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Palisade vineyard overview: Maison Vie La Belle

The heart of Colorado’s wine country features myriad personalities. There are farmers, retirees, outdoor enthusiasts and at least one colorful Frenchman.

John Barbier is nothing without his heritage. Speaking with a heavy accent, he talks food, wine, life and more at the drop of a hat. He also happens to be a Palisade winemaker, producing estate wines under his label, Maison La Belle Vie.

The name of his winery meaning "the house of beautiful life," his wines are Old World, featuring a simple list of a Rose, Merlot, Syrah, a red blend and some interesting French-style walnut liqueurs—all are non vintages at this point. Barbier likes to blend what he thinks is best, even if it means crossing over a year or two of grapes.

That said, watch for his 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon to become his first varietal attached to a year. “It’s going to be killer,” he says.

Barbier is also trying to get a Pinot Noir clone to take root, a task that has proved difficult in most of the Grand Valley AVA. “I want to see for myself,” he says.

Barbier was born in the Loire Valley of France, which produces some of the best Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the world. Winemaking for hobby was in the family blood, so it made sense that he would try his hand at it professionally.

While his 300-case, estate operation is decidedly small for now, Barbier has bigger plans for the vineyard. He is in the process of gutting and renovating space in his winery to turn it into a French café, with a reserve tasting and cigar room a possibility.

Whatever it ends up looking like, it’ll be French. Think wine, stinky cheeses, baguettes and Barbier.

“I’m going to make some noise,” he says. “But be as friendly as possible.”

There’s reason to believe the café/tasting room idea will take root; Barbier owns a successful French restaurant and wine bar in the historic Grand Junction downtown called Le Rouge.

It’s actually the best place to taste his wine for now in the absence of a proper on-site.

Best wine from the winemaker’s perspective: N/V Syrah made from 2006 and 2007 grapes.

Prices: Between $20-$25

Tasting room:
By appointment only
Full tasting room and café expected to open in spring/summer
3575 G Road, Palisade, 970.464.4959

-or-

Le Rouge
317 Main Street, Grand Junction, 970.257.1777

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