Enjoy the fruity flavors of Provence, France at this beautiful estate winery and inn in Hotchkiss.
The Winery: Leroux Creek Vineyards
The People: When Yvon Gros, a chef, and his wife, Joanna Reckert, a New York City fashion designer, first visited the North Fork Valley in 1999, the landscape reminded them both of Provence, the gorgeous region in southern France close to where Yvon grew up. They quickly decided to relocate from Vail to this lush valley, where they purchased 54 acres to pursue their dream of starting a vineyard and country inn.
The Space: Nestled on the flanks of Grand Mesa, this property is a peaceful place to relax and enjoy some of Yvon’s delicious wine. After a tasting in the small, underground cellar, be sure to bring a glass up to the sunny patio located just above the tasting room, where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding canyons and mountains.
The Grapes: Part of the West Elk American Viticultural Area (AVA), the vineyards at Leroux Creek are some of the highest in the world. Thanks to the cool, dry climate, there is little threat of pests or disease, so Yvon is able to grow his grapes organically, using only a mixture of vinegar and water to control the weeds. Due to the cold winters, Yvon and Joanna plant only hardy hybrid grapes like Cayuga and Chambourcin, a French varietal that gives his red wines a deep, ruby-red color.
The Wine: Yvon’s signature wine, which garnered a gold medal at the 2010 Sonoma County Harvest Fair, is the Chambourcin, a dark red wine with lovely scents of plum and chocolate that pairs beautifully with both bison and elk. He also uses Chambourcin grapes to give the “Rosé de Leroux” its beautiful blush. The rosé’s vanilla and cherry flavors and lower alcohol content make a light and refreshing wine that’s ideal for sipping on a hot summer afternoon.
Buzzed Trivia: Because Yvon is from France, where locals are sometimes called “frogs,” he and Joanna decided to feature a playful series of beret-capped frogs on the colorful Leroux Creek labels. The quirky drawings were designed by Eileen Gallagher Jacobson, a local artist.
Taste it: Tastings are normally offered from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during the summer and fall, but because Leroux Creek is a small, family-owned property, it’s a good idea to call ahead to make certain that someone will be there. Don’t leave without tasting My Cherry Amour, a wine made from the juice of cherries grown on a neighboring property. The cherries are naturally sweet, so Yvon doesn’t add any sugar. The result is a smooth, sour cherry wine with a scent of almonds and a lingering flavor that Yvon likes to pair with grilled lamb, steak, or eggplant topped with basil.
Take Home: Instead of simply purchasing wine to take home with you, consider staying a night or two in the intimate, adobe-style inn. The secluded hot tub is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy an inky black sky filled with twinkling stars—as well as a refreshing glass of wine.
Visit: Leroux Creek Winery is located at 12388 3100 Road, Hotchkiss; 970-872-4746.