Giddy Up Girl!
Colorado has long been known for their stunning bike trails and outdoor adventure activity, celebrity styled ski resorts and haute cuisine. So, it comes as no surprise that the esteemed state has joined the great grape race. The climate and topography alone naturally lend itself to a booming bottle business. It is sure to make this a go to stop on the U.S. wine trail. So, grab your girl for some wine inspired romance. Stay ahead of the cork curve by heading west for some inspired sips this season.
You can acclimate to the high attitude with a full day and night in Denver. Colorado’s capitol city is known as the Mile High city as it sits 5,280 feet above sea level. So, settle in before you set out for some serious sipping on higher ground.
Denver is a very walk-able city with an array of walking tour options from microbrew to gourmet and cultural tours. If you get a high off of hops, there are over 100 microbreweries in town. It’s a great way to get your beer on before the vines take center stage. This sport savvy city knows a thing about the brew and host brew based event through the year.
So, whether you take an official tour or mosey in and out of the local watering holes or simply grab a mug at local brewpubs, you’re sure to get a feel for the local lure and life. So pace yourself as the beer goggles at this altitude go on thicker and quicker than you think. Remember you’re in the Mile High Club.
With a few brews behind you, it’s time to hit the local road. Hit LoDo (Lower Downtown) for an architectural angle as the trendy neighborhood offers an evocative mix of old traditional buildings with a modern twist. It’s filled with hot shops, great restaurants and busy bars.
For you lit wits, the Tattered Cover Book Store is by far one of the best book stores in Colorado and the country. The coffee isn’t the only thing that will have you buzzing in this ambient spot. You will want to bury yourself in books or simply sink in to a yummy sofa and immediately write your memoir.
For an art party, head to the edgy and urban Denver Art Museum where you will see something new every time you visit. For local theatrics, dip in to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts for a bit of Broadway. You’ll think you’re in New York where the Rocky Mountains replace the city skyline. For a couple of yuks, head to Denver’s top comedy club, The Comedy Wworks.
Finally for fashion it’s all about the family run Rockmount. It’s where Elvis, Eric Clapton, Bowie, The Boss, Janis and Jack White have gone to get their threads on. You will too. Two boots and one blouse later and you’ll swear you can carry a tune.
Freshen up at the very sexy Hotel Teatro. The only things that will pull you and your girl out of your rich and sexy room are the appetizers and Colorado cocktails at Kevin Taylor’s Prima restaurant downstairs. His modern take on Italian classics is pleasing to the local palette and to the most discerning of snooty foodies. This AAA Flour Diamond chef has been awarded the Best of Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator among other awards. Start with a mix of Misto, his mouth watering Burrata, the Tomato Basil Pork Meatballs, Tuna Tartare and Beef Carpaccio. The savvy staff will pair seamlessly with wine and or a seasonal Colorado cocktail. It’s a chic retreat.
If you can’t leave home without your pooch, they have a whole concierge service that is canine friendly. Top celebs have been known to overindulge their dogs at Hotel Teatro. You can too.
Then you’re off in to the night to live like a local at Duo in the new hip Highland neighborhood. It has the look and feel of a Pacific Northwest outpost. You’ll swear you’re in Seattle or Portland with the ambiance and the similar approach to their cuisine. Their celebrated farm to table and seasonal menu coupled with that laid back local ambiance will help you better understand why you keep meeting so many city slickers and urban transplants since you landed in town.
At Duo it’s all about the succulent Grilled Sirloin with sweet potato and goat cheese gratin. After an evening of animated conversation and a few local wines as a warm up for what is to come, it’s your final curtain. You’re off for a session of seduction or sweet dreaming at Hotel Teatro. Before you hit the higher rode in the morning, grab breakfast at The Corner Office where they bring new meaning to the breakfast burrito.
Now designate your driver and head to Delta County. It’s Colorado, so the ride is straight out of a storybook. Sit back, relax and flip those pages. The story continues in each winery as each vintner has an interesting tale to tell. In Eckert, slip in to Surface Creek winery’s 80 yr. old stone building and tasting room, which offers Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gewurztraminer. Owner Jim Durr, a jack of too many trades to tell was once a wildlife biologist and natural resource attorney. His commitment to the wildlife is reflected in the wine labels.
Up the road in Paonia, Swiss trained female vintner and co-owner Joan Mathewson creates Alsatian styled wines at Terror Creek winery, where a Frenchman planted the first vines at the turn of the century. Enjoy Joan’s lush and storied life abroad and her many travels around the world while sipping on Chalet nv, a beautiful Swiss style 25 percent Pinot Noir and 75 percent Gamay Noir or simply sip and swirl her Pinot Noir or Dry Riesling while you plan your next trip or wine inspired adventure.
