Utah Vagabond

Utah travel, things to see and good eats

Recent Comments

  1. mark b on Shotgun Start
    6/12/2013
  2. Piper at Her Ace in the Hole on Where I Take a Moment for Shameless Self Promotion
    6/1/2013
  3. Piper at Her Ace in the Hole on Where Nature is Delicious
    6/1/2013
  4. Utah Vagabond on Here kitty, kitty: Utah Snowcat Skiing
    5/31/2013
  5. Greg Vaughan on Here kitty, kitty: Utah Snowcat Skiing
    5/24/2013
  6. Piper on Hitting the Reboot Button in Las Vegas
    4/4/2013
  7. Piper on A Living Tribute
    4/4/2013
  8. Her Ace in the Hole on The 'Bird is the Word
    2/12/2013
  9. Mary Flinn Ware on Like the Olympics, Only Better
    2/5/2013
  10. Pete on Cross-country Skiing the Uintas
    12/27/2012

Subscribe Via Email


Recent Posts

  1. Heat Wave Respite
    Tuesday, July 02, 2013
  2. Art is Cool, Just Ask My Kid
    Thursday, June 20, 2013
  3. Shotgun Start
    Monday, June 10, 2013
  4. Girl Power
    Monday, June 03, 2013
  5. Where Nature is Delicious
    Thursday, May 30, 2013
  6. Ode to My Favorite Summer Concert Venue
    Thursday, May 23, 2013
  7. Where I Take a Moment for Shameless Self Promotion
    Thursday, May 09, 2013
  8. Pedal Pusher
    Monday, April 29, 2013
  9. Happy Trails
    Monday, April 22, 2013
  10. My Favorite Zion Wine
    Friday, April 12, 2013

Monthly Archives

UTAHVAGABOND.COM

Heat Wave Respite


Today's view from Snowbird into Mary Ellen Gulch en route to Mt. Baldy.

In case you've failed to turn on the news lately, the West is SIZZLING. It hit 103 in downtown Salt Lake City yesterday and is 102 as I type these words at 7 p.m.

Ugh.

Neither one of my kids had camps today, so rather than sit inside the house prying the electronics from their fingers all day I shooed them both into the car and headed up to Snowbird to hike Mt. Baldy.

Mt. Baldy is located up Little Cottonwood Canyon along the boundary between Snowbird and Alta ski resorts. The easiest and shortest way to access the Baldy summit (in both winter and summer) is by riding the Snowbird Tram to Hidden Peak.


Note the thermometer: a full 30 degrees cooler than the temp at my canyon mouth house.   


The route to Baldy is visible as soon as you step off the Tram. Simply follow the signs for Chips Run down to the saddle just above the Peruvian Chairlift. The trail leading to Mt. Baldy's summit winds up the almost treeless mountain in front of you. A wet spring followed by an virtually no precipitation in June has brought on some early-blooming wildflowers. Here's a sample of what we saw along the trail.







By the way: If you can identify any of these plants (Besides the Indian paintbrush, which even I know.), would you please drop me an email? I couldn't find even one in the North America wildflower guide/dust collector I have.

The entire hike, including riding the Tram up and down and plenty of leisurely stops for Gatorade and Cheez-Its along the trail, took about two hours. Be forewarned however: this trail is very rocky making sturdy hiking shoes a must. And exposure at a couple of points might make those afraid of heights a little queasy. Overall however, the two-mile out and back hike from Hidden Peak to Mt. Baldy Summit is a fun and satisfying walk for most big kids through adults. For Snowbird Tram hours and ticket pricing click here.

Art is Cool, Just Ask My Kid


Artist Maggie Willis made Momma and the many other monsters lurching the grounds within the
Utah Arts Festival Art Yard.


