Colorado Wine: Bookcliff Vineyards

Before I could leave Colorado I had to try some of the state’s wine.  There are more than 40 wineries in Colorado but unfortunately I only had the chance to check out one.  Fortunately it was a good one: Bookcliff Vineyards.

Bookcliff Vineyards was founded in 1999 by husband and wife John Garlich and Ulla Merz.  Their 33 acre vineyard is located in an area of western Colorado known as “the Vinelands,” a place where grapes were grown in the early 1900s.

The tasting room is located inside their fermentation and bottling facility, a relatively small warehouse in North Boulder.  When I walked inside I was greeted by Justin Jannusch, Bookcliff’s assistant winemaker who also led the tasting.  It was intimate and informal, the perfect atmosphere for enjoying a tasting.

Bookcliff grows 10 varietals (Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling, Muscat Blanc, Orange Muscat, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Black Muscat), and has an impressive range of wines for its size.  In the tasting room I had a hard time narrowing down the choice of wines to taste among the 16 offered.

I decided to start with two whites.  The 2008 Viognier ($16) was a delicious introduction to Colorado wines.  Flavors of lime and honeydew give way to a clean finish that had just a hint of spice.  Next was the 2008 Riesling ($14), sweet yet light with notes of green apple and a crisp finish.

Moving on to the reds, my first wine was the 2004 Merlot ($14).  With its fresh red fruit flavors, it reminded me of the Merlot from Long Island that I enjoyed during my trip to the North Fork.  Next I really liked Friday’s Folly ($11), an upbeat red blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah), that has bright cherry and plum flavors.  It’s smooth and very easy to drink, making it a great wine for pizza or pasta.

I was almost surprised at how much I enjoyed the 2008 Tempranillo ($25).  It has lively flavors of cherry and red plum rounded out by cedar and vanilla.

My favorite of Bookcliff’s reds was the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve ($25).  Raspberry, black cherry and plum flavors finish with a hint of smoke and spice.  Gentle tannins give the wine a smooth mouthfeel.  Like all of Bookcliff’s reds, this wine is very versatile and can pair with a variety of meat and pasta dishes.

I ended the tasting with the Finali ($20), a port-style dessert wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes.  Fruit forward with some spiciness and sweet without being syrupy, this wine goes well with dessert or on its own.

As I was savoring the wines Justin gave me a tour of the facility, showing me everything from the crusher and destemmer to the bottle labeling and corking machines.  It was nice making a personal connection to the winemaking process at Bookcliff, and it really enhanced my tasting experience.  I definitely recommend visiting the tasting room or vineyard, or pick up one of their wines if you travel to Colorado.

For more information on Bookcliff Vineyards visit

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