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Some of the vines in front of the eco-friendly straw bale tasting room at Guy Drew Vineyards, located 7 miles southwest of Cortez. —Courtesy of Guy Drew Vineyards

Behind the Vines: Guy Drew Vineyards

One of Colorado’s most acclaimed wineries is tucked between Ancestral Puebloan ruins in a stunning slickrock canyon located in the far southwestern corner of the state.

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The Winery: Guy Drew Vineyards

Opened: 2000

The People: After more than two decades of working in customer service and sales, Guy Drew, who grew up in upstate New York, was ready for a change. He sold his Denver-based equipment parts business and began to search for property where he could build a winery. In 1997, he found a beautiful parcel southwest of Cortez and began preparing the land for vines. The following year, his wife, Ruth, left her paralegal job in Denver, and together they built a beautiful straw bale home and winery. Amazingly, neither Guy nor Ruth had any previous experience making wine, but they have since grown Guy Drew Vineyards into one of the state’s most acclaimed wineries.

The Space: Guy Drew operates out of two locations: the Pueblo-style straw bale winery, which the couple built on a terrace in McElmo Canyon, a beautiful sandstone gorge adjacent to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument; and a small tasting room inside the Ute Mountain Indian Trading Company and Museum, just east of Cortez.

The Grapes: Guy, the winemaker, uses only Colorado-grown grapes to craft his award-winning wine. The grapes come from multiple vineyards around Palisade and Cortez, as well as the Drews’ own 155 acres, where he has experimented with a number of varietals on vines that are carefully cultivated between numerous Ancestral Puebloan ruins.

The Wine: Guy Drew Vineyards is best known for their excellent white wines, whose fruity tastes are enhanced through the process of cold fermentation. The Drews’ best-seller is the Unoaked Chardonnay, which has a slight pear nose and a luscious, lingering apple-and-citrus flavor. The 2012 vintage of Guy’s Sweet Riesling, which won a gold medal in the 2015 Colorado Governors Cup competition, boasts a distinct green-apple flavor perfect for sipping on a hot summer afternoon or pairing with spicy Thai dishes.

Buzzed Trivia: All of the Guy Drew wines have eye-catching labels that feature a large, pointy arrowhead. The Drews chose this distinctive symbol after unearthing the arrowhead, which dates to AD 850, on their property during winery construction.

Taste it: Guy Drew Vineyards offers complimentary tastings at both locations. One notable red is the 2012 Cabernet Franc, a Bordeaux varietal that makes a beautiful purplish-red wine with a slight tobacco scent and cherry flavor. Guy is also about to release a 2012 Yellow Jacket Dryland, a full-bodied red made from a lesser-known hybrid grape called Baco Noir. These grapes were dry-farmed at a small vineyard near the town of Dolores, and the result of this unusual combination is a smooth, distinctive wine with complex, fruity overtones including a hint of plum.

Take Home: If you visit the Cortez tasting room, you can also browse at the Ute Mountain Indian Trading Company, a large store owned by the Ute Mountain Ute tribe that sells traditional hand-coiled pottery, jewelry, and kachina figures.

Visit: Guy Drew Vineyards is located at 19891 Road G, about seven miles southwest of Cortez; 970-565-9211. Their second tasting room is located inside the Ute Mountain Indian Trading Company, 27601 Highway 160 in downtown Cortez; 970-565-4492

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