One of my favorite summertime events, the Utah Arts Festival, got underway today in downtown Salt Lake City. I look forward to it every year because not only is the art showcased, well, bonafide art (Versus the crafts pedaled at many other art festivals.), but also every year event organizers do a great job creating a festive, fly-your-freak-flag party atmosphere with killer live entertainment, yummy food vendors and very cool, high-quality kids activities. Best yet, kids 12 and under get in FREE every day of the four-day event. Highs were predicted to reach only the mid-70s today, perfect conditions to take my daughter Meredith and her friend Heidi downtown to give our brains' right side a little work out. Our first stop: the Art Yard.

 
Meredith and Heidi make pom pom bugs at the
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art's Art Yard tent.
 

The Art Yard is full of activities to get the festival's youngest patrons down and dirty with art. Kids can "spruce up" the Gigantic Momma Monster near the entrance to the Art Yard with paint and toilet paper. Mini monsters scattered elsewhere in the yard need kids to add arms, legs and other body parts as well. Break every mom's rule by coloring and writing on the walls, furniture and carpets in the Art Yard's Living Room of Mischief. A number of area nonprofits are also in the Art Yard to help the kids create. Try out an instrument the Summerhays Music Center’s Instrument Petting Zoo. Monstrous mask making is marvelous, too, courtesy of Art Access and the Utah Youth Village. Tracy Aviary is on hand to help kids build a fantasy flying beast, and at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art booth kids can make a Beehive State bee out of pipe cleaners. Monster Claws and more are assembled with the help of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah Youth Village and the Visual Art Institute.

Even the littlest kids can get in on the action in the Art Yard Toddler Zone, programmed with age 4-and-under activities and outfitted with a convenient diaper changing tent. And kid-centric performers provide both music and lots of belly laughs on the Art Yard stage every day from 1 - 7 p.m.


Rock, Paper and Scissors yuck it up for the crowd Thursday on the Art Yard Stage.

Though both Meredith and Heidi got a kick out of the Art Yard activities what they really dug--and what Meredith had come for expressly--were the hat making and face painting tents, located just outside the Art Yard.


Meredith sits patiently as an Utah Arts Festival volunteer gives her a puppy dog face.

Though these activities aren't free, they are definitely worth the minimal charge. ($5 for face painting; $4 to make a hat.) Funds raised at the face painting and hat making tents go directly back into the Utah Arts Festival. Small price to pay for a one-of-a-kind Utah Arts Festival souvenir if you ask me.


Heidi and Meredith working on their hats at the Utah Arts Festival Mad Hatter tent.


The gifted artists model their finished pieces.

If you go: Be sure to wear sunscreen, carry a water bottle and bring cash. (ATMs are located throughout the festival but charge $3.50 per transaction.) If things get too steamy (Temps are predicted to rise into the 80s on Friday and Saturday and up to 90 on Sunday.) take advantage of being downtown to check out other kid-friendly attractions: the Main Library's lower level juvenile section is a great place to debrief with a good book. And your Utah Arts Festival ticket gets you into the Leonardo during the duration of the festival for free. 

The Utah Arts Festival runs through Sunday, June 23 at Salt Lake City's Library Square (400 South 200 East) from noon to 11 p.m. Daily admission is $12 for adults; kids age 12 and under are free. A lunch time special pass is available for adults on Friday (valid from noon to 3 p.m.) for $6. For entertainment and artist details visit uaf.org.



Shotgun Start


Log swing break, Temple Quarry Trail, Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Last Friday was my kids' last day of school. Remember what a great day that was when you were 8 and 10? Almost like Christmas or a birthday. We didn't intend to jam pack summer break's first official weekend, but that's exactly how it turned out. And in hindsight I realize how well those two days illustrate Salt Lake City's unparalleled mountain access, which is why I decided to share our adventures here.




Meredith flipping out on Snowbird's bungee trampoline.

My husband works at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort which kicked off its summer activities (The alpine slide, kids' bounce houses, mountain flyer, scenic Tram rides and bungee trampolines.) on Saturday. On Friday evening, however, the resort generously opened the activities to employees and their families. We took a spin on the alpine slide and mountain flyer and then headed over to the resort's Lodge Bistro restaurant for a really delicious dinner. Afterward Dave headed home with the kids while I headed further up the canyon to a poetry reading as part of Writer's@Work, a writing conference hosted annually by the University of Utah's stellar creative writing department at the Alta Lodge.


