Long known for its microbreweries and beer, Colorado is gaining traction in the winery business. Many small, local wineries have been sprouting up all over the Front Range and growing in popularity. From the Manitou Springs Wine Festival to the Denver Urban Wine Fest and Denver International Wine Festival, to the Colorado Mountain Winefest in September, the Colorado appreciation for fermented fruit is gaining momentum.
“The Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE) is a member-based association that exists to encourage and support enology and viticulture in Colorado.” If you’re interested in viticulture, especially in the state of Colorado, check out their extensive website.
One local winery that has been a huge success since it’s opening in 2011 is Balistreri Vineyards, located at 1946 E. 66th Avenue. A local family business, they have been awarded medal after medal in local, national, and international wine competitions. Originally farmers, then owners of a large greenhouse, the family realized the cut flower and potted plant industry near home was taking a turn for the worse. They decided to tear down the dozens of greenhouses and build a little wooden building to house the beginnings of their winery.
This is the back of the winery in the winter. A large yard space is surrounded by a terraced walkway which is wrapped in lights in the winter and greenery in the summer. There is a raised stage on which bands could perform, or a couple could say their wedding vows.
Inside the remodeled and expanded building, there is a giant hall to hold a few hundred guests, a fully functional kitchen, and a beautiful picture-perfect staircase leading up to the bride’s and grooms chambers. It is a perfect set-up for a wedding, and so picturesque to boot.
This is just a sampling of the many award-winning wines Balistreri has produced. They specialize in bold, fruit-forward reds and dry, refreshing whites. If you go in the tasting room you can sample their entire line-up of wines. “The Winery is open for Wine Tasting, Winery Tours & Lunch seven days a week from 11:00am-5:00pm.”
The tours are fascinating and informative. All wine-making and aging is done in house. The basement is filled floor to ceiling with giant oak barrels, housing future Balistreri wines.
These barrels are majority American oak, with a few specialty barrels from time to time for seasonal and special wines. For example, two barrels that previously housed whiskey hold future port at the moment, to give unique flavors and aromas to the finished products.
They also hand-fill and cork all their wine bottles here, with huge ancient metal machines.
And the final, finishing touch: a swirl of wax to seal the top of the bottle. Keeps it fresh, and classy.
Demonstrating how to wax the bottle.
After your tour and/or tasting, if you’re feeling hungry or too buzzed to drive home yet, they have a wonderful lunch menu with everything from small tastes and cheese trays to full meals of salads, sandwiches, and pastas.
This is the roasted pear salad with dried fruits, goat cheese, candied nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. The bed of arugula provided the perfect bite to the sweet fruit and balsamic, and I’m a sucker for anything with goat cheese.
The service is quick, and they are very attentive. Water glasses are kept refilled, and you can of course have a glass of any of their wines with lunch. Oh, and if you go on the tour after the tasting, they will pour you a glass of your favorite to take with you!
The location is fabulous, with the exception of the overall location. They family farm was in the same place for decades, but around it has sprung up the industrial heart of commerce city. Thus, the picturesque porch and trellises surround a lovely sitting area, right next to which drive giant semi trucks and various construction vehicles. The business next door rents cranes, whose long metal bodies you see peeking over the winery’s back fence.
I have not attended any special events, but I know they have many. A wine and dinner with a projected romance movie, live music, and harvest festivals are only a few of the yearly offerings. Check their website often for updates.
They also have a wine club, which offers two levels of membership, access to new releases and special edition wines, and great discounts. Especially if you live in the area you should consider it, as you get even more discounts for picking up your wines rather than shipping them.
Overall, I would rate Balistreri Winery as:
- Taste: 8
- Atmosphere: 8
- Value: 6
As a reminder, for reviews the evaluations are based on:
- Taste: 1 (wet toast) – 10 (your taste buds have died and gone to heaven)
- Atmosphere: 1 (gas station bathroom) – 10 (best you’ve ever experienced)
- Value: 1 (not worth it) – 10 (super duper deal)
All opinions are those of the Budget Epicurean. Please enjoy responsibly.