Guy Drew Vineyards

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

Martha’s Articles

Did You Know They Made Wine In…
Utah (Yes, Utah)

I first visited Utah in 1977 when it was next to impossible to buy a bottle of wine…or a drink in a restaurant. If you wanted a gin and tonic with dinner, you had to order a set-up and then purchase a mini bottle from a small “liquor closet” that was run by the State
Alcohol Board. A bottle of wine, same thing. And, if you wanted to buy any alcohol outside of a restaurant (with the exception beer, which was available at the supermarket) you had to buy it from the state-run liquor store. Of course the hours were limited, as was the selection.

So I was totally floored when I discovered many years later that Utah has come into the 21st century and now boasts a number of wineries. And, as the years have progressed, it’s a little easier to buy alcohol. Moab, in Southeastern Utah, is a trendy town boasting some of the world’s best hiking and river rafting. And, it has one of the finest selections of wine I’ve seen outside of California in its state-run liquor store.

Just 15 miles northeast of Moab along a windy road that shadows the Colorado River you’ll find a beautiful winery called Castle Creek. Open since 2002, the winery, built next to the elegant dude ranch Red Cliffs Lodge, is surrounded with magnificent red rock canyons. It now produces more than 15,000 gallons of wine. In April 2006, Red Cliffs Lodge planted its first Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon vines. The grapes will be ready for picking in 2008, but the vines already add even more beauty to the property. Castle Creek currently offers three whites (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Lily Rose White) and four reds (Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Outlaw Red.) The grapes are purchased from nearby grape growers.

So how’s the wine, you might ask? Well, it turns out that Castle Creek Winery has earned four awards from the first two competitions they’ve entered: a Silver for its ’03 Outlaw Red, a Bronze for its ’05 Chardonnay and a Bronze for its ’05 Cabernet at the Finger Lakes International Competition in Rochester, New York. Their ’05 Merlot took the Bronze at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition in San Bernardino, California.

The Castle Creek tasting room sits in the corner of the Red Cliffs Lodge lobby. It’s a perfect place to spend an hour or two during the heat of summer, when outside temperatures are hovering near the triple digits. The people doing the pouring know a great deal about both the wines and the local lore. It’s like “Wine 101″ meets “History of Southern Utah.” It’s worth a visit on your next trip to the Beehive State. After all, how many people can boast they’ve sipped on Utah wine?

Appeared in the January 2008 issue Santa Barbara’s Wine & Dine Magazine

Montezuma Canyon Ranch website by danny.
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