   Indulging in America's favorite pastime at downtown Salt Lake's Spring Mobile Ballpark.

On Saturday following a day of bike rides and yard work, we headed downtown to catch a Salt Lake Bees baseball game. The Bees are a minor league team affiliated with the L.A. Angels. Admittedly, I'm as into baseball as I am any other team sport (Not at all.), but there's something about sitting in bleachers drinking a cold beer that makes me feel like I'm fulfilling my birthright as an American. And the Spring Mobile Ballpark (Known as the Apiary by fans.) is a particularly cool place to watch boys play with sticks and balls. Home plate is at the northwest corner of the stadium which not only allows spectators panoramic Wasatch Range views but comfortable shade from the first pitch all summer long. Sure it's the Minors but as far as family entertainment would still be a deal at twice the price: tickets start at $5, on Wednesdays hotdogs are $1 and on Thirsty Thursdays, 16 oz domestic beers are $2.75.

 
Charlie cooling off in the spray at the base of Lisa's Falls.

On Sunday, temperatures soared into the 90s, driving us back into Little Cottonwood Canyon for a hike away from the valley heat. The trailhead for Lisa's Falls is at an unmarked parking area on the north side of the Little Cottonwood Canyon Road between milepost markers 6 and 7. The walk to the falls' base is very short--less than half a mile--but is also rocky and steep. We ate a picnic near the falls while watching a couple of rock climbers navigate the granite face next to the falls.

  
Remnants of the Temple Quarry, circa mid-1800s.

After lunch we headed across the road to walk for a bit up the Temple Quarry Trail, named after the quarry that operated here in the 1800s to supply stone for the construction of the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. Though this trail is accessed at various points along the south side of the Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, the trailhead is located and well marked at the base of the canyon. The first mile of the hiking/mountain biking trail is paved and appropriate for even the youngest children; the upper 2.5 miles varies between a wide, gravel-lined pathway to rocky single track and ends at the quarry ruins pictured above.

We indeed packed it in this weekend, but didn't get to everything I wanted to do including the opening weekend of the Downtown Salt Lake City Farmer's Market, a Real Salt Lake soccer game, and the Park Silly Sunday Market and Flying Ace All Stars Show (Olympic freestyle skiers landing tricks into a huge splash pool.) at the Utah Olympic Park. Guess we've got our "work" cut out for us next weekend. 

Girl Power

I spent last weekend as I do many in the warm weather months: on my bike. But rather than pedaling around the Salt Lake City foothills and canyons I drove two hours north to Lewiston for the Bonneville Cycling Club's Little Red Riding Hood, one of the West's premiere all-women organized bicycle rides.


The scene at the start of last weekend's Little Red Riding Hood 2013.

Little Red Riding Hood was founded by Alice Telford who thought (Long before road cycling was as popular as it is now.) that the quiet, flat and scenic country roads in northern Utah's Cache Valley would be a near perfect venue for an all-women's ride similar to ones she'd participated in elsewhere. Twenty-five women pedaled the first ever Little Red in 1987. The ride continued year after year, growing slowly but steadily. This year's ride was the biggest yet including more than 3,500 riders from 26 states participating in 18-, 36-, 50-, 70- and 100-mile course options; a pre-ride party and dinner the night before the ride; route entertainment; a costume contest; and finish-line celebration.



Big sky country. The quiet and stunningly scenic roads in Utah's Cache County provide miles and miles of picture-perfect road biking.

I rode Little Red for the first time--and my first century--two years ago. Despite a slightly clunky registration process that year, I was blown away by how well the event was run. The rest stops were frequent and generously stocked. The course was extremely well marked. And entertainment all along the way made the ride feel more like a party rather than athletic event.


Event organizers, decked out in their Bollywood best, are an apt indication of LRRH's festive atmosphere.

