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Fountain Cafe, Pepi's, Windows, Cyrano's. Christopher Denton & Kelton R.E
Yvon Gros is a French-born chef who spent two decades in Vail, Colorado, before moving southwest to the North Fork Valley and establishing the Leroux Creek Inn & Vineyards.
It's one of several wineries in the area, where an abundance of sunshine, plenty of heat in the summer and relatively mild winters combine to create that rare environmental equilibrium that encourages fragile grapes to grow into the raw materials for cabernets and pinots. Leroux is located on a sparse hillside near the towns of Paonia and Hotchkiss; the tasting room is a pleasantly dark cellar flanked by dense fields of growing vines. The day I visited, Gros came in from the fields to pour me sips from bottles of rose and cabernet sauvignon, two varietals for which his winery is known. Locally, Gros and his wife, Joanna, are known as an exotic duo that blends perfectly into the live-and-let-live social fabric of the North Fork Valley. "There are so many interesting people here, and so much to do and learn about," says Gros. "It reminds me of France. There's an openness, an excellence. I think it's really a jewel." Yvon Gros has grown grapes in the North Fork Valley since 2002.
Joanna Reckert & Yvon Gros
This serene setting, reminiscent of the Provence countryside, is the perfect backdrop for a number of workshops offered by chef and winemaker Yvon Gros and his partner Joanna Reckert.
During March (and possibly April, depending on the availability), join Leroux Creek Inn owner Yvon Gros as he shares secrets to selecting the best plants and how to prepare them in delicious dishes. For $50 you'll go on a dandelion forage walk with Gros and enjoy a lunch featuring a delicious dandelion salad and wine, of course.
I say hosted only because my invitation came from Yvon, but co-hosting the daylong event (10 a.m. until 5 p.m.) are Dave and Sue Whittlesby of High Wire Ranch and the still-new (so new their Web site isn't up) Liliputian Winery, which you'll find next to Hardin's Natural Foods on Colorado Highway 92 west of Hotchkiss.
The second event takes place that same weekend, on Aug. 22, when talented chef and innkeeper Yvon Gros of Hotchkiss opens the expansive Provencial-style grounds of his Leroux Creek Inn and Vineyards to supporters of the Black Canyon Land Trust. Chefs Johannes Busch and Yvon Gros will serve elk and buffalo at the Black Canyon Land Trust's "Taste the Valley" on Aug. 22. Yvon Gros, the talented chef and winemaker at Leroux Creek Winery, said as of Sunday there still were a few seats unfilled for his five-course dinner ($55) Saturday night set in the Provencial atmosphere of his gardens. Information: 970-872-474.
"I got some frost but not as much as the people along (Highway) 92," said Yvon Gros of Leroux Creek Vineyards.
"I'm about 1,000 feet higher and it was about 28, 27 here but some places it went down to 24 or 25." Gros said his hybrid grapes, including chambourcin and cayuga, seem to resist frost better because their leaves are thicker than other varieties of grapes. "It was only for a few hours in the morning and that's not bad. Some of my chardonnay got frosted so it's not quite where I wanted it but it will be fine," Gros said.