Tart cherries, blueberries, peaches, rhubarb, pineapple, cantaloupe, gooseberries, carrots and even beets can be found in the fermentation room at Forgotten Roots: An American Heritage Winery in Windsor, Colorado. The only fruit you will not find are grapes.
Ryan Carroll, winemaker and manager at the winery and bar, always wanted to exclude grapes from his creations. Carroll said he strives to push the boundaries of modern winemaking in a way that harkens back to the traditions of the first European pioneers.
Carroll explained that many settlers and homesteaders coming from Western Europe were accustomed to drinking French and Italian wines. With grapes being harder to grow in the new world, they turned to making wine from whatever fruits and vegetables were on hand. These early experimenters inspired both the name of Forgotten Roots and style of wines they create.
The creativity that drove early winemakers is also evident in Carroll. In fact, before Carroll became a professional winemaker, he was crafting the fruity beverages for himself. Carroll said his first wine was a hopped-apple wine made from the apple trees and hop vines in his own backyard.
“The first alcohol I ever tasted was some I produced myself,” Carroll said. “I’ve always made and drank what I like.”
This rediscovery of country-style winemaking led to Carroll’s creative obsession to produce bright, refreshing wines from the bounty of the local land.
This is evident in at Forgotten Roots. Carroll said most of the fruit is sourced from nearby farms. Friends, neighbors and regular costumers bring peaches from their trees and rhubarb from their gardens. Carroll and his wife even take to foraging for ingredients, scouring the Poudre Canyon for wild plums and the Rocky Mountains for elderberries.
Carroll’s passion for using locally sourced ingredients can be tasted in the freshness of his wines. Carroll said no fruit concentrates, syrups or flavors make their way into any of his ferments. Priority is given to the natural flavors of the fruit. This mentality even applies to the yeast used to turn the fruit into wine. Carroll said he uses wild yeast that grows naturally on the skin of many fruits.
The emphasis on local traditions even extends the the building that houses Forgotten Roots. The wine bar and fermentation room are located in a historic home on Main Street in downtown Windsor. Ironically, because the house was built in the late 1800s, its original deed prohibits alcohol on the property. The deed states “Intoxicating liquors shall never be manufactured, sold or otherwise disposed of…in or upon the premises.” The deed is framed and hangs proudly next to the bar.
Forgotten Roots sells wine by the glass from their own wine and other local wineries. Mead and ciders from around the state are also available on tap.
Customers can sit at high top tables inside or lounge on the patio that is decorated with mulberry trees and a variety of berry bushes. The winery and bar even features a designated parking spot for food trucks.
In addition to selling unique wine creations, Forgotten Roots hosts weekly trivia nights, art classes video game tournaments and many other events. Carroll advises to be on the look out for free screenings of horror films starting in October.
The wine at Forgotten Roots is simple, creative and impressive. The vibe is relaxed and centers around giving customers a different type of winery experience.
Carroll said his goal at Forgotten Roots is to open people’s minds about how to make and enjoy a different type of wine.
“We’re the winery that thinks of itself as a brewery,” Carroll said.