Colorado is home to just over 100 wineries, most which are owned and operated by families that started careers in other fields. Some even see their winery as a retirement endeavor. Last week's winemaker/proprietor is the only winery to be run by the second generation. This week's winemaker comes from a long line of winemakers, but from an ocean away. John Barbier grew up in the Loire Valley of France where his family has been making wine for 150 years. John introduced the first vintages of Maison la Belle Vie (French for "House of the Beautiful Life") in 2006. He also owns and operates Le Rouge restaurant and piano bar in downtown Grand Junction. The food is very good, but I was surprised by the numerous spelling errors on the restaurant's fairly extensive wine list and the staff's apathetic response when I pointed out the misspellings.
John is in the process of selling Le Rouge to his brother-slash-restaurant manager so that he can focus on the winery and vineyards. John's wine philosophy is to produce old-world style food-friendly wines. The winery and vineyard also doubles as a wedding and event site dubbed Amy's Courtyard. If you are looking at hosting a beautiful event outside with food and wine as the main attraction, I highly recommend you inquire about John's services.
CWP: How did you get into winemaking?
My family did it for many years in France. As I am a chef, I enjoy combining my love of food and wine.
CWP: If you weren’t in the wine business, where would you be working?
I am in the wine business already, so there is nothing I would rather do.
CWP: What do you do when you’re not at the winery?
I love working outside; there is always something to do at the winery or in the vineyard.
CWP: What is a wine that you currently do not make that you want to make?
I would like to make pinot noir, but I have enough varieties already and don't want to add more.
CWP: If you could make wine in any wine region in the world, other than Colorado, where would you be making wine and why?
Hmmm... I think I would choose either Oregon, France or Chile.
CWP: What is the best bottle of wine you’ve ever drunk?
I did make a pinot noir a few years ago, though just 17 cases. I still have 12 left, that I am selling right now, and I think that it's very delicious. Though I also have very much enjoyed a 1975 Romanée Conti that was very good and a 1982 Pauillac. Those two are probably the greatest wines that have passed my lips.
CWP: To what style of music would you compare your wine lineup?
Classical, but with some deep violins and bass.
CWP: What do you think consumers should think of when they think about Colorado Wine?
I want them to think that Colorado Wine has come a long way, but now it's time to drink and shop locally.
CWP: Where do you see the Colorado wine industry in 10 years?
We have come a long way, and we are getting better each season. In 10 years I hope that consumers will be able to trust the quality of a wine with "Colorado" on the label, and not assume that Colorado only produces sweet wines.
CWP: What question would you like to ask me and my readers?
What would you like to see happen in Colorado Wine country?