I never realized that Purgatory existed in Parker Colorado. But we were told there was this little winery that makes some terrific wines and that it would be worth our time to stop and have a tasting. On a hot Sunday afternoon we decided to do just that and were we glad we did.
Purgatory isn't easy to find. Parker is about 26 miles from downtown Denver and the winery is off the mainstream- Parker Rd - in a little strip mall area. The signage faces the internal parking lot - not the main street so we missed it at first.
The tasting room and production facilities are housed in the same building. The winery is known for creating some interesting combinations and blends but what they are going to be known for is something called the amphora process - more on that later.
They have won a number of awards for their creations and we decided to taste a few.
The grapes they use are all from Colorado....western slope. It was an area that was becoming popular for its wine production in the early 1900's until Prohibition when the vines were replaced with peach trees. The Palisade area is well known for their peaches...but wine is making a comeback and the grapes they are producing are used by many local wineries across the state like Purgatory....but here is why THIS little place is unique.
Marko Copic is the CEO and owner. He and his wife and just a few more employees have brought the Amphora process of wine making from Europe to Colorado. I had never heard of the Amphora process so learning about a different way to make wine was special and he walked us through it.
Before barrels came into being during Greek and Roman times wine was made using CLAY POTS. As wine production moved to barrels, casks and tanks the process changed and sulfur was added to prevent the wines from oxidizing...to keep wine from spoiling. Natural Clay prevents the oxidation without have to use any additives. It is a more natural process that can be used during fermentation but it is more difficult to employ on a large scale.
Marko had the amphora clay pots shipped from Europe. They are fragile. He ordered eight but four were destroyed during the transport. The pots come in different sizes but the ones he uses in production I believe he said hold about 500 gallons each.
The wine will stay in the pots depending on the type of grape (red or white they can be used for both) until they decide to complete the bottling. We sampled a couple of different amphora wines and the smoothness was amazing. There wasn't the same alcohol aftertaste that sometimes accompanies wine. It was almost as if they were finished with a smoother liqueur. Devine.
Then he let us sample the most unique wine they have. It is a "sparkling amphora". Apparently there are only about three (3) places in the US that make a sparkling wine in the amphora process. It was outstanding !!!!!!!!! It will be a special celebratory offering in our house.
Purgatory Cellars Winery is a small facility. It is a very labor intensive undertaking and as you can imagine the wines aren't cheap.....but they are good!!! They recently added a new bottling machine which will allow them to increase production four fold. They offer a charcuterie plate wine meats, cheeses, some fruits and crackers but they do not have a restaurant - yet. They are also opening another tasting room with food service in Castlerock and plans are to open another one in the Denver area later.
We had a delightful time including talking with Marko where he gave us a quick tour and learning about the amphora process. It was a wonderful "wine tasting" experience.
If you ever find you self in Parker Colorado..........enjoy !!!!