Road Trip: Experiencing wine country | SteamboatToday.com

Road Trip: Experiencing wine country

If you go

¡ Two Rivers Winery is about 4 hours west of Steamboat Springs via Interstate 70. The winery and vineyards are elevated above the city on the south side of the Colorado River. The tasting room opens at 10 a.m. daily.

¡ Lodging on the premises is limited to 10 guest rooms, but additional nightly accommodations and an assortment of nationally branded restaurants are about 6 miles away via Redlands Parkway.

¡ From the winery, strenuous bicycling into the west entrance of Colorado National Monument is about 5 miles away via Highway 340 (Broadway).

¡ July represents the peak of annual bottling operations at the winery. Annual grape harvest in the Grand Valley begins in late September and continues into October.

¡ The full-time wine maker at Two Rivers is Rob Hammelman, who has his master’s degree in oenology from the University of Adelaide, Australia. The assistant winemaker is Sarah Fox.

If you can’t swing a trip to Bordeaux, France, this summer, don’t despair; Chateau Deux Fleuves is easily within your grasp.

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Two Rivers Winery owners Bob and Billie Witham provide 10 bed and breakfast rooms on their estate amid the grape vines in Grand Junction. When you wake up in the morning at Chateau Deux Fleuves and look out over the vineyard, you’d swear you were in the Loire Valley. The sandstone ramparts of the Colorado National Monument, however, are a certain sign you haven’t left the state.

Bob Witham, a former resident of Craig, planted his first vines in Grand Junction in 1999. He originally acquired his property in Grand Junction after concluding a long career in management of long-term care facilities. He once managed the Alpine Meadows care facility in Steamboat Springs, and by the end of his career oversaw 280 facilities as president of Living Centers of America in Austin, Texas. His initial intent was to develop a patio community on the level bench at 4,800 feet elevation above the south bank of the Colorado river on the city’s west side. Instead, he decided to pursue his passion for wine.

The Withams (Billie is an accountant) are very knowledgeable about wine, but they also have well-honed business skills. The chÕteau, with its spectacular buildings and opulent tasting rooms, is all about marketing wine to guests at the corporate retreats and weddings it plays host to.

Bob Witham said he’s satisfied if the bed and breakfast rooms break even, as long as they drive wine sales.

Two Rivers Winery has grown from sales of 1,200 to 14,000 cases in its seven years of production, and 40 percent of the sales are attributable to the tasting rooms. Significantly, the restaurant that leads all others in Colorado in terms of selling the Withams’ wines is Steamboat Springs’ The Butcher Shop.

When you check into Chateau Deux Fleuves, you’ll be impressed by the painted murals, hardwood floors and grand staircase. On a cool May night, the air was perfumed with the scent of large blooming rose bushes.

The pattern of vines on the wrought iron headboards in the second-story guest rooms catches the eye right away. There is a pair of wicker chairs and a claw-foot easy chair upholstered in tapestry. The next thing one’s eyes turn to is a side table stocked with six bottles of wine guests may choose to charge to their room.

There is the 2005 Chardonnay Reserve with spiced apple and lemon custard flavors. The 2005 Merlot boasts flavors of red berries, violets and vanilla bean.

Two Rivers’ 2005 Syrah strives to emulate wines produced in the Northern Rhone region of France. See if you can detect caramel, espresso and dark chocolate notes among the aromas of blueberry and blackberry.

There is also a 2004 Cabernet with mysterious earthy flavors including “cigar box” to savor. The 2006 Riesling was made from grapes grown in Delta County, and there is a 2005 Port made from Two Rivers’ estate vineyard to enjoy with dessert. Bring your own chocolate.

If you go

¡ Two Rivers Winery is about 4 hours west of Steamboat Springs via Interstate 70. The winery and vineyards are elevated above the city on the south side of the Colorado River. The tasting room opens at 10 a.m. daily.

¡ Lodging on the premises is limited to 10 guest rooms, but additional nightly accommodations and an assortment of nationally branded restaurants are about 6 miles away via Redlands Parkway.

¡ From the winery, strenuous bicycling into the west entrance of Colorado National Monument is about 5 miles away via Highway 340 (Broadway).

¡ July represents the peak of annual bottling operations at the winery. Annual grape harvest in the Grand Valley begins in late September and continues into October.

¡ The full-time wine maker at Two Rivers is Rob Hammelman, who has his master’s degree in oenology from the University of Adelaide, Australia. The assistant winemaker is Sarah Fox.