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The Winery: Aspen Peak Cellars
The People: Winemakers Julie and Marcel Flukiger are both chefs by training. They met at Denver’s Brown Palace while Marcel—who is Swiss—was participating in an international work exchange. After falling in love and marrying in 1996, the Flukigers settled in the foothills, where they worked in a number of restaurants before opening their own catering company and B&B. When Marcel gave Julie a winemaking kit for Christmas in 2005, they discovered that they really enjoyed making wine. After winning several awards, they decided to take the plunge and open Aspen Peak Cellars.
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The Space: Open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Aspen Peak Cellars’ tasting room is located in downtown Bailey. You would never guess from the bright and tastefully decorated interior that the building once housed an auto repair shop. A simple tasting bar—festooned with ornamental clusters of lighted grapes—dominates the room, while colorful watercolors, including several by Julie’s mother, Nancy McDonald, adorn the crisp, beige walls.
The Grapes: Although Aspen Peak Cellars’ grapes come primarily from Lodi, California, strict (and rather arcane) laws require the Flukigers to label their wines as “American” instead of Californian.
The Wine: All of Aspen Peak Cellars’ wine is made in Bailey. In addition to direct sales from their tasting room, Julie and Marcel sell their wine at several local outlets and through their website, where they offer free shipping on purchases of three, six, or 12 bottles. Their best-selling white is the medium-bodied Pinot Grigio, whose subtle honeydew flavor pairs well with creamy Swiss fondue, according to Marcel.
Buzzed Trivia: Aspen Peak Cellars is one of the few Colorado wineries that produces sparkling wine according to the Méthode Champenoise, a traditional method of bottle fermentation by which still wine is bottled with yeast and corn sugar, causing it to referment. Because this process produces sediment, the bottles are stored upside-down in “riddling racks” and rotated regularly to allow it to settle in the necks. To remove the sediment, the necks are frozen in dry ice, and the bottles are then capped with a champagne cork. The resulting Blanc De Blancs is a refreshingly crisp, dry sparkling wine with a hint of grapefruit that’s just right for a summer afternoon celebration.
Taste It: For $5 you can sample six wines on Aspen Peak Cellars’ current tasting list. In addition to the sparkling wine, be sure to try their Bailey Barberian, which is made entirely from Barbera grapes. Its smoky scent and subtle spice pair well with barbeque ribs or pulled pork and grilled corn.
Take Home: Even if you don’t normally drink port, try a sip of Aspen Peak Cellars’ Mocha Zinsation dessert wine. Fortified with brandy and flavored with both chocolate and coffee, this delicious Zinfandel port, which is part of this year’s prestigious Governor’s Cup “Niche” Case, is what Julie evocatively calls “dessert in a bottle.”
Visit: Aspen Peak Cellars Winery is located at 60750 Highway 285, Bailey; 303-816-5504