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—Courtesy of Mountain Spirit

Behind the Vines: Mountain Spirit Winery

The stunning mountain scenery near the base of Monarch Pass is a source of inspiration for this family-owned venture’s award-winning wines—and its eye-catching labels.

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The Winery: Mountain Spirit Winery

Opened: 1995

The People: In 1980, when the Oklahoma-based Barkett family was traveling through Colorado for the first time, their motor home broke down in Salida. Terry, a computer programmer, and Michael, a surgeon, were so impressed with the locals’ helpfulness and warmth that they purchased a piece of land just outside of town for their retirement. But after spending several weeks in Salida the following summer, the family decided not to wait and relocated there the very next year. While settling in Salida, Michael and Terry met Jim and Ann Seewald of Carlson Vineyards in Palisade, and they encouraged the Barketts to start their own winery.

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The Space: Mountain Spirit operates out of two locations: the winery, which is housed in a tidy barn tucked amongst fruit orchards near the eastern base of Monarch Pass, and a spacious, sunlit art gallery located along the “Little” Arkansas River in nearby Salida. Both locations offer complimentary tastings and direct sales.

The Grapes: Mountain Spirit purchases its grapes from growers on Colorado’s western slope and northern California. The winery produces one single-varietal wine, a smooth, light Chardonnay, but is best known for its blends. The 2014 Symphony in White, for example, is a crisp, pear-scented combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grapes that have spent a very short time in French oak barrels.

The Wine: Since opening in 1995, Mountain Spirit’s wines have won more than 50 national and international awards, including honors for many of its unique fruit blends like Angel Blush, which contains no grapes. The 2013 version is a sweet, rose-tinted blend of apple, pear, and raspberry wines that pairs well with spicy Mexican food.

Buzzed Trivia: To distinguish their Angel Series blends, Terry and Michael created an eye-catching label featuring a painting of an angel by local artist Pat Oglesby-Torian. The label evokes the legend of the Angel of Shavano, a Native American princess who sacrificed herself during a drought so that her people would have enough water to survive. Each summer, this selfless woman reappears as an angel-shaped snowfield on the southeastern slopes of Mt. Shavano, one of Colorado’s famous fourteeners, where the melting snow, which represents her tears, waters the fertile land below.

Taste it: During your visit, be sure to taste the 2014 Sophie’s Red, a silky blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes with a slight, smoky scent and a light pepper finish. If you prefer relatively dry wine with a fruity taste, try the 2014 Merlot/Raspberry, a blend of Merlot and raspberry wines, or the combination of Cabernet Franc and blackberry wines bottled as the 2014 Blackberry/Cabernet Franc.

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Take Home: In addition to bottles and gift boxes of their wines, Mountain Spirit’s gallery in Salida also sells a colorful assortment of local artwork, handmade jewelry, and other artistic creations, as well as Terry’s hand-woven rugs and tapestries.

Visit: Mountain Spirit Winery is located at 15750 County Road 220, about six miles west of Poncha Springs; 719-539-1175. The Gallery is located at 8046 West U.S. Highway 50 in Salida; 719-539-7848

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