Local winemaker finds great success with Malbec grape

By: Cecile Juliette Email
By: Cecile Juliette Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Tyrel Lawson didn't grow up thinking he'd be in the business of winemaking. He was raised in Glade Park, where his parents own a ranch. In high school, he got a job at Two Rivers Winery, where he learned all about the industry. Lawson kept the job as he attended Mesa State College.

While at Two Rivers, he heard about Colorado's new law, Alternating Propriotorship. Lawson says it's a fairly common practice in Oregon and California, but it was only passed in Colorado two years ago. Under the Alternating Proprioatorship law, different companies can use the same premises and winemaking materials. Lawson approached Bob and Billie Witham, owners of Two Rivers, and they agreed to allow Lawson to use Two Rivers to produce wine under the Kahil Wine label.

Lawson says, "what it means is that I have my own bonded storage area, my own winery license, everything you would need to be a winery. The only difference is that I alternate premises with Two Rivers Winery so I'm making my wine in the same tanks, utilizing the barrel room, I have a section that's alternated with me, so when my wine is being made, techinally that area is leased to Kahil Winery."

Lawson chose to use the Malbec grape, first grown in France, and then widely-produced in South America. He buys the Malbec grape from a grower in Orchard Mesa. Lawson says he chose the Malbec because he wanted to be part of what he calls a 'niche market' in Colorado. He says, "it works out that the growing region they have here is similar to Argentina and Chile."

Kahil Wine's label features a flyfishing lure. Lawson said that he had always heard that when marketing a product, the product-maker should always choose something close to the heart, and represents the region. He says he's an avid angler, and fly fishing represents Colorado. Lawson is engaged to a woman named Katherine, a name he incorporated into Kahil.

Lawson says he's only been producing and selling Malbec wine for 3 months, and he's already sold out on his entire half-year production. A representative from Cottonwood Liquors says he's developed quite a fan base. She says several people come in and buy it buy the case.

Kahil's Malbec Wine took a bronze medal at the Colorado Governor's cup in July, and a double gold medal at last year's Colorado Mountain Winefest.

You can find Kahil's Malbec Wine at Cottonwood Liquors, Fisher's Liquor Barn, Crossroads Wine and Spirits, La Dolce Vida, and The Winery, on Main Street.


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