Sterling’s year-old winery scored some major recognition recently, taking a silver and a gold medal at the Colorado State Fair.

Cindy Dodge, a former corrections officer, earned her first awards just two years ago when her pomegranate-infused red wine took People’s Choice, Judges’ Choice and Grand Champion at the Logan County Fair. She opened Reds Wine Boutique at 112 S. Third Ave. in August last year and decided this year to “go for the gold.”

The Colorado State Fair wine competition is open to the world, so Dodge’s wines were up against wines from all over the West. Although her wines fell short of Best in Show – that honor went to a winery from New Mexico – her Rabid Rojo Red brought home a gold medal and Axel’s shiraz earned a silver.

The Rabid Rojo Red is a variation of the winery’s Rojo Red, which is a blend of shiraz, merlot and pinot noir varietals with oak chips and peppercorn. To make it “rabid,” Dodge infuses the wine with habanero pepper essence just before bottling. The result is a robust flavor that finishes with a warmth lingering on the back of the tongue. It is a pleasant sensation that one wants to fully savor before taking another sip.

“We wanted something that sort of has a bite to it, but isn’t ‘hot’ like peppery food is,” Dodge said.

According to guidelines from the Food & Wine blog both the Rabid Rojo Red and Axel’s shiraz would pair nicely with the spicy, Mexican-themed foods and full-flavored barbecues popular in the West.

Dodge hopes to compete in the 2020 Governor’s Cup wine competition held by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

In the meantime, Dodge is getting ready for the changing seasons with a black cherry wine in time for Hallowe’en – one of the sweeter wines Reds produces – and Carmella’s Cranberry for the holidays. Anyone interested in a particular varietal should call the shop at (970) 370-5607 to see whether it is in stock.

Reds Wine also hosts a number of events that pair one’s favorite wine with fun things to do. The winery posts its events on its Facebook page.