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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meet the Winemaker: Parker Carlson (Carlson Vineyards)

Parker Carlson
Parker Carlson is an icon of the Colorado wine industry. Carlson Vineyards is one of the oldest continuously operating winery in the state. Started in 1988, Carlson Vineyards is known for its locally themed wine names. As the proprietors are "cat people," they offer a three lines of wines with the monikers Fat Cat, Laughing Cat and Cougar Run. Parker also has fun (he has quite a sense of humor as you may gather from the interview...) with western Colorado's geologic history by branding his Lemberger, Tyranosaurus Red. Despite the negative associations with the unfortunately named Lemberger, T-Red is one of the more popular local wines in the state. But what Carlson Vineyards is best known for is its Riesling. In 2004, their 2003 Riesling was declared the World Riesling Champion at the International Eastern Wine Competition. If you like Austrian and German grape varieties (riesling, Gewürztraminer or Lemberger (Blaufränkisch)), Carlson Vineyards should be on your list of wines to buy!


CWP: How did you get into winemaking?

I bought a house in Denver in the 1970s that had some old apple trees on it and started to make hard apple cider. Then I transferred over to Grand Junction in 1977 with Coors Ceramic company and bought a house in Palisade. The winemaking hobby went wild due to the availability of all the fruit (hardly any wine grapes back then, although there were some). The hobby kind of took over the house and Mary, my wife, got tired of me saying how much fun it would be to have a winery and that it was time to put up or shut up. So we bought the land where the winery is and planted 2 acres of Riesling grapes, refurbished the old packing shed, took a deep breath and applied for our Federal and State permits.

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

Well, my dream job would be to be a piano player in a cat house (the four-legged kind). As you know, music soothes the savage beast. It would be a cat rescue mission. Of course I would have to learn how to play the piano, but that is a miner problem. I can just see it now, some long-legged blond cat draped over the piano as I play and maybe even croon some torch song. Or maybe I would just be retired thinking about all the things I never did or maybe could do in the future.

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

Think about the winery. Read. Sell wine in Wisconsin for four days and then spend 4 weeks fishing in Northern Wisconsin. Fester. Eat. Think about fishing in Wisconsin. Did I say eat?

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

Cryogenic Cherry. Petite Sirah. Cherry/Peach blend. Rutabaga wine for our fans in the upper Midwest to drink with their pasties (pronounced pass-tees).

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

New Zealand. I like lamb. Or maybe Germany so that I could show them what really good Lemberger is all about. Plus, its hard to beat a really good authentic schnitzel.

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

We did not drink the bottle but the best wine I have ever tasted was a French Burgundy that I tasted with Erik Brunner (along with about 200 other people) at a UC-Davis class. I wrote down the name, but I no longer can find the note. The entire class went silent when it was poured. The closest I have come to that "Oh My God!, That's what this is all about!" moment. They then poured a major winery pinot noir from California and we were brought back down to the real world.

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

Swing from the 30's and 40's. Or the anthem for National Food Day.

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

Other than naked people convorting in a giant pile? Perhaps they should think about how lucky they are to be in Colorado and have access to such wonderful wine. Maybe they should be thinking about the greatest gift they have ever gotten--another day of living.

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

Still here in Colorado. A little bigger, a little better.


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

What can I do to entice you to come visit the winery?

1 comment:

  1. When wineries consistently make high-quality wine I enjoy visiting. I have no doubt that I'll keep visiting Carlson Vineyards...

    ReplyDelete