By Carole McWilliams :: Times Senior Staff Writer
Photo by Carole McWilliams
Richard and Linda Parry display some of Foxfire Farm's awards from past wine competitions. Two varieties won medals at the Colorado State Fair on Friday. Foxfire Farms' Traminette white wine is a double gold winner in this year's Governor's Cup competition for Colorado wines and the only white wine on the double gold list. Awards were presented yesterday in Denver.
Foxfire Farms adds an acre of grapes to its vineyard every year and now grows several varieties of grapes.
The gardens leading to the Foxfire Farms tasting room are full of flowers and bees.
Foxfire's 2014 Marquette red wine was awarded a silver medal. The competition is organized by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, part of the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The competition drew 250 entries from 32 in-state wineries. It included mead and cider as well as wine. Last year, the Foxfire Traminette from 2014 won a 2015 Governor's Cup award for best in Colorado wine. Foxfire, located southeast of Ignacio, is the only commercial winery in La Plata County.
"This is our seventh year of producing wine," owner Richard Parry said. "I do the wine making. I've done many different things. It's a personality type, always looking for a new idea." They planted the first grape vines in 2004 and made the first wine in 2009, he said. "We had a lot of trouble finding grapes that would grow here because of the cool climate. We spent several years finding ones that would grow here."
They plant one acre of grapes every year and now have eight acres in grapes, he said. It takes three years for vines to start producing. "For red wine, you have to age it for two years, so that's five years on the first vintage of red wine," Parry said.
"The first problem is to find grapes that would grow. The next challenge is to make a good wine." His Marquette red wine from 2013, aged two years, was an overall Best of Show winner and Best of Show for commercial wine at the Colorado State Fair in 2015. State fair entries aren't limited to Colorado wineries. "These are called climate hybrids. The red came from the University of Minnesota, and the white came from Cornell University in upstate New York," Parry said of his grape varieties.
He now produces wine from six varieties grown on the farm, with the seventh and eighth varieties coming this fall. They produce another five wine varieties with grapes they purchase, such as from Palisade, or from grape juice. The winery is open to the public from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday now through Oct. 31. There is live music on the winery patio, along with wine and food from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays now through September. From Nov. 1 to April 30 the winery is open by appointment at 563-4675.
Foxfire is also a producing ranch. A business of direct shipping the farm's grass fed meat in frozen packages to customers around the country was discontinued in 2010 because of the growing wine operation. "I couldn't keep all the balls in the air," Parry said of the direct ship meat business. Richard and wife Linda Parry still have all their sheep and other livestock and sell through conventional markets.
Foxfire Farms will be honored as a Centennial Farm later this month at the State Fair, for being owned and operated by descendants of the same families for 100 years.
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