New winery opens in Windsor, Colo., with focus on Colorado-grown fruit | TheFencePost.com

New winery opens in Windsor, Colo., with focus on Colorado-grown fruit

Nikki Work

For 10 years, Ryan Carroll has been making alcohol out of anything he can get his hands on. He can make wines out of strawberries, raspberries and even beets. But his favorite things to juice and ferment are gooseberries.

The little green berries used to be called fuzzy grapes, Carroll said, but unlike grapes, they grow great in Colorado's unpredictable climate. He has gooseberry bushes planted in several wooden barrels outside the winery he and his wife just opened in Windsor, called Forgotten Roots, 624 Main St. Once spring comes, he plans to plant several more bushes in the bare plot of land out back. The Carrolls also grow the fruit at their home in Greeley.

Since he'll be producing plenty of them, gooseberries will be a staple in the quirky wines produced at Forgotten Roots, which opened at the beginning of March.

It's not that Carroll has anything against traditional grape wine. He just prefers to make his wine from other ingredients. Mostly, he uses fruits, like cherries, the wild plums he and his wife picked from the Poudre Canyon, or the rhubarb their neighbors gave them in gallon-sized plastic bags. He can use vegetables to make some pretty delicious recipes, though, he said. Carrots, peas or asparagus can all replace the grape.

Once spring comes, the Carrolls will plant more fruit trees and bushes in the back behind the winery, creating a yard from which they can source ingredients. Windsor's zoning requirements mandate a certain ratio of shade trees to non-shade trees, so Carroll had to find a fruit tree to plant that grew higher than 30 feet. He chose mulberry trees. He'll grow several of those, plum trees, kiwi fruits, gooseberries and raspberries, as well as hops over a trellis in the back lot.

"I'm trying to make this land as productive as possible," he said. "It's pretty small, but with small batch wine it makes sense."

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That's the way they've always done things. The Carrolls grow apples, berries and hops at their home in Greeley, which Carroll has used in his homebrews for 10 years. Carroll and his parents also keep bees in Fort Collins, and will use that honey to sweeten their mead.

For the things they can't grow, they try to source as locally as possible. If Carroll can't find a farmer to buy direct from, he'll try LoCo Foods Distribution, a company based out of Fort Collins that connects producers and purchasers. When Carroll opens the industrial sized freezer in his shed, he pulls out a large bag of Colorado-grown peaches the distribution company brought him.

Elizabeth Mozer, the founder of Loco Food Distribution, said that helping businesses like Forgotten Roots is a key piece of their business model.

"The purpose and mission of LoCo Food Distribution is to bring local food to the mainstream marketplace," Mozer said. "Bringing ingredients to the makers is one of the most important parts of that equation because it means that more local ingredients are making it into our locally made products."

Customers at Forgotten Roots won't be able to taste the juice of Carroll's favorite gooseberry wine — fuzz not included — until May at the earliest when the first batches of Forgotten Roots' homebrewed wine is finished. That's because each batch takes up to a few months to ferment completely. Until then, the Carrolls are serving other local wine, cider and mead, like recipes from their neighbors in Severance, Hunter's Moon Meadery.

And since Carroll brews everything by hand and from scratch in small batches, he can try anything once, whether it's an apple wine or a batch made from parsley. He takes his cues from the pioneers, who used to make alcohol from whatever they had on hand.

"That's where our name, Forgotten Roots came from," he said. "We're trying to revitalize the old tradition." ❖

Forgotten Roots wine tasting

Windsor folks got a taste of wine and wisdom March 8 at the Clearview Library. Forgotten Roots, a new winery in town, held a tasting at the library as part of the adult programming.

Gil and Debbi Uhrich of Severance came to the tasting. Gil works for Apex Pavement and learned about Forgotten Roots by paving the parking lot of the place.

“It was a very good presentation,” Gil said. “I really liked the mini samples.”

Debbie liked it, too.

“They had light snacks and historical information,” Debbie said. “This was the first time I’d been to a presentation of a local product. I’m going to sign up for one of (Forgotten Roots’) classes. It’ll be a great place to bring people.”

Betty Watrous of Windsor also attended the tasting.

“I thought all the wines were good,” Watrous said. “There was quite a variety. Ryan explained the varieties and their history.”

Her favorite was the Sangria.

About 35 people turned up to taste and learn the history behind some local wine.

Ryan Carroll, owner of Forgotten Roots, thought the turn out was good.

“We’ve kept advertising small,” Carroll said. “We want to make sure we do it right.”

— Kelly Ragan

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More info

Forgotten Roots is located at 624 Main St. in Windsor. For more information on the winery, call (970) 686-5301, go to http://www.forgottenrootswinery.com or like the winery’s Facebook page at facebook.com/forgottenrootswinery.

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