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Castle Creek Winery Celebrates Grape Picking Season
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Castle Creek Winery – Pioneers in Spirits
By Paige Wiren
Will Fryer makes wine and dreams. Will owns and operates Castle Creek Winery and through his efforts, has shaped Utah’s wine-making industry. In fact, it might be said that Will is Utah’s wine-making industry since Castle Creek is the largest winery in the state.
Situated 14 miles northeast of Moab on the banks of the strikingly scenic Colorado River, Castle Creek Winery is a dream acquired through the 1999 purchase of the previous Arches Winery property. Buying the real estate in part fueled the lifelong aspiration Will’s father had of creating a destination lodge for visitors to the Moab area. The winery just happened to come with the property.
Will admits he knew nothing about wine-making at the start. While they were pounding nails and laying tile for the lodge, they used the facility to store tools in, but the winery augmented his father’s dream and Will wanted to keep it viable. “I had to cram,” he says of his entrée into the wine world. “I read everything I could, and took classes through the UC Davis wine education program.” Focusing his efforts, he tried for seven years to grow grapes on the riverside property. “I was stubborn,” he notes, until he had the water tested and discovered that their abundant river water supply had too high of a salt and chloride content to ever successfully grow a productive crop. Two years ago however, Will had the opportunity to purchase a Spanish Valley vineyard from which he’d been buying for 14 years. That now allows him to have a consistent supply of quality grapes.
Will is a dedicated advocate of local economy. He encourages area residents to plant wine grapes, and will buy from hobby growers. He backs Utah businesses through the tasting room gift shop as well. “I really try to focus on bringing in local artisans,” he says, and also stocks local food items.
After years of concentrated study and hard work, Will is a bona fide oenologist, but he most definitely lacks any affectation associated with afficianado snobbery. He jokingly dispels the grandiose glamour that our culture assigns vinters saying that they are really just “glorified janitors. You spend a lot of time scrubbing tanks and pulling weeds,” he laughs. Which is why it’s nice to get recognition. Their award-winning production has increased from 2,000 gallons their first year to 14,000 gallons this year, and Castle Creek wines win 5-6 medals a year.
The lack of pretentiousness translates to the tasting room as well. Will enjoys the educational aspect of sharing what he knows. “I like people to ask questions,” he says. “I encourage people to come visit us. We’re just regular people trying to sell wine to regular people.”
The tasting room is open Mon – Sat from 10 am – 7 pm.