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Cottonwood Cellars Photos

Cottonwood Cellars Review

Region: Colorado

Reviewed: June 24, 2015 by
Published: July 22, 2015

As anyone who has been a caregiver would know, it is an intense labor of love. While being rewarding in a way that is difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced it, there is also a very restricting and draining nature to the whole thing. Imagine the joy when friends stepped up to the plate and offered to “Grandma Sit” so we could attend a nephew’s wedding in Western Colorado this June.

After emerging from our first day through the desert land surrounding Green River, Utah I had come to the conclusion that I really wished there where another route to beautiful Westcliffe, Colorado. Then realizing how lucky I was to be making the trip at all, I quickly decided to develop some gratitude and to start challenging myself to discover just how many positive things I could find along the way to our destination.

The Place:  My gratitude radar kicked in as we came to the town of Olathe, Colorado. Sure enough, there was a sign for a local winery! Cottonwood Cellars is located 3.4 miles off Highway 50 on Highway 348. As we pulled into the driveway of the 52 acres, I immediately got the sense of stepping back in time to my parent’s farm in Oregon. It was like my Mom saying, “Try this one, because I know you are going to really like it.” The well-groomed vineyard is bordered by the San Juan Mountain on the south, and the winery and tasting room is located on the premises in a building near the road.

The Experience:  We were immediately greeted by Diana Read who is a member of the Read family that owns Cottonwood Cellars. Diana is in charge of marketing the wine, and her husband Keith is the winemaker. As Diana is quick to point out, this is by design as Diana is a people person and Keith is the techy who basically taught himself to make wine. This winery has been in existence for 21 years and impressively uses 100 percent Colorado grapes.

The tasting room in small but hosts a beautiful old-world style bar and numerous medals and plaques that the winery has won over the years. The room is full of antiques and has the feel of a formal sitting room.

The Wines:  Let me start by saying that all of Cottonwood Cellar's small batch, hand-crafted wines are excellent. Most of the Cottonwood Cellar label wines sell at the winery for $18, and the Olathe label wines are $12. One of their most popular wines is the Cottonwood label White Pinot Noir and it sells for a mere $16 per bottle. Another wine worth sampling under the Cottonwood label is the 2009 Lemberger. This wine took a Bronze Medal at the 2014 San Francisco International wine competition. While being an old world variety, Colorado Lemberger is rapidly becoming a favorite among wine drinkers. With noticeable tannins and spiciness, it pairs particularly well with pork but could be paired with most BBQ fanfare.

My favorites at Cottonwood were the Classic Blend (non-vintage) and the Tawny Merlot Port. The Classic Blend is a Bordeaux-style blend and is rich and jammy and very much to my liking. The Tawny Merlot Port is only available through the winery tasting room and sells for $27. One sip and you can see why they can’t make this fast enough to put in Colorado outlets and why it is only available at the winery. It is made from 1996 vintage Merlot and is fortified with a distilled Merlot. I left the tasting room dreaming of the port poured over vanilla ice cream. Trust me, after returning home to Idaho with my bottles of Tawny Merlot Port, the reality was even better than the day dream.

This winery also sells a wine called Pinolem under the Olathe label. The Pinot Noir/Lemberger blend ($9.99) is light bodied and would pare well with almost any summer meal. I'm still kicking myself for not purchasing some.

If you are looking for the usual gift shop items, Cottonwood Cellars is not your place. If you are looking for a peaceful trip to the beautiful countryside, excellent wine and knowledgeable staff, Cottonwood Cellars may just be your ideal wine destination.

Address & Contact Information: 5482 Hwy 348 Olathe, Colorado 81425. Telephone: 970-323-6224, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Wed-Sat 11:00-5:30.

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