Varaison Vineyards

This entry is part 16 of 22 in the series May - 2015

Varaison Vineyards

Graduate Student Focused On Science Of Fermentation

By Shannon Dale

ANDY WEST, graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University, had a unique childhood, one centered on the growth and production of Colorado wine on his family’s vineyard, Varaison Vineyards. “Varaison” is a French term for when the grapes begin to turn color and take on sugar. West always had a CSU connection, as his father, CSU alumnus Ron West (’81) graduated with a focus in microbiology and toxicology. Inspired by his father’s passion for science, West started his undergraduate studies at CSU in chemical engineering. He also enjoyed playing in the CSU marching band from 2008 through 2009. He completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry at Colorado Mesa University. “After many long conversations with my dad, I decided to pursue graduate school to help develop the laboratory side of Varaison Vineyards,” says West. “To be honest, I didn’t look anywhere else. CSU is where I wanted to be.” West’s father worked for several startup companies that produced analytical laboratory equipment for the food and beverage industry. Through his experiences with the wine industry, Ron West decided he could grow grapes and make wine himself. Andy West said that Varaison Vineyards was started in 2000 on the old family farm in Grand Junction. In 2003, the family acquired another property in Palisade, in the heart of Colorado’s wine country. Varaison Vineyards grew quickly, planting more grapes in 2004, and renovating the 1907 Victorian-style home on the property into a winery tasting room. Currently, the vineyard produces more than 12,000 cases of wine each year and has an average of 30,000 visitors each year from all over the world. Andy West has been involved with the winery since its inception, from growing and caring for the grapes to running the business and event side of the vineyard. When it comes to actual winemaking (deciding on style, grapes, barrels, yeast, etc.), his father still calls all the shots. However, West takes copious notes and always strives to learn more. “With my degree, I hope to develop an analytical laboratory focused on providing consulting services to the many wineries and breweries throughout the state,” added West. Varaison Vineyards was recently featured at the annual Hospitality Management Program Winemaster Dinner. Ron West presented wines from the vineyard, which complemented a five-course meal prepared by FSHN graduate chefs. The proceeds benefit the Hospitality Management Program in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

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