This year's Little Red ride was even better. The Bonneville Cycling Club transformed sleepy Lewiston, Utah into an event headquarters on par with much larger, big city athletic events underwritten by major corporations. The vendor expo featured high-quality products and services. The Bollywood theme was well-executed and creatively translated in colorful decorations and unique entertainment and food. And as in the past, the rest stops were ideally placed and so well stocked the only items I used that weren't provided (Beyond standard cycling gear.) was lip balm.

LRRH's exploding popularity over the last several years forced event organizers to this year go to a lottery format for registration. But instead of the hassle-ridden ride number pick up process I'd experienced in 2011 (Waiting in line for hours at a park a few days before the event.), this year bibs and t-shirts were conveniently mailed to participants about a month in advance of the event. (LRRH also functions as a fundraiser for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation giving riders an option of fundraising and/or making a donation for registration versus taking their chances with the lottery.)

For weeks leading up to the ride, I was uncertain if I was going to participate in LRRH at all this year. My daughter and I both came down with whooping cough early in May which, as you know if you've ever had it, is a very long-lasting illness. Not fun. The week before LRRH I rallied and decided to go for the 50-mile option. I am so glad I did. The day was beautiful, the company fantastic (Thanks, Karen!) and I felt great.

Lottery sign up for the LRRH 2014, scheduled for June 7, will be held in mid-January. For details click here.



Karen and I enjoying a hard-earned, post-LRRH Lime Ricky.             


 

Where Nature is Delicious



Lumber baron L.F. Rains had Log Haven built in 1920 as a anniversary gift to his wife. Logs harvested in Oregon and carried four miles up Millcreek Canyon via horse-drawn wagon were used to build the venerable lodge.

If the many advantages to living in Salt Lake City were encapsulated in a restaurant, it would be Log Haven. Tucked amid lush stands of Ponderosa pine, Aspen and Gambel oak in Millcreek Canyon, this stately, rough hewn log retreat seems miles from anywhere but in fact is located just 20 minutes from downtown. The cozy interior—replete with leather club chairs, river rock fireplaces and crisp white linen-covered tables—make Log Haven an impressive choice for milestone celebrations, date nights and entertaining out-of-town friends and clients in the winter months. During the summer however, when seating opens on the Waterfall patio, the vibe here is definitively more laid back while the food and service remain five-star. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the inimitable restaurant’s annual spring menu tasting last week and, as in the past, Chef Dave Jones, General Manager Ian Campbell and Events Director Faith Sweeten did not disappoint.

We were greeted with this champagne cocktail when we arrived at Log Haven last week, which even my bubbly-adverse husband found tasty. I found it irresistible.

It’s almost impossible to narrow down my favorite item from the amazing dishes on Log Haven's off-the-charts summer menu. The grilled calamari was wonderfully smoky and, when pared with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, is summertime's essence on a plate. I won’t soon forget the seared sea scallops served over a lemon poppy seed risotto filled with lovey al dente English peas. And the smoked duck and Serrano chile pasta offered an unexpected Southwest-inspired kick balanced perfectly with a fresh mango salsa. By just a nose, however, the star of the evening for me was the grilled whiskey-miso halibut served with a brilliant compressed super greens and sesame salad, an item part of Log Haven’s high-impact, low calorie summer menu.


Our server told us the ingenious compressed salad accompanying this delicate halibut entree is made with almost a full bunch of greens
 ... delicious and nutritious!


In addition to the fantastic, award-winning menu and thoughtful wine list, Log Haven summertime happenings include live piano music every Thursday through Sunday evening. The Dog Days of Summer, an invitation to come with your dog for post-canyon hike dinner or cocktails on the restaurant’s outdoor amphitheater. And the Early Bird Special, where diners arriving before 6:30 p.m. can enjoy a decadent surf and turf (steak and lobster) dinner for just $27.50.

Log Haven takes reservations from 5:30 to 9 p.m. nightly and is located four miles up Millcreek Canyon (3800 South) on the south side of the canyon road.




