Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Meet the Winemaker: Erik Mohr (Snowy Peaks Winery)

Erik and Candice Mohr
I've only had a Snowy Peaks wine a few times, but each time I was impressed. Their Rhône-style reds and whites are some of the best of their kind in the state. One other they do well is not making a wine for every customer. Instead, they promote their Colorado wine colleagues and sell a selection of wines from other Colorado wineries. I think that this is something other wineries might want to consider. This way, a winery can focus on the wines and styles they are best at producing and support their neighbors by selling theirs wines made from different varieties or in different styles. Be sure to check out Snowy Peaks Winery the next time you find yourself in beautiful Estes Park.

CWP: How did you get into winemaking?

A friend and former business partner gave me the winemaking “virus” on a visit to his new winery in Arizona. After one year of basement wine making, I took the plunge with 700 cases and a small tasting room in a tourist trap of Estes Park, CO. Candice, although not particularly liking wine at the time, was swept up in the crazy idea and warmed to the thought of efficiently running a tasting room. Six years has seen the occasional mistake, huge leaps in knowledge, a doubling of volume, and up and downs of owning a retail business. Making wine is a fascinating process where an endless amount of variables produces a product that will never be duplicated and is constantly evolving. That’s what keeping me interested.

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

Still working full-time as an ecological consultant.

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

Work, play Wii with my son and homework patrol, travel, drink with family and friends, and sleep.

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

Grenache and a sparkling wine.

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

A small country villa in the Rhône Valley, France or Central Otago, NZ. I haven’t been to France, hence the typical romantic vision. The amazing syrah, grenache and mourvedre made there would likely overwhelm the negative realities. I fell in love with the pinot noir and scenery of the south island of New Zealand several years ago on vacation.

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

So far… a pinot noir my friend made while working at David Bruce. It had a personal story, the wine was excellent (I was relatively new to wine, especially well-made pinot), the wine paired perfectly with the main course (by chance), and I was in the company of my family and close friends. A trifecta plus one.

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

We try to produce or carry something for all palates from sweet white to tannin bombs, without judgment. Hence, I imagine a very eclectic style such as what Wilco or DeVotchka produces that relies on traditional and diverse sources of music (country, folk, European gypsy, and rock) to produce a modern, clean arrangement that wouldn’t be mistaken for pop music (jug wines).

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

Unique new flavors and great memories.

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

Slowly (painfully slowly) gaining respect within the state through a drink local movement and improving both the grape growing and winemaking process through education. I don’t think we have enough climatically or economically-viable land available to sustain a movement beyond our borders. Perhaps a rock star, athlete or rich tycoon could take us to the national level whether we deserve it or not.

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

What variety could you most easily pick out as being from Colorado in a blind tasting?

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