I don’t get why everyone makes such a big deal about wine. Making wine is easy. No, really. Crush some wine grapes, put them in a tub and wait for a while. Grapes have a naturally occurring yeast that does the rest, as long as temperatures are right. Once the alcohol level is good, just filter and drink...probably puke, start bleeding internally then hallucinate for a few days. See, wine. If you live long enough and regain the ability to eat on your own, try it with a little bread and cheese. Yum.
Making wine is easy. Making good wine is very, very difficult. There are wine producers in every state, but very few of them actually make wine that is palatable for experienced wine lovers. In fact, most of them really just make you want to become a beer person. The reason? Well, the main problem is the lack of quality grapes. Yeah, grapes grow all over, but really good wine grapes need love, care and a very specific climate to thrive and achieve the balance and maturity necessary to produce quality wine. California, Oregon and Washington state are the most successful due to warm days, cool nights, long growing seasons, proper moisture and really good dirt. You can't just grab a jar of Smuckers, add yeast and drink. Well, you can, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want diabetes.
Colorado has produced some great sweeter white wines like riesling and viognier over the years but, even though they are planted heavily, has come up short against the west coast when it comes to the more popular Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and others. Colorado grape growers and winemakers have struggled mightily to get noticed for their art and ability. Some have even purchased and blended (gasp) California grapes to try to get a better product. But now, after over 100 years of trying, some of the over 100 winemakers in Colorado are making some noise.
One of these, Ruby Trust Cellars in Castle Rock, yeah, Castle Rock, is one to keep an eye on...or more accurately, one to keep in your glass and on your lips. Founders Ray and Jean Bruening and Winemaker Braden Dodds are striving to make wine the right way. Ruby Trust makes wine solely from Western Slope grapes but doesn’t produce Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay or any other single grape wines. They focus on making wine blends that combine the best qualities from different grapes to make a final product that is unique and balanced.
Ruby Trust puts the art of winemaking into the blend and production, not the viticulture. They select only the grapes they want from quality growers, blending Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc in different percentages and employ precise aging techniques in oak barrels from Missouri, Michigan and a few from France to create their Gunslinger, Fortune Seeker and Smuggler labels. It’s the attention to detail through all elements of the winemaking that overcomes the challenges created by not owning and controlling their own vineyards. And, given a chance to age for a few years, these wines should develop some of the qualities sought after from wines produced in, shall we say, more popular regions of the country.
Formed in 2009 and just now launching their 2011 vintage, Ruby Trust only produces about 400 cases a year right now, and it can be a bit hard to find. But with aspirations to grow to over 750 cases in the near future and Colorado wines becoming more popular, there’s a decent chance you’ll see them in more restaurants and wine stores in your neighborhood. Until then, go find it. Buy three bottles. Drink one now (not in the car on the way home), one in a year or so and the last one in a few years to really taste how these new Colorado wine artists are developing their craft. If you’ve never given Colorado wines a chance (snob), chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised.