This quaint winery in Estes Park uses only handpicked, Colorado-grown grapes.

The bright and spacious tasting room at Snowy Peaks Winery in downtown Estes Park.
(Photo: Terri Cook)

The Winery: Snowy Peaks Winery

Opened: 2005

The People: Snowy Peaks owners Candice and Erik Mohr are clearly not afraid to take a chance. Scientists by training, the duo worked as ecologists first in Arizona, where they met, and then in Colorado, where Candice grew up. But in 2003, after visiting Erik’s former business partner, who had just opened a winery in Arizona, Erik became intrigued and asked for a winemaking kit for Christmas. The next fall, after overoading their Subaru with grapes from Colorado’s western slope, Erik made his first large batch of wine. The results were so well received that they decided to start their own winery.

The Space: Open seven days a week, Snowy Peaks’ attractive tasting room is ideally located in downtown Estes Park. With multiple rooms, tasteful product displays, and comfortable outdoor and indoor seating, it’s a welcoming place to try some of their award-winning wines, or relax and enjoy a glass with friends.

The Grapes: Erik uses only handpicked, Colorado-grown grapes to craft their wine. The grapes come from a dozen west-slope vineyards around Palisade and Paonia, as well as Burlington’s Worden Farms, which grows several cold-tolerant hybrid varietals, including Lacrosse, Cayuga White, and Riesling, which Erik blends to create their creamy, semi-sweet Oso White.

The Wine: All Snowy Peaks wine is handcrafted in Estes Park, and it’s sold primarily through their tasting room and website. Two standouts include the ruby-red 2011 Élevé (French for “high”)—a Rhône-style blend of Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Syrah—and the smooth 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, whose berry and black pepper aromas are the perfect accompaniment to any backyard barbecue. Both won medals in the state’s 2015 Governor’s Cup competition.

Buzzed Trivia: To distinguish their Rhône-style reds, Erik and Candice created an eye-catching label featuring a painting of Moraine Park, a gorgeous valley in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. They chose this piece, painted by local artist Jeff Blake, in part because it’s where they were married.

Taste It: For $5 you can sample any five wines on Snowy Peaks’ current tasting list. Kids are also welcome, as the winery has its own play area and juice tastings to keep them happily occupied. As you progress from the dry to the sweet reds, be sure to try the 2012 Petit Verdot, whose light, upfront plum and vanilla flavors belie its rich, smoky finish.

Take Home: Snowy Peaks sells a tempting assortment of gourmet foods to complement their wines, including Vin de Mais’ popular wine-flavored popcorn and Quintessential Chocolate’s mouthwatering Syrah Liqueur Pralines. The winery also offers a great selection of cheeses, such as Haystack Mountain’s Herbes de Provence Chèvre, which Candice likes to pair with their refreshing 2014 Dry Riesling.

Visit: Snowy Peaks Winery is located at 292 Moraine Ave., Estes Park; 970-586-2099