History of Canyon Wind Cellars

A trained geologist and adventurous world traveler, Norman Christianson’s career lead him to search for gold in Chile and California, nickel in Australia, molybdenum in Colorado, and diamonds in South Africa. In the late 1980′s however, he found the mineral exploration world was becoming a more difficult place to navigate. Unable to fathom the idea of retirement, Norman decided to pursue his other passion- wine.

In his travels throughout the world, Norman had the opportunity to explore frontier wine regions of the world. It was those experiences and a passion for his home state that was the inspiration to plant vineyards in Colorado. With the trained eye of a geologist, it did not take long to see that the Grand Valley had all of the key elements needed: cool nights, hot days, high altitude, and Mesa Verde Sandstone (the same formation the famous Left Bank of Bordeaux sits partially within).

A decision easily made by Norman and his wife, Ellen, led to the creation of Christianson Vineyards and what today is Canyon Wind Cellars.


  • With the direction of viticulturist Rich Thomas, the first vines, to be known as the Riverside Vineyard, are planted.

  • Having established that the fruit is some of the finest in the Grand Valley, Canyon Wind Cellars is born. Under the guidance of renowned Napa winemaker, Bob Pepi, a state-of-the-art facility is created.

  • Canyon Wind Cellars has its first crush, producing a Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon of the finest quality.

  • Canyon Wind Cellars begins planting a second vineyard, to be known as the Cliffside Vineyard.  This vineyard expansion marks the first time since the winery’s founding that varietals have been added to the offerings. Over the next five years, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Tempranillo, and Syrah would be produced and available for sale.
  • Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, grown in the Riverside Vineyard, are also added to the lineup of wines.
  • An underground barrel cellar and warehouse are constructed. Naturally temperature and humidity controlled, the cellar is the only one of its kind in Colorado.

  • Canyon Wind opens a second tasting room in the historic mining town of Georgetown, CO. Just 45 minutes west of Denver, this additional tasting room brings Colorado grown and produced wines closer to the population center of the state.

  • Norman’s son, Jay, returns to Colorado after many years on the East Coast to take over as the winemaker. Working closely with Bob Pepi and having spent almost all of his life at the winery, Jay continues producing Canyon Wind’s thirteen wines, while adding one of his own.
  • IV, a Bordeaux blend, is produced. A true labor of love for Jay, IV becomes the first $100 bottle of wine to be produced in Colorado.

  • Jay’s wife, Jennifer, joins both the Christianson and Canyon Wind Cellars families.  With a degree in Geology and an extensive background in non-profit leadership and fundraising, Jennifer was a natural fit to run the tasting rooms and lead the staff in providing an unforgettable experience for all visitors.
  • The second generation of Canyon Wind has arrived, as Jay and Jennifer take over the leadership of Canyon Wind Cellars.
  • Chief Canine Officer and Official Greeter, Finley (a very active yellow labrador), joins the family in July.

  • Due to the unfortunate loss of the Tempranillo vines during the winter of 2009-2010, the decision is made to plant Malbec. The first clone, 9, is planted in the spring.
  • Created by Jay & Jennifer as a result of their love of blends and the desire to explore the "geeky" side of winemaking, Anemoi Wines, named for the Greek gods of wind, debuts with its first release- 2009 Boreas.
  • Five rows of Cabernet Sauvignon from the West Block of the Riverside Vineyard are removed to create The Terrace, an open space overlooking the Colorado River with an incredible view of the Grand Mesa, designed to host weddings and events.
  • Colorado's first $100 wine, the 2007 IV, wins a Double Gold at the 2011 Indy International Wine Competition.
  • The 2009 Petit Verdot is the recipient of a prestigious Jefferson Cup, from the 2011 Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition created by Doug Frost (one of only three people in the world to hold both Master of Wine and Master Sommelier titles).

