Is Salt Lake Ready to Support Local Wineries

Staff Writer
Is Salt Lake Ready to Support Local Wineries
Kiler Grove Urban Winery
The Kiler Grove vineyard in California grows Paso Robles, Rhône-style grapes.

Industries related to alcohol have been slow to grow in Salt Lake due to restrictive liquor laws, that have primarily been influenced by the Mormon church. However, as the laws have been relaxed, high end restaurants, a bar scene, and companies producing alcohol locally have begun to show up all around the city. Slowly but surely, the alcohol production industry is growing in Salt Lake and surrounding areas. Both micro-breweries and distilleries have had a large measure of success. A great example is Squatters Brew Pub, which produces beer that is sold not only at home in Salt Lake but, in other large regions of the the country. “We’re really popular in Texas.” Brewmaster Jason Stock told The Daily Meal. High West Distillery, who not only make quality whisky but also have a terrific restaurant, has also been well received. Both beer and sprits are definitely managing to gain a solid foothold in Salt Lake but, what about wine? Is Salt Lake ready to support a local winery as well?

A winery in Utah faces different completely different challenges then a brewery. Certainly both  types of businesses are subject to Utah’s more conservative liquor laws. However, when the success of breweries and distilleries that have been opened in Salt Lake is taken in to account, it’s clear the liquor laws have relaxed enough to allow alcohol production businesses to flourish.

For wine the issue may be more a matter of logistics. Beer is generally produced in a much shorter time frame, and with less physical labor, then wine. This means it’s much easier to produce large quantities of a product and keep up with purchasing demand. Perhaps most significantly of all, ingredients for beer can be grown in a greater variety of climates then wine grapes. In fact many wine experts would argue that the climate of Utah is not at all suitable for wine grapes. Perhaps it’s less of a question of is Salt Lake ready to support an urban winery, as is there a winery that can account for Utah’s climate in a way that will be successful.

Salt Lake is currently home to two wineries: Ruth Lewandowski Winery and Kiler Grove Urban Winery [pronounced Kye-ler]. Both are currently attacking the problem of the local climate on grapes by using grapes grown elsewhere, primarily California. Though they actually make the wines they sell in Utah. However, the owner of Lewandowski Winery, Evan Lewandowski, hopes to some day grow his own grapes right in Utah. “The soils here are varied and pretty amazing...pebbly, cobbly, rocky...sandstone, limestone, shale! Many places are absolutely perfect for the cultivation of extremely high quality wine grapes,” Lewandowski expressed, “I'm one million percent certain that world-class wine will one day be grown here. It's a matter of time. If I don't do it, someone else will.”

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