By Melanie Mazur :: Times Editor
Article Last Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2015 2:35pm
Foxfire Farms can compete with the big boys.
Winning a Best in Show at the Colorado State Fair is the 2012 Marquette from Foxfire Farms, shown here in the Ignacio tasting room. Winning a Best in Show at the Colorado State Fair is the 2012 Marquette from Foxfire Farms, shown here in the Ignacio tasting room. Originally a sheep ranch, and still the home to sheep and cattle herds, Foxfire Farms features a picture of a sheep on every wine bottle. Grapevines that can survive Colorado winters produce fruit for award-winning wines. The Ignacio farm won the best of show overall award in the Colorado State Fair in commercial judging for their 2012 Marquette wine. The results were announced Aug. 18.
The Marquette also won best of show for commercial red wine.
"We are La Plata County's only commercial vineyard and winery, and we grow the grapes and make the wine right here," owner Richard Parry said.
The small farm beat out such wine giants as Gallo and Barefoot Cellars. The state fair is open to all competitors, he explained, not just those who raise grapes or produce wine in Colorado.
Marquette is a new cold-climate hybrid that won this year's award against traditional grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The winery also won a silver medal for a 2014 Traminette, another cold-climate hybrid, and a bronze medal for its 2014 Riesling.
Last year, the winery won a silver for its Cabernet made from grapes grown in Grand Junction.
Growing grapes in Southwest Colorado is a challenge because of the high altitude, cold nights and freezing winter temperatures, Parry explained. It took him three years of tending vines to produce the first Marquette grapes, then another two years to age the wine.
Those challenges, however, cultivate a grape with thicker skin, which is beneficial in winemaking, and the grapes also have higher levels of resveratrol, an anti-oxidant.
The benefit of the higher-altitude grapes is a well-balanced wine with intense concentration, body and flavor, he said.
He started raising grapes 11 years ago on his family's sheep ranch.
"Let's see if this works here," he said, trying the grape growing it on a whim.
Foxfire wines are available at area liquor stories, including Bayfield Liquor and Wells Liquor in Ignacio, and Rocky Mountain General Store and Vallecito Liquors inside the Vallecito Country Market.