and that’s where I found Naomi and Steve Smith from Grande River Vineyards, and Doug Caskey and Brent and Karen Helleckson, owners and winemakers at Stone Cottage Cellars in Paonia.

Caskey, from Boulder, is the executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board and has held that position for 14 years. He spoke at a seminar titled “The Economic Contribution of Colorado Wine.”

The convention had a room full of interesting vendors. There were cases of bugs from the CSU Extension, tractors, irrigation pumps and companies that made boxes, bottles, bushel baskets, barrels and books, like us.

John Tierney was there with All Seasons Rentals showcasing its Hotsy pressure washers. John and his Hotsy Posse — Camille Lane and Kip Lintner — provide all manner of equipment to vintners and farmers.

It was time for dinner and I had to scoot out to a Senior Theater rehearsal, but I first wanted to take a photo of two of the impressive young movers and shakers in the industry, Brooke and Brad Webb.

They were busy yukking it up with Beckett Taylor and Felix Serrano of Godot Communications. Godot is CAVE’s creative partner, and Brooke and Brad are co-owners of Mesa Park Vineyards with Brooke’s parents, Patty and Chuck Price.

The Webbs have a vested interest in the Grand Valley, having cashed out from big city careers in Denver with J.P Morgan and moved to Palisade to raise kids and grapes. Brad is running for the Colorado House in District 54 and is Mesa Park’s farmhand.

When not promoting her wine and Palisade, Brooke is a corporate trainer for Bret Pomrenke at Farmer’s Insurance. Both Brooke and Brad like to work hard to ensure a fruitful future for generations to come. They are a great asset to the valley.

Promoting the wine industry, preserving our farmlands and increasing production seemed to be the theme for VinCO. I’m so thankful I was there,

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■ Vote for the artwork to be used for the 2014 Colorado Winefest commemorative poster at a reception from 5:30–7:30 p.m. Friday at the Blue Pig Gallery, 101 S. Third St., in Palisade. There will be wine and hors d’oeuvres at the reception. Info: winecolorado.org, 464-0111.

■ Enjoy lovely voices and piano accompaniment with Bella Epoque: An Evening of Beautiful Songs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Two Rives Winery and Chateau, 2087 Broadway. The concert will feature soprano Camille Zamora, mezzo Abigail Fischer and pianist Susan Ellinger. Tickets cost $25. Info: gjsymphony.org, 243-6786.

Check out the calendar in Friday’s Out & About for additional entertainment events.


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