Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Jackie Thompson (Boulder Creek)

Jackie Thompson
Most Colorado wineries are small family operations and Boulder Creek Winery is no exception. Mike, Jackie and Will Thompson are the husband, wife and son team that is quickly rising to the top of the Colorado wine hierarchy. Only opened for 8 years, they have been consistently putting out award-winning wines, including Colorado's first ever Jefferson Cup for their 2006 VIP Reserve. They also offer a unique series of blending seminars in which their wine club members actually are responsible for choosing the cépage of Boulder Creek's top red blend. Jackie is the enologist and principal winemaker for Boulder Creek and she joins us this week in our Meet the Winemaker series.

CWP: How did you get into winemaking?

I have French heritage on both sides of my family, plus my family made wines as a part of daily life (… just preserving their local fruits!).

As a college student in the mid 70’s my interest in wine broadened, and in 1980 I received a degree in Plant & Soil Science to grow wine grapes. (… anyone remember the show “Falcon Crest”?) During college I met my future husband, Mike, who had been a wine steward at a prominent German restaurant in Springfield, MA. We immediately shared a life-long love of wine (… and each other!).

When we moved to Colorado in 1992, I was astounded to learn that Vitis vinifera grew here, and I was determined to turn those grapes into wine. Over the next decade I made home wine out of Colorado grapes, volunteered at other Colorado wineries, and took a 2-year series of weekend winemaking classes at UC Davis in California.

In 2003, we opened Boulder Creek Winery with the crush of 16 tons of Colorado grapes – my first commercial endeavor!

CWP: If you weren’t in the wine business, where would you be working?

I wouldn’t be! My husband, Mike, would not be retired and would still be killing himself earning big bucks in high tech, and I would be eating bon bons on the couch reading historical biographies and watching figure skating on TV.

CWP: What do you do when you’re not at the winery?

I forego the bon bons and TV in favor of Sprint Triathlons (…did two this year); spending as much time as possible with my three grandchildren (…family members actually LIKE me when they are under 10 years old!); … and discussing ad nauseam with Mike all nature of things ranging from how to wipe our tasting room glasses to how we wish to die when our bodies give us “the sign”.

CWP: What is a wine that you currently do not make that you want to make?

I do not want to make any more wines. I love Champagne, but enjoy drinking it too much to want to make it part of my “work”!

CWP: If you could make wine in any wine region in the world, other than Colorado, where would you be making wine and why?

Provence. I love their rosé and it is fairly easy to make. The lazy French in me just comes out here … can’t help it!

CWP: What is the best bottle of wine you’ve ever drunk?

A 1982 Château Gloria from the St. Julien appellation of France’s Bordeaux wine region Haut-Médoc. … classic Bordeaux served with several Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners (we had several bottles). There were many other Bordeaux wines that were comparable in quality to these, but the memories evoked by these particular bottles elevated them to another level altogether:

In our family there is a particular case of wine that we fondly refer to as “Canoe Wine.” In the mid to late 80’s while living in Vermont we shared a mutual interest in Bordeaux wines with our neighbors Jack & Roberta. While the four of us enjoyed the consumption of many great Bordeauxs, Mike and Jack in particular thoroughly studied the Bordeaux futures market to find some great wines at remarkable values.

When we moved to Colorado in 1992, we found that our canoe was too long to fit in the moving van, so Jack graciously offered to trade it for a case of 1982 Bordeaux’s from his cellar (…he REALLY liked canoeing!). All 1982’s, they included a mix of Leoville Barton, Lynch Bages, and Chateau Gloria (my favorite). Ahhhh….

(Remarkably, Jack and Roberta’s first grandchild was born today – Oct. 25, 2011.)


CWP: To what style of music would you compare your wine lineup?


Reds: big and bold Beethovan;

Whites: light and playful Vivaldi.

CWP: What do you think consumers should think of when they think about Colorado Wine?

They should think … is there a multiple-case discount so I can stock up?

CWP: Where do you see the Colorado wine industry in 10 years?

There will be a prominent article in Westword with the title “Three Reasons Why Colorado Wine DOESN’T Suck Anymore”.

CWP: What question would you like to ask me and my readers?

“Celebrate local” is all the rage for food and craft beer. How can we extent that sentiment to wine?

1 comment:

  1. Jackie, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions. I'm sure Mike is thankful that you'd rather make wine than eat bon bons all day! I think the answer to your question can be found in restaurants. If we can get the local sommeliers sold on Colorado wine, the consumers will support it, too.