Want to get sideways? Boulder’s only one-woman winery ferments grapes for fun, not notoriety.
It’s fall 2010, and Colorado’s grape harvest is among the worst in recent history. Many a vintner is concerned. The supply may not deliver the right goods to craft their specialty vintages. But while some fret over their fermenting tubs, Boulder’s Gussie Walter is taking the poor harvest in stride.
Proprietor of Augustina’s Winery (winechick.biz), the only one-woman winery on the Front Range, 50-year-old Walter is unencumbered by fussy appellations. All of her wines are official table wines, which liberates her to adjust her mélanges to accommodate the grapes available.
“I just can’t get too uptight about wine,” says Walter. “It’s usually the circumstances that make wine enjoyable. Some of the best glasses of wine I’ve had, I can’t tell you what they were, but I can tell you what I was doing and who I was drinking with.”
From her 1,000 square foot winery tucked behind a German auto repair shop in North Boulder, Walter crafts grapes into roughly 1,200 to 1,700 gallons of wine and siphons it by hand into glass bottles with retro-comic-book labels.
Making about 15 different varietals, these table wines are both familiar and unique. Her Boulder Backpacking Wine, a cabernet franc, for instance, is a dry, medium-bodied red with some bold berry flavors. Sipped in the back of her warehouse, the wine is quite pleasing. Imbibed around a campfire with a good friend, it would likely be transformative.
An accidental wine maker, Walter stumbled into the profession in the mid 1990s following the unexpected death of her first husband. Winemaking channeled her grief into physical, rewarding work, and she gave up a geology career to pursue it.
Initially, she struggled to get financial footing, but as she has established herself, she’s grown a loyal following. Turns out, there are many wine lovers who don’t care about the vintage or selectivity. They just want good drinking wines. And Walter wants to deliver.
“If you’re going to be a wine maker, you’re going to work really hard,” she says. “Having decided to do it, I’ve put my all into it.”