Living in Cedaredge, it is so easy for me to hop in the car and head over to the North Fork and West Elks Wine Trail. I love the break from my list of chores and everyday life. It’s like a mini vacation. I have found so many hidden gems and fabulous wineries within an hour of my home. It really has filled my inner desire to get out and explore. However, today I am staying close to home to appreciate a winery that is part of a delicious revolution.
Dave Aschwanden the owner of and wine maker at Chill Switch Wines in Cedaredge, was first introduced to wine making by his family in Lausanne Switzerland. To this day, Lausanne is the Swiss town that has the greatest number of vineyards in the country. Dave’s parents produced some delightful big bodied reds such as Gamay and Pinot Noir.
As a young man, Dave did not immediately jump into winemaking. He was more intrigued by the challenge of fine carpentry and cabinet making. He became a subcontractor working with high end custom home builders. In 2008, new home sales plummeted and so did the demand for cabinet makers. Dave found himself in need of a new career.
Wine making was part of his DNA.
In 2008 he began working at a local winery. The owner became a mentor to Dave and exposed him to the many facets of old world wine making. His “old school” training used very few modern technologies. This style of wine making puts a premium on patience and diligence. Dave continues to use this niche method of wine making. Many wine experts scoffed at Dave’s wine making techniques telling him he couldn’t make decent wine “the natural way” in today’s market. As it turns out, many of the qualities of a cabinet maker transfer well to the art of wine making. Dave likes making wine with his hands and enjoying the satisfaction of seeing things he made himself.
Chill Switch winery allows the wonderful grape varieties and vintages to speak for themselves. All of his grapes come from Palisade and Delta County. His philosophy is not to manipulate or alter the wines. Conventional wine making has become very complicated yet Chill Switch believes in minimal intervention. There are no tannin, color or flavor additives in Chill Switch wines. Hence the term, Zero Zero, has become part of the new wine vocabulary meaning nothing added and nothing taken away.
The first wine Dave poured was his 2018 Riesling. This wine undergoes cold soaking, a technique used to extract more intense flavor and aromas. Notes of crisp apple, grapefruit and peach will jump out of this wine. It is definitely a Delta County Riesling known for its fresh floral whites, crisp yet subtle. Dave likes how this wine cuts through food.
Petite Verdot was next in line. This wine is also put through extended cold soaking. This Chill Switch Petite Verdot has a succulent black fruit flavor that is framed nicely with licorice and caramel. The floral character of lilac and violet appear to fill in the background. Dave describes this wine as fruit forward which means the fruit flavors are dominant and ripe.
Zinfandel is one of my favorite wines. I salute Dave for making a Zinfandel because so little of it is grown in Colorado. Dave’s version displays an excellent balance of tannin, fruit and alcohol. This wine pulled me in. It is a vibrant, juicy, lip smacking treat with notes of dark cherry and rich vanilla. Our host loves to pair it with tomato based Italian dishes. Guests describe the mouthfeel as smooth as glass.
Chill Switch Wines represent a different direction in wine making. Instead of making a lab controlled consistent wine, Chill Switch embraces diversity in wine and the new expanding customer base. It’s OK for wines to introduce new textures, flavors and aromas much like the craft beer industry has done with the traditional beer industry. Dave is looking to open wine drinkers minds to the possibility that what many wine critics tell them is not necessarily gospel and they could be missing and a whole new wine experience. Natural wine is not a fad. You can find Chill Switch Wines in many liquor stores in Cedaredge, Delta and Paonia. To see more of Dave’s story visit, WWW.ChillSwitchWines.com
Chill Switch wines are available for tasting at Main Street Market in Cedaredge. This venue’s vision is to showcase local producers. The owners Wendy Kelsey-Neuman and Steve Kelsey source the freshest quality offerings. Chill Switch Wines are the perfect fit. The Market is open Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. -4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wendy and Steve look forward to pairing their carefully composed cuisine with Chill Switch Wines.
Chill Switch Wines are another example of the amazing diversity in the wine industry. I continue to encourage you to explore and the unique and creative wines we have in Delta County, West Elks Wine Trail and North Fork Valley. I promise the ride will be worth it.