Kent Hutchison and his wife, Angela Bryan, are the owners and winemakers of the Continental Divide Winery, which opened in Breckenridge in December 2016 and will be opening a new location in Fairplay sometime in May.
Hutchison and Bryan also have two winemaker/partners in this business, Jeffrey and Ana Maltzman.
Hutchison and Bryan are the Colorado winemakers and the Maltzmans bring wine from their award-winning Navigator winery in California.
Currently the wine for the Breckenridge store is made at a facility between Alma and Fairplay. With the expansion to the location in Fairplay, wine production will be moved to the Fairplay Winery.
The Fairplay site is in the new strip mall next to Prather’s Market on U. S. Highway 285 and will be opening within a week or two.
Also, there will be a grand opening celebration on Memorial Day weekend.
High altitude wine
“We are the highest altitude winery at over 10,000 feet now and in Fairplay we will still be the highest altitude winery at 9,953 feet,” Hutchison said.
“The naturally thin air at our alpine location allows us to create and cellar wines with far less oxidation thereby preserving the natural flavors of the original grapes,” per the winery’s website, www.breckwinery.com.
With wine being made very close to the continental divide, the winery offers customers the opportunity to taste wines from both east and west of the divide (California and Colorado).
The Colorado wines are made from grapes from Palisade.
The California wines are made from grapes from the Napa Valley, Sonoma, and the Maltzman’s own Gold Creek Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills.
In addition to being award-winning, the Maltzman’s Gold Creek winery is completely powered by solar energy and is the smallest winery in the smallest city in California, Amador City.
Doug H. from Seville, Ohio writes on Yelp.com, “Awesome addition for the village. They mix a few of their California and a few of their Colorado wines, and it’s a lot of fun, it’s also fun to go to the highest winery in North America.”
Kri L. from New Orleans, La. writes on Yelp, “What a great experience! Tried a Colorado wine flight with Cabs, Petit Verdot, a blend (winter is coming), and a dessert wine (paired with dark chocolate). I didn’t even know Colorado had vineyards. The wines were smooth and very drinkable. The service was so friendly and knowledgeable. Definitely recommend a visit.”
Wine, wine, and more wine
Hutchison estimates that 3,000 gallons of wine will be made to meet the demand for both Fairplay and Breckenridge locations.
Wine making often brings images of people stomping wine with sweaty bare feet. Hutchison explains that he and his team do not stomp wine, instead they use modern equipment, such as sanitary wine presses.
Since the actual production facility will be in Fairplay, customers will have a chance to see wine being made in the winery.
Wine tasting and wine club
John Bellncula, general manager of the Continental Divide Winery will be overseeing both the Breckenridge and Fairplay properties.
Bellncula encourages everyone to “Come in and try the wines. You can buy a glass, buy bottles and do a flight of wines, which is a chance to taste to wines of assorted flavors, and components in small portions.”
“There are so many flavors and styles, it can be daunting to find out the kind you like,” added Bellncula.
Some people think that wine is serious and snooty, but Bellncula says, “We are real people, we emphasize hospitality. Wine should not be overly serious, it should be fun and relaxing to sharing a glass of wine with friends and family.”
The winery also has a wine club.
“Members of the wine club sign up and agree to take three to four shipments a year of a specific wine. Some is made for club members and some is the selection and members can have it shipped directly to them. Local Colorado members can pick the wine up in the winery and tastings for them area free,” Bellncula said.
Jennifer Rosen, one of Colorado’s best known wine authors and celebrities, wrote, “Wine is for sharing. What’s the fun of swirling, swishing, sloshing and yakking if my friends can’t join in?”
Some Fairplay residents have begun to ask what kind of wine pairing would go best with fresh bison or yak liver and which wine should one carry during the llama race this year?
More information on the Continental Divide Winery can be found at their website, www.breckwinery.com.