  • A "heritage" clone (also described as the "most proven French Malbec clone"), the second clone of Malbec, 595 Entav, is planted.
  • The 2011 47-Ten Rose is awarded the "Best of Class- Rose" at the 2012 NextGen Wine Competition in Sonoma, CA.
  • For the first time since winemaking began, the decision is made to vinify all five clones of Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the property, separately. The "best" one, Clone 4, is chosen to be aged and bottled as the first Single Clone Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Canyon Wind.
  • Anemoi Wines releases the 2010 Zephyrus, 2011 Iapyx, and 2012 Notus.
  • Just nine and four months after their release, respectively, both the 2009 Boreas and 2010 Zephyrus sell out completely.

  • The 2012 47-Ten Rosé wins "Best of Show- Rosé" at the 2013 San Diego International Wine Competition and "Best Rosé" at the 2013 Governor's Cup/AWS Colorado Wine Competition.
  • On July 1, the Georgetown Tasting Room was permanently closed, in order to allow the company to focus on winemaking, vineyard expansion, and more events and activities at the winery facility in Palisade.
  • Anemoi Wines releases the 2012 Apeliotes and 2012 Lips.
  • The 2012 Cabernet Franc and 2012 Lips are both awarded "Best of Class" for their respective classes at the 2013 International Wine Channel TV Awards Wine Competition.
  • The first-ever crop of Malbec is harvested from the Christianson Vineyards property.

  • The 2012 Petit Verdot is awarded the 2014 Colorado Governor's Cup, receiving both the "Best of Show" and "Best Red Wine" awards.
  • The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon receives 90 points from Wine & Spirits Magazine, the highest score ever awarded to a Colorado wine by that publication.
  • The 2012 Cabernet Franc receives 89 points from the Wine Enthusiast, the second-highest score awarded to a Colorado wine by that publication.
  • Anemoi Wines releases the 2012 Boreas, 2012 Zephyrus, 2013 Apeliotes, 2013 Lips, and 2013 Zephyrus.
  • Canyon Wind releases the first-ever single clone Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 4, in both 750 mL and 1.5 L formats, making it the first wine to be offered as a magnum since the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Canyon Wind releases its first "wine club-only" wines- the 2013 Malbec, 2013 Reserve Chardonnay, and the 2013 Riverside Reserve.
  • A special project consisting of Canyon Wind and Anemoi Wines leads to the creation of Finley's Red Paw- a "secret" blend or varietal from which $10 of every bottle sold is donated to local charity, Animal Rescue of the Rockies. Sales of Finley's Red Paw throughout 2014 generate $1,900 in donations.

  • The 2013 Anemoi Lips is awarded "Best In Show" (tie) at the 2015 Colorado Governor's Cup and makes Canyon Wind Cellars the winner of Colorado's most prestigious wine award for the second consecutive year.
  • The 2013 Petit Verdot is awarded a Double Gold and a spot in the 2015 Colorado Governor's Cup case for the second consecutive year.
  • The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon- Clone 4 receives 90 points from the Wine Enthusiast, tying it with the highest score ever awarded to a Colorado wine by that publication; and 93 points from the Beverage Testing Institute, the highest score ever received by a Canyon Wind Cellars wine from that publication.
  • Anemoi Wines releases the 2014 Apeliotes, 2014 Lips, and 2014 Notus.
  • Approximately 700 Malbec vines, clone Entav 595, vines are planted in the Cliffside Vineyard.
  • CWC has the largest harvest in its 24-year history of growing grapes with a total of 150 tons of grapes picked.
  • As of December 31st, sales of Finley's Red Paw have generated a total of $4,300 in donations for Animal Rescue of the Rockies since the inception of the program.

  • On March 31st, the announcement is made that after twenty years of business, Canyon Wind Cellars will be closing at the end of the year.
  • The last case of wine produced by Christianson Cellars, Canyon Wind's 2014 Petit Verdot, is sold on August 4, 2016.
  • On August 15th, the vineyards and winery facilities are sold to new owners, and the Canyon Wind Cellars and Anemoi Wines brands are officially discontinued.
  • Owners Jay & Jennifer Christianson hit the road in their new Airstream trailer, named Stan, for a 94-day, 12,000-mile trip throughout the Eastern U.S., and along the way document their travels in their travel blog, Tin Sheets to