 

Ode to My Favorite Summer Concert Venue


My profile view of the amazing venue at Red Butte Garden.

Red Butte Garden kicked off its summer concert season earlier this week with an amazing show by the alternative rock juggernaut Vampire Weekend. The crowd was on its feet before the band started playing and remained there until the end of the boy band’s (They all look like boy bands to me now.) signature show-ending song "Walcott.” I think an apt gauge of how a performer is connecting with an audience is how many people are in the bathroom during the show. I unfortunately didn’t plan ahead and had to make a quick trip to the head after about song three. The place was deserted. Enough said.

VW’s show was a resounding homerun, but even if they’d been just meh, I’d still have had a blast because of A, the company (Thanks, Sheller!) and B, the venue. Summer concerts at Red Butte Garden are—far and away—one of the biggest perks of living in Utah. Owned and maintained by the University of Utah, Red Butte is the largest botanical garden in the Intermountain West. Most of its 100 acres are dedicated to display and natural gardens, walking paths and natural areas with hiking trails save for a gently sloping, grassy hillside on the garden’s north end used to host concerts. 

Without fail, every performer I’ve seen at Red Butte comments about how stunning the venue is during their performance. How could they not? The venue itself is surrounding by lush perennial gardens and mature Gambel oak trees, and views from the stage span east up Red Butte Canyon and north along the Wasatch Front. Because of the venue’s foothill location, canyon breezes keep temps comfortable even on summer's hottest days. A sell out show—as was the case for Vampire Weekend—is only about 3,000 people, translating into the place never feeling crowded and post-show traffic jams non-existent.

Red Butte concerts in the early days definitely featured B-level artists. But what I am guessing is due to how stunningly beautiful the venue is, major acts representing a variety of genres now pack the annual schedule. Steely Dan, Dwight Yokum, Tony Bennett, Jackson Brown, She & Him, David Byrne, Michael Franti & Spearhead and The Black Crows are just a few of the acts scheduled to play there later this summer.

And unlike other concert venues where entry entails metal detectors, pat downs and outside food and beverage confiscation, the scene at a Red Butte concert is like having a picnic in the park on a Sunday afternoon. Low slung chairs and coolers are both allowed and encouraged. We usually eat potluck style when we’re there with a group, passing around good eats and bottles of wine.

Communal probably best describes the Red Butte Garden concert experience. The place illustrates perfectly Salt Lake City’s literal and figurative mountain-meets-metro personality. Click here for Red Butte Garden’s amazing 2013 summer concert lineup. My ticket cache includes Brandi Carlile, Michael Franti and Neko Case. Hope to see you there.      




Where I Take a Moment for Shameless Self Promotion


Earlier this year I was asked to participate in a new magazine spearheaded by the Downtown Alliance promoting downtown Salt Lake City entitled, you guessed it, Downtown Magazine. My assignment was to write profiles about five people who’ve made their lives, either professionally or by virtue of where they live, in Salt Lake City’s urban core. The predetermined “hit” list included Amy Lukas with Infinite Scale Design Group, DJ and urban hipster Jesse Walker, Squatters owners Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis, CUAC board member and gay rights advocate Diane Stewart and Liddy Huntsman, social media darling and daughter of former presidential candidate and Utah native son Jon Huntsman, Jr.

I'll admit I approached the job thinking I already had a pretty clear idea what I was going to write about each person. Well, this one took my by surprise. Smart, thoughtful, funny, creative and completely authentic are all adjectives that easily describe each person I profiled. Before meeting with Diane Stewart, for example, I assumed she was just another woman of privilege looking for something to do with those hours between getting her hair done and dinner parties. I found out however that she’s as real as they come: she says what she thinks and, yes, is loaded to the gills but uses her money and influence to help those who’d never get a return phone call much less a meeting. And if you’re looking for signs of intelligent life within the Republican Party, look no further than Liddy Huntsman, who uses social media to call a spade a spade on both sides of the aisle. Finally, I’m still aglow from my conversation with Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis. Those two have a chemistry even the closest married couples would envy, and most endearingly, aren’t afraid to show it.

