We began to visit the Four Corners area every summer when our son was four, he turns twenty-one in June. We loved to hike the beautiful red rock canyons, in search of ancient Anasazi Indian ruins. Our love for the majestic land prompted us to buy a small ranch in Southeastern Utah. Not only did our ranch in Montezuma Canyon feature hundreds of gorgeous fruit trees, but dozens of decades-old grape vines. But, we didn’t know what to do with the grapes, or whether we could plant different varieties as well. That led us on a search for other grape growers and vintners in the area.
The most impressive local vineyard and winery is the Guy Drew Winery in Southwestern Colorado, about 90 minutes from our home. It’s only about 25 minutes from Mesa Verde, a popular state park featuring dozens of beautiful, well preserved Indian ruins. Just five minutes from the Cortez airport, Ruth and Guy Drew have created a beautiful business nestled in lush McElmo Canyon. They bought the property in the late 90’s and have since built a Santa Fe style straw bale winery and home. The region appears to be perfect for growing such grapes as Cabernet Franc, Cabrenet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. The climate and soils provide excellent grape growing conditions despite the danger of late-spring frosts. Intense sunlight at the property’s 5,700′ elevation and growing seasons that are hot and dry with cooler nights than many grape growing areas of Colorado are perfect for the grapes’ color and flavor maturation and eliminate the need to treat the vines for mildew and other pests and diseases common in Colorado.
Once you’ve enjoyed a stroll through the hilly vineyard, you’ll be treated to a wine tasting with either Ruth or Guy or both. They love to share their wines, and tell tales of the regions and the people that live there. The Drew’s produce both Crooked Creek Wines and the more special Guy Drew label. You can expect to pay between $14 and $20 per bottle. I prefer the reds over the whites. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a side trip to stop and say hello to Ruth and Guy.
Appeared in the March 2007 issue Santa Barbara’s Wine & Dine Magazine