Modern day Colorado winemaking began in 1974 when Colorado State University – with a grant from the US government – planted test plots of wine grapes throughout the ‘four corners’ area of the southwest. One of those test plots is located directly in front of our present day winery, and is the oldest commercial Colorado vineyard in existence today. The Colorado Limited Winery Act was enacted in 1977, creating Colorado Limited Winery Licenses, which required the use of Colorado grapes to make wine. Our winery was founded soon after (1978) and, although other entities had bonded as “wineries” prior to that date, our winery was the first to produce and sell Colorado wines made from Colorado grapes. Those wines were originally sold under the Colorado Mountain Vineyards brand with the Colorado Cellars brand appearing in 1986 and the Rocky Mountain Vineyards and Orchard Mesa Wine Company brands appearing in 1990.
We assisted with the creation of the Grand Valley American Viticulture Area in 1991 and the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board around the same time. By 1990, there were five Colorado wineries – today, there are over 120 – but our winery pioneered the production of virtually all the types of Colorado wines made today: varietal grape wines, fruit wines, honey wines (meads), port wines, whimsical wines (RoadKill Red), and champagne.
We currently have a fermentation and storage capacity of over 29,000 gallons, with annual production fluctuating around 12,000 cases, representing over 30 types of wines and dozens of wine-based food items.
The original winery building remains nestled underground in a hillside overlooking the Bookcliff Mountains with the Colorado River and Grand Valley stretching out below. Owners Richard and Padte Turley continue to operate the winery on a daily basis with Padte as the state’s premier female winemaker. Our roots run deep in Colorado history as well, with our first family ancestor arriving in what is now Colorado via the Santa Fe Trail in 1824. Another ancestor later co-founded Fort Pueblo (currently the town of Pueblo) as a trading outlet for his “Taos Lightning” and shipped whiskey throughout Colorado with mountain men. With our combined 50+ years in the wine business, we are the only individuals in the state to have held positions of management or ownership in all four tiers of the industry; grape growing (vineyard), productions (winery), wholesale (distributor), and retail (liquor stores/restaurants)!
Leadership and innovation continue to be a priority for our winery today through our service on state and national organization boards, such as the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board and the American Vintners Association in Washington D.C.