Then it’s off to Smith Fork Ranch, the perfect mountain hideaway in Crawford Colorado. Linda and Marley Hodgin, true blue New Yorkers and advocates of the area and the Colorado wineries, especially those locally in Crawford. They just may host a local winemaker’s dinner as they did for our grape loving group. Andrew Harper has called touted Smith Fork as one of America’s top seven hideaways while Abercrombie and Kent have stated it is one of the top nine Premier Ranches and resorts in America. We’d have to agree.
The design and aesthetics of the ranch is Rocky Mountain rich and rustic with a flawless finish. It’s no wonder as the charming Marley, once the majority owner of Tommy Hilfiger fashion knows a thing or two about fashion and design.
The cuisine is reflective of the abundant meat, game and fish in the Western Colorado region. Smith Fork celebrates the local wines yet offers over 250 top wines from across the country and around the world. If you need a few days for romance and or to reflect on the local wines, you can hit the horse or hiking trails, fly fish on site, a ranch favorite or flex those photography muscles as every angle is picturesque.
Once en route to Grand Valley, pack a romantic picnic lunch filled with award winning Carlson wines and head to Grand Mesa. The Laughing Cat Riesling is just the picnic ticket. Next up it’s the esteemed Palisades wine region. Pick up a bike at Rapid Creek Bicycles and wind your way around the vines. The Colorado backdrop is a stunner.
Canyon Wind has an excellent tasting room where the girls really know their stuff. They have a large portfolio of wines as the Cellars bench is filled with sand, cobblestones and a rich mineral soil. Coupled with the cool mountain breeze and the altitude, it makes for a unique and complex wine.
Finish off the day at Garfield Estates up the road. They have a gorgeous portfolio of estate grown wines that will seduce any aficionado. Of special note is the Viognier, The Lagnaippe Blanc, Rose, Cab Franc, Syrah and the crowd pleasing, Vin de Chocolat, a Chocolat infused Port Wine, which in a word is divine. You’ll be brought to your travel knees.
Settle in to Los Altos B&B in Grand Junction for a room with a view and then head to Il Bistro Italiano for a family styled dinner paired with an array of wines from Plum Creek Cellars. Before you clink your last glass and enjoy your last cork and fork, savour the sites at the Colorado National Monument, the most intoxicating experience of the trip. Then it’s hip vintage shopping in Grand Junction so you can dress to impress.
Now it’s time to toast your good fortune, wine and fashion finds at Balistreri Vineyards. The small family owned vineyard pumps out quite a business and has many a medal as well. Check their schedule in advance as you should meet and mingle with the father daughter team as they host several wine events throughout the year.
Mid-mingle indulge in their decadent reds. A true blue red head at heart, I adored their Cab Francs, Petite Sirahs and the Late Harvest Merlot, which was rich and interesting, not to heavy or sweet and with a flawless velvety smooth finish.
As you reflect back on the glasses past, you will once again remember why you love wine so much as each vintner has a story as rich, complex and as layered as the wines they pour. Cheers!
CORKS: TerrorCreekWinery.com, SurfaceCreek.com, CarlsonVineyards.com, CanyonWindCellars.com, PlumCreekWinery.com, GarfieldEstates.com, Balistreriwine.com
FORKS: Duo – www.DuoDenver.com, The Corner Office – www.TheCornerOfficeDenver.com
SLEEPS: Hotel Teatro - www.HotelTeatro.com
CITY: For more information on Denver go to: www.Denver.org
STATE: For more info on Colorado, its wines and what the state has to offer go to: www.Colorado.com
Blogger Bio: Karen Loftus is a Multi Media Maven. She's an International Comedian, Writer, Travel & Lifestyle Editor and Globetrotting Photographer covering the good life on The Global Road. After globetrotting through The Middle East, Europe and Asia, entertaining Expats, execs, the US troops abroad and theater savvy audiences around the globe at international theaters and comedy festivals, award winning playwright and international comedian Loftus took a break from touring, slipping in to journalism, putting on the page what she once delivered onstage. As a journalist, Loftus found her definitive niche in travel writing, covering the luxury lifestyle and vino trends in travel and culinary and cocktail tourism. It was a coming home as her Irish grandparents ran a speakeasy, distilled their own spirits and ran many a famous pub. This fashion forward foodie takes great risks and goes to extreme journalistic measures on the global road, parasailing, surfing, bungee jumping, four tracking and canyoning in search of the story. Today Karen's vibrant tales can be seen in 40 different regional, national and international magazines, newspapers and websites. In between her travels Karen still flexes her funny bone and will take up touring again in 2011. Her passion project Body Comedy where she uses humor to heal is hitting the Global Road. Karen’s worked with several thousand people over the years, from prisoners to teen prostitutes and women and children who have experienced abuse on the body. She’s been featured in several documentaries, MS Magazine & MSNBC. Comedy Central has been a supporter of the US program for seven years. Karen’s is taking her Body Comedy program and heading to Kenya in November to work with orphans and young entrepreneurial woman. A TV show is in development based on The Body Comedy Project. Stay tuned. For more info: www.karenloftus.net You can follow Karen on Twitter @LAKArenLoftus