Richard and Tracy Crockett are smuggling grapes into Englewood and showing the result at their Ladrón Cellars
tasting room, which opened November 5 at 11435 East Briarwood Avenue.
The name Ladrón translates to “thief” in Spanish, a nod to the fact that the grapes used here are thoughtfully sourced from various vineyards throughout California’s central coast as well as western Colorado. “It’s always been about focusing on finding the fruit that would produce the style we like,” Tracy says, which means investing time into research and tasting.
The couple first introduced their wines at various wine festivals and farmers' markets while still working full-time jobs in IT. “Both of us just had a passion for actually creating something you could be proud of,” Tracy notes, adding that it’s “way more fun than IT."
They also traveled extensively to taste and learn more about winemaking, taking trips to New Zealand; Mosel River and Kaiserstuhl in Germany; the Rhône Valley (Hermitage, Côte Rôtie and Chiateauneuf-du-Pape) and Burgundy in France; and all over Washington state.
From the California vineyards, the Crocketts mainly source Rhone varietals such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, as well as Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. From the Western Slope, the focus is on Bordeaux grapes for reds — Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc — and Viognier for white wine. “We are sourcing from some really amazing vineyards,” Richard says — twelve in total, including Rancho Boa Vista Vineyards, Bien Nacido, G2, Defiance, Glenrose, Zaca Mesa, Jada and Colorado’s own BookCliff Vineyards.
Ladrón Cellars sources grapes from various vineyards in central California and western Colorado.
The couple's goal is to show examples of wine styles that people may not gravitate toward and to broaden an individual's wine experience. For example, while oak is used in the process at Ladrón Cellars, it’s not as intense as other wines out there. “I believe that our style of Rhône Valley varietals — Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre — provide the traditional fruit-forward wine that is not hidden by oak aging,” Richard says. “The grapes present not just the great dark fruits notes, but other aromas such as licorice, beef jerky, dusty cola, salinity and baking spices.” These aromas are very concentrated in Rhône Valley varietals, which are very different than traditional Cabernet Sauvignon blends or Pinot Noir, he explains.
The artwork on all of the bottles is done by Phil Lear from Colorado Springs. Richard talks about the wine with Phil, who then is able to create an amazing painting to capture it and bring it all together.
The Crocketts are clearly doing something right; they received a Silver Medal from the Colorado Governors Cup for their White Wine Blend, Evidence. Two other wines, Graffiti and Grafter, received 90-point ratings from wine critic Jeb Dunnuck.
Ladrón Cellars offers a variety of flights as well as various events in its tasting room.
The urban tasting room brings the winery to the city. “You can drop by on a Wednesday and still get that full experience," Richard says. They describe the tasting room as very elegant but comfortable, with a modern mountain vibe. There’s a large dog-friendly patio with mountain views as well as tours, live music, yoga, charcuterie classes and a space to hold private events.
Ladrón Cellars offer flights, which is an ideal way to try something new. “It’s almost inevitable [a guest will] say, 'I never tasted a white wine like that,'” Tracy notes.
Bites from Yayas Euro Bistro
in DTC are available to accompany to vino. “They create meat and cheese pairings for our wine flights that show just how much food can complement and change the taste of wine together,” Richard says.
Grifter, for example, has notes of pepper, wood, currant, leather, tobacco and cherry and pairs with a soft herbed pressed goat cheese. Graffiti is accompanied by gorgonzola cheese, Kalamata olives and spiced walnuts. Stowaway is described as a very spicy dry wine thanks to the Syrah and Petite Sirah grapes from the warmer Paso Robles climate. “This one is begging for a triple cream like a super soft brie on a crostini," Richard notes. "Let this wine do the talking and let the brie bring the texture needed to tantalize the palette.”
Ladrón Cellars is located at 11435 East Briarwood Avenue in Englewood, and is open from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit ladroncellars.com.