Drive just 10 minutes northwest of downtown Fort Collins along North Overland Trail and you’ll feel a world away from the bustling city, as hay fields stretch towards the mountains and the road shrinks to a two-lane thoroughfare. When a small vineyard and aronia hedges come into view, you’ve arrived at Blendings at the Preserve.
Tucked next to the Preserve, a popular wedding venue, seven-month-old Blendings has become a destination. There, wine lovers can choose from the “wine on-demand” menu featuring custom blends crafted by director and winemaker Casey Dunn, or play vitner by creating their own wine blend.
Dunn has chosen to source wines from around the country, creating a model—and a taste—that’s unique. About half of the wines at Blendings come from the usual domestic suspects, such as California, Oregon, and Washington, but the other half hails from more surprising areas, like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. “We want people to try the wines that the U.S. has to offer,” Dunn explains. “There are so many good wineries out there, in every state really—even Alaska has a little wine region—but not a lot of people know about it so it’s more of an educational experience.”
The learning doesn’t stop there. It takes a lot of sipping and sampling to achieve your own perfect blend, but that trial and error is part of the fun. Here’s how it works: Belly up to the horseshoe-shaped bar and pick your path: red, white, or “off-road,” which Blendings defines as half red and half white. Dunn then leads you through a blind tasting of six such wines, encouraging you to take notes and score each option.
Then, the blending begins. Using a syringe, you combine the wines as you see fit to create a successful blend. There are no rules: Mix red with white, create a 90/10 split…whatever tickles your taste buds. Measuring and note-taking is critical, as there’s nothing worse than creating the perfect wine without knowing how you got there.
Above all, it’s a fun experience. Dunn cracks jokes, guests interact and compare notes, lots of laughter ensues. The folks at Blendings ensure that it is a judgment-free zone; they’re making “wine without rules.”
After you create your recipe, the concoction is blended, bottled, and sealed for you, and then you adhere a personalized label. Voilà—you’ve created your own custom blend.
If you go: Blendings at the Preserve is open Wednesday–Friday from 3–8 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday from 12–8 p.m. The full Blending Experience (includes the tasting, blending, and three bottles to take home) costs $120. A mini-Blending option (taste and blend with no commitment) is also available for $35. Reservations are encouraged. 3924 Bingham Hill Rd., Fort Collins, 970-889-3162