ST. GEORGE — Southern Utah will be home to a new winery this spring when the Bold and Delaney Winery opens their tasting room in Dammeron Valley.
The winery will be located in the Dammeron Valley Vineyards at 1316 N. Horsemans Park Drive, where they will harvest the grapes for their wine.
The vineyards are owned by Mark and Mary Bold, who have been growing wine grapes on the property for the past six years.
Mark Bold first learned the art of growing wine grapes when he began taking care of his aging father-in-law’s 150 grapevines several years ago. Currently there are around 9,000 grapevines with 11 different varietals growing on the Bolds’ 12-acre vineyard in Dammeron Valley. Until now, the vineyard has been used to grow grapes for Mark Bold’s personal wine, several bottles of which he recently entered in the Utah Wine Competition at IG Winery in Cedar City.
“We’ve gotten some experience in it, and every year we get a little better,” he said.
Bold is partnering with John Delaney to create the Bold and Delaney Winery. Delaney is a part-owner and sommelier at the Painted Pony in St. George, which is where the two first met.
“I’ve always felt like I wanted to be part of this,” Delaney said. “Working a vineyard, seeing what it’s like, get hands on. And then I just fell in love with it.”
The pair hopes to break ground on the winery before Labor Day, and if all goes well, they plan to finish it by April 30.
The winery will feature a tasting room and barrel cellar, and limited tours of the vineyards may be offered. They also hope to offer the picturesque vineyard as a venue for weddings and other events.
“It’s just going to be another avenue to show the wines,” Delaney said, “and give people an opportunity to sit outside of a vineyard and get that feeling, that relaxation that comes with being in a place like this.”
Delaney is currently working with Bold’s daughter and local artist Carol Bold to design a logo and label for the winery.
The wine they produce will primarily be sold to restaurants, like the Painted Pony, which was recently recognized by the Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards for their wine selection.
Mark Bold said he expects that their production start with between 200 and 500 cases of wine, which will increase over time.
They plan to start outselling four varietals of wine. Depending on the year’s production, they will likely produce a petite sirah, sauvignon blanc, muscat and either a grenache or a tempranillo, Delaney said.
“The varietals are so different, but they do speak, and that’s when we can figure out exactly what our expression is,” he said. “They will all have a sense about them and that sense is Dammeron Valley.”
Dammeron Valley has proven to be a good location for grape growing, Bold said. The area’s climate is typically cooler than many of its surrounding communities, and the soil contains volcanic particulates and quaternary sediments, both of which allow the soil to drain, which grapevines need.
The soil is also free from certain diseases that plague grapevines in other vineyards in places like Colorado, said Michael Caron, a horticulturalist and associate professor of extension from Utah State University who is assisting Bold and Delaney in best management practices for their agriculture-based business.
Because their soil is disease-free, they practice a technique known as “own-rooting” instead of buying plants from a grower. In own-rooting, they take the buds from a vine and place it in a bag with sawdust and water. After the bud grows roots, it can be planted in the vineyard.
Because Southern Utah has good soil and climate for grape growing, more people have begun to expand their operations to the area, Caron said, though very few wineries in the area grow, make and sell the wine all in the same place like Bold and Delaney.
“People are now starting to realize that, if we can get the water, it’s an area where there’s really good soil, the climate is really good,” Caron said. “The potential for it here is huge.”
Wine making was more widely practiced in Utah about 100 years ago, Caron said. Back then, there were over 600 acres of grapes in production in Washington County alone. Now there are only around 40 acres of commercial vineyards.
A large part of the reason wine making has become so rare in Utah has to do with the state’s laws when it comes to making and distributing alcohol.
“Part of the problem with wine production in Utah generally has just been the state has liquor laws that are kind of disfavorable. It hasn’t been estate friendly to the industry,” Caron said. “That’s gradually changing, because more and more people are coming in from other parts of the country where this is more part of their lifestyle. … It really could be a beautiful viable industry.”
Caron, Delaney and Bold have all been working as part of a larger effort for Southern Utah to be a recognized area for growing and making wine. For several years, Bold and Delaney have even been working toward establishing it as an American Viticultural Area, which requires a certain number of vines and acreage, among other things.
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