The People: Both Brent Helleckson—a Boulder-based aerospace engineer—and his wife Karen grew up on farms. They always knew they wanted to own their own piece of land one day, and since acreage around Boulder was prohibitively expensive, they widened their search across the state. The pair discovered—and became smitten with—the town of Paonia during a raft trip. So when a gorgeous parcel seeded by a few grapes came up for sale, the longtime hobbyist winemakers jumped at the chance to buy it.
The Space: The Hellecksons literally built Stone Cottage Cellars from the ground up. Stone by stone, the couple laid the foundation of the original cottage, where their family lived, with rocks cleared from the fields. Just steps from the vines, their quaint tasting room is built from the same stone and locally harvested wood in a spectacular setting overlooking the gorgeous North Fork Valley.
The Grapes: Stone Cottage Cellars’ grapes are all sourced from western Colorado, including several varietals grown organically on their own land. Thanks to their 6,200-foot-plus elevation, the winery produces some of the world’s highest grapes, which have particularly crisp and intense flavors. This signature is especially evident in the Chardonnay, which has strong hints of lemon and lime and a pleasantly tart acidity.
The Wine: Karen and Brent’s philosophy is that wine is meant to complement delicious food, so they often experiment with new pairings in their kitchen. Their website features a number of recipes like Acorn Squash Ravioli with Rosemary Cream Sauce, whose rich flavors pair well with the smoky taste of their 2012 Pinot Noir Trio, a blend of grapes grown at three locations that were fermented separately before being blended together.