The Colorado winemakers are getting funky (westword)

By kristen kuchar
October 19, 2023
Aquila Cellars Wine

Natural wines have grown in popularity, and local producers have taken note

The term “natural wine” has gained a good amount of traction in recent years, and in Denver, bars like Noble Riot and Yacht Club have helped popularize the trend. Because there are no designated guidelines for natural wines like there are with organic wine, what the term means can vary by producer. In many cases, natural wines are produced with minimal intervention and are made with little or no additives. Often, they are described as bright, funky and hazy.

At Peony Lane, located in Paonia in the West Elks AVA (American Viticultural Area), wine is naturally fermented and produced with no additives, harmful chemicals, or fining agents. At Jack Rabbit Hill Farm in Hotchkiss, the farm is certified organic and certified biodynamic. Its low-input farming practices include utilizing first-use irrigation water of snow melt; biodynamic compost preparations (compost teas made from fermented plant and animal materials); hormone- and antibiotic-free horse and cow manure compost; cover crop seed; and organic sulfur. Grapes are hand-picked, and there are no commercial yeasts or additives used.

“There is a lot of confusion around natural wine due to the fact that there is no legal definition,” says Sauvage Spectrum co-owner and winemaker Patric Matysiewski. Plus, “It’s not what you expect,” he adds. “It doesn’t taste like any wine you’ve ever tried.”

Depending on the specific wine, it could be similar to kombucha, cider, or sour beer, he notes. In fact, Wine Enthusiast credits Denver’s love of craft beer, specifically sour beer, with sparking a greater interest in natural wine.

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