In addition to the piece I wrote, titled “My Downtown,” the magazine covers pretty much everything that makes Salt Lake City so cool—food, fashion, events, attractions and the arts—as well as debunking a few myths. Versus a stale guidebook format, Downtown Magazine is presented as a slick, appealing tome that, at the risk of sounding too self-promotional, you’ll actually want to read.

Downtown Magazine is available at the Downtown Alliance offices (175 E. 400 South), at various downtown businesses, and at the Salt Palace Visitors Center (90 S. West Temple). Watch for it also in a coming issue of the Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret News.

Pedal Pusher



The lovely view just shy of Little Mountain summit in Emigration canyon.

One of my favorite medium-length Salt Lake City area bicycle road rides is Emigration Canyon. Not only is the climb a nice, gradual ascent and the top almost exactly 20 miles from my front door, but Emigration represents one of the main reasons why I love living here: within just minutes of pointing my bike up the canyon the landscape changes from urban neighborhoods to a mountain wilderness filled with Gambel oaks, wildflowers and aspens.

Emigration is just one of five paved canyons feeding into Salt Lake City proper from the Wasatch Mountains, each of which is neatly aligned with downtown’s tidy grid layout. In other words, if you follow the street I mention with each canyon due east from the city, you’ll eventually find yourself in that canyon. Starting from the north is City Creek (North Temple Street), then Emigration (800 South), next is Millcreek (3800 South) and then Big Cottonwood (7000 South/Fort Union Blvd) and finally Little Cottonwood (9400 South). (Parleys Canyon is located in between Emigration and Millcreek and is indeed paved, but the road is Interstate 80 and obviously not an ideal venue for road biking.) A handful of dedicated road bikers I know – or maybe actually just one, Brad Toland – have pedaled all five of these canyons in a single day. I will likely never be that insane fit and am content to ride each one at a time.

I shared the road with hundreds of cyclists when I biked Emigration on Saturday. In addition to its consistent five percent grade, this canyon is very popular with cyclists for a couple of reasons. Two restaurants Ruth’s Diner (Located about a mile from the mouth and featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.) and the Sun and Moon Café (About four miles from the mouth.) serve good food on sunny patios providing fun destination points for a more leisurely ride. (I’m a big fan of Ruth’s biscuits and huevos rancheros.) Or, for a more strenuous training ride, once you reach the canyon summit (Little Mountain) continue east to Big Mountain, a killer seven-mile, 2,000-feet elevation gain ride.

If you go: be sure to take two water bottles and a packable jacket. This ride is always hot at the start but after sweating it out during the climb, it’s easy to get chilled on the descent. Also, in the spring and late summer microburst thunderstorms are a common occurrence here. Public restrooms are located in a park just south of the canyon mouth and at the Little Mountain summit. While I don’t advise it, I have on a couple desperate occasions snuck into Ruth’s or and fire station located about halfway up and politely used the facilities.  

One final note: Please don’t litter. It may seem a very obvious, condescending request but while riding on Saturday I noticed a new sign along road asking riders to respect the canyon. It was made out of what appeared to be discarded gel packages. A creative reminder that if you pack it in, you need to pack it out.   

Happy Trails


My favorite kind of date "night": Sunday afternoon road ride along the Legacy Parkway Trail.

I wouldn't say spring has sprung in Utah, but like most other areas of the country, winter's grip is finally loosening a bit, at least below about 7,000 feet. As such my husband and I decided to spend a few hours on Sunday checking out a local bike path neither of us had ridden in awhile, the Legacy Parkway Trail.


The Legacy Parkway Trail is a 14-mile road cyclist's triple threat: flat, smooth and no cars. 

This 14-mile cycling, hiking and horseback riding trail runs north from Salt Lake to Farmington. The trail was completed in conjunction with the four-lane Legacy Parkway freeway in 2008 and was built in part to appease environmental groups who opposed the freeway's location, a rich wetlands feeding ground for tens of thousands of migrating birds, used as a resting point on their journeys from Canada to points in Central and South America. (In fact, we came across a hiker who pointed out of pair of Sandhill cranes about 50 yards off the trail.)

