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Nestled against the Foothills, Boulder is a prime destination for day hikes, sipping flights of craft beer, and shopping on the Pearl Street Mall. But one often-overlooked reason for visiting the college town is its small-but-mighty wine scene, led by a team of passionate, creative Colorado founders and winemakers. Though there aren’t any vineyards here (yet), there are ample opportunities to sample wines made in the Centennial State. Here are the Boulder wineries and tasting rooms worth adding to your must-try list.
Silver Vines Winery
Making wine is a family affair at Silver Vines Winery, which is headquartered in Arvada and recently relocated its Boulder tasting room to a space less than a block from the Pearl Street Mall. After five years working in the wine industry, brothers Danny and Jeff Chayer launched their own venture in Olde Town Arvada in 2011. Though Danny died in 2017, the family continues to carry on his legacy with wines made from grapes grown on Colorado’s Western Slope and in Washington’s Columbia Valley. Their new tasting room offers tastings and wines by the glass and by the bottle. They also plan to have live entertainment starting this spring. “On our menu, you’ll find a variety of white wines, red wines, sweet wines as well as a lovely chocolate dessert wine. In the winter, we serve hot spiked cider and mulled wine and, during summer months, we’ll have a wine slushie,” says Kristin Chayer, who co-owns the winery with her husband Jeff and serves as its general manager.
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Open Mondays through Thursdays from 2 to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 2015 13th St.; 720-535-9712
Founded by Ulla Merz and John Garlich, two engineers who loved drinking wine and first discovered Palisade on a backpacking trip in the mid-1990s, BookCliff has two tasting rooms that are worth your time. One is in Boulder, which also houses the winery, and the other in Palisade, where 14 varieties of grapes are grown onsite. Located on the northernmost edge of town (right next to another Boulder winery, Settembre Cellars), the Front Range location is a cozy spot for sampling some of BookCliff’s 100-percent Colorado wines, which include cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, muscat, malbec, petit verdot, riesling, syrah, and several red and white blends. You can also take a guided behind-the-scenes winery tour, which includes a virtual tour of the 37-acre vineyard in Palisade and a wine tasting paired with chocolates and cheeses.
Open Thursdays through Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m.; 1501 Lee Hill Rd., #17; 303-449-9463
If you’re scratching your head about the name of this Boulder winery, you’re not alone. “People come in all the time and ask, ‘Where’s Vinnie?’” says winemaker Eric Wilson. With the name, founder Tim Moley—who also runs the Boulder-based chocolate company Chocolove—decided to put a cheeky spin on “vitis vinifera,” the species name for wine grapes. Since 2016, the winery has been using a variety of vitis vinifera from California, Oregon, and Colorado’s Western Slope to make small-batch wines in Boulder, most recently from its production facility and light-filled tasting room in an industrial park on the eastern edge of town. Today, Vinnie Fera makes chardonnay, rose, pinot noir, sparkling rose, and malbec.
Open Thursdays and Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.; 3012 Sterling Circle; 720-287-1252
When engineers Blake and Tracy Eliasson began making wine in 2007, they set out to show off the Centennial State’s unique high-altitude terroir, using their scientific backgrounds to help perfect their craft. Over the last 14 years at Settembre Cellars, they’ve done exactly that, making a variety of reds and whites using exclusively Colorado-grown grapes—syrah, sangiovese, cabernet franc, riesling, chardonnay, rosato, and even a cider made from heirloom apples grown in Montezuma County. Head to their North Boulder tasting room and winery to compare and contrast their different wines as part of a tasting flight, or just sit back and enjoy a glass of your favorite vintage (or both). Bring your own snacks for an urban picnic, drawing inspiration from their list of suggested wine pairing recipes.
Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. (reservations are recommended for tastings;1501 Lee Hill Rd., #16, 303-532-1892