BAILEY, Colo. — A couple put so much work and money into wines that no one will ever taste. A semitrailer crashed into their winery, Aspen Peak Cellars, and demolished it early Tuesday morning.
The devastation goes beyond the loss of a building — but also a livelihood.
“It’s our livelihood. What are we going to do?” Marcel Flukiger said.
He can’t hardly believe how a semitruck hauling bottled water drove straight into their business about 12:20 a.m.
“It’s all we have. It’s all we do. Day and night,” he said.
The Colorado State Patrol said the driver missed the curve on Highway 285 and smashed into the winery.
“Pay attention to the signs when driving in the mountains. The warning signs are there for a reason,” Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener said.
Flukiger lost the equivalent of 25,000 bottles of wine. Half that wine had already been bottled. The rest of it was in tanks and barrels. Some of that wine was in red puddles around the building Tuesday.
Some of it made its way into the Platte River, along with fuel and oil from the crashed truck.
“Seeing this is like I lost my own home,” said an emotional Barb Halverson, who works for the Flukigers.
She knows the hard work and love the owners poured into each broken bottle.
“It’s their future. They had years of wine they were planning on. They’ve got to start all over again,” Halverson said.
But Flukiger questions rebuilding without improvements to safety along the highway.
“I’m not so sure I’m comfortable working in there,” Flukiger said, pointing to the huge pile of wreckage.
The winery had been in operation for four years. It had relocated to Bailey when alightning strike burned down a barn the Flukigers used as a wedding venue in Conifer in July 2011.
But they do realize it could have been worse.
“There would have been 50 people in here. None of us would have walked out of this,” Flukiger said.
But there are no grapes of wrath here — just sorrow.
“Just trying to make a living with a dream of a business that really is fantastic. But it can also end like this, in no time,” he said.
The driver is identified as 34-year-old Charles Constant of Boynton Beach, Fla. He’s hospitalized in serious condition at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood.
CSP investigators do not think the driver was under the influence of alcohol.