We really got cooking at points along this pancake flat path (A welcome reprieve from the climbs we typically ride around our foothill home.), slowed only by barricades at road intersections. Because of the trail's wetland locale, bugs can be a problem particularly if you're a mouth breather. We encountered only a few on Sunday, likely due to this Spring's slow coming.

I wasn't aware of this until surfing the web today but the newly-completed Denver & Rio Grande Western Rail Trail extends from the Legacy Parkway Trail at the Farmington Bay Bird Refuge north for 23.5 miles through Layton, Clearfield, and Clinton to Hinckley Drive (3600 S) north of Roy. And at the Legacy's southern end you can pick up the Jordan River Parkway Trail, running 46.7 miles south to Utah County.

Plenty of commercial areas are interspersed among the suburbs and wetlands surrounding the trail, providing easy access to coffee or bite to eat along the way. None of the Legacy's seven access trail heads offer restroom facilities or water, however.

For details and Legacy Parkway Trail maps, visit udot.gov.     

My Favorite Zion Wine



A Utah winery seems about as plausible as eating a ham sandwich in a synagogue. (Well may be not that unlikely—or offensive for that matter—but you get the picture.) But not only is wine being fermented right here in Utah as I type, those made at Kiler Grove actually taste good. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Last month the Utah-based winery swept Arizona’s Southwest Wine Challenge. The winery’s 2009 Petite Sirah won a gold medal, the 2011 Saignée snagged a silver, and the 2009 Trebbiano (my personal favorite) took bronze.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Kiler Grove’s wines are vinted, fermented and bottled here in Utah, but the grapes come from a slightly more hospitable growing locale – you guessed it – California. Since 2000 Micheal and Elva Knight and David Olson, have grown grapes for Kiler Grove wines on ten fertile acres near Paso Robles. The fruit is then shipped to their South Salt Lake winery where they make “Rhône-style wines spanning Old World and New World Styles.” Kiler Grove makes only six wines (The 2010 Interpretation, 2007 and 2009 Zynergy and 2009 and 2010 Zinfandel in addition to the aforementioned award winners.) a choice head winemaker Micheal Knight attributes to quality. “We don’t make many wines because we don’t know of any other grape varietals that would succeed in our vineyard at the same level of quality than those we’ve planted. Our strategy is to grow the best fruit, handle it in the least intrusive manner, and then blend the wines with the goal of making the whole greater than the sum of the parts,” Knight says.


Kiler Grove's little piece of heaven in Paso Robles, California.

That said, earlier this year Kiler Grove announced they’ll be mixing things up a bit with some just-for-fun offerings, along with some wines they’ll just make once, under the label Whimsey. Firm plans include a 2011 Riesling (A good choice for a summer picnic or outdoor concert, perhaps?) and the 2010 Red Thriller. Whimsey wines are scheduled to be released sometime in the next couple of months.   

I tasted Kiler Grove’s Trebbiano for the first time a few years ago at Log Haven. It was springtime and, as is typical with me, I ordered fish. When our server recommended the Trebbiano I consented, albeit against my better judgment. What I got was this very clean and drinkable glass of wine walkiing the line between a fruity pinot grigio and buttery chardonnay. A perfect accompaniment for the fish dish I’d ordered and as someone who prefers to drink white wine year-round, ideal with just about anything but the heaviest red meat dishes. Now, whenever I’m heading downtown I make a point of stopping at Kiler Grove’s tasting room and winery to stock up. The location is a little strange, a side street off of State very close to the Interstate 80 off ramp, but I guarantee finding the place is worth the trip.

The Kiler Grove Winery & Tasting room is located at 53 W. Truman Avenue. Hours are Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Kiler Grove Wines are not sold in Utah State Liquor Stores.

Blog Software
Blog Software