We arrived at Leroux Creek Vineyards on a sunny mid-morning and were greeted by Bon Bon and Piaf, two interested Corgis. The vineyards ramble to the Southwest. An early 70s vintage MG sits in the driveway.
“I guess I’m a bit of an Anglophile,” says wine maker Yvon Gros, who with his wife Joanna of Leroux Creek Vineyards on Rogers Mesa. “Come in and let’s talk for a few minutes then I have to get back to stomping grapes.”
Gros, who grew up in the Provence region of France, told us that the North Fork Valley resembles his boyhood home, one of the finest wine producing areas of the world.
“It strongly resembles the Coulon Valley right down to the rivers and the rolling countryside,” he said, showing off a substantial collection of maps and reference materials on the subject such as An American Provence , which favorably compares the two regions.
“Actually I came to Colorado to play golf and ski and this happened.”
The future wine maker arrived in Vail in 1973 where his brother lived, intent on pursuing his passion for cooking. He worked at several of the leading establishments and embraced the ski all day – work all night philosophy.
“In the summer it was golf and in the winter it was skiing,” he explained. “Somewhere in between I carved out a career.”
Gros grew up in Lac d’ Annency, one of 7 children, during World War II. He pulls out a thick, somewhat intimidating recipe book.
“This is the book that my mother used every day. There would be 7 children at the table but when another showed up at dinnertime she would invite them to sit and join us. She was an exceptional woman. She taught me the love of cooking.”
Later Yvon studied French Classic Cuisine at Thonon Les-Baines Culinary School in Savoie and interned at Liond’or near Lake Geneva.
Yvon’s partner, Joanna, was a clothing designer, and a graduate of the Fashon Institute of Technology in New York City. She has developed a signature line of skin care products based on grape seed extract. The inn reflects the elegance of Joanna’s design touch. Leroux Creek Spa, the signature line of Grape Seed Extract skin care products, available online, at the Inn and in speciality locations.
“But now we should have something to eat, some wine to drink,” he smiled pulling a cutting board chocked with olives, prosciutto, gorgonzola and brie, gherkins, French bread and freshly made pate’. Along with the fare, originating with local organic farmers in the neighborhood came a bottle of Chambourcin, his flagship vintage.
Leave it to the French to present an elegant feast to highlight a morning interview that has now stretched into the noon hour.
“Wherever apricots and peaches thrive so will grapes,” said Gros filling our glasses with his robust red wine. “The terroir is defined by the volcanic soil and the climate. The grapes can handle the cold.”
The Chambourin goes well with beef, pork and lamb. Before the naturally grown grapes are ready they undergo oak barrel aging and strict monitoring so as to insure consistency throughout the process.
“Maybe I’ll make a sparkling wine next,” he laughed, “but right now there are grapes to stomp.”
Gros told us that although his inn is upscale there are plenty of people out there searching for just this kind of experience. The natural beauty blends with the delicious food and exceptional wine.
“It’s fun to see our guests get excited about the place,” he said. We offer a bed and breakfast with so much more.”
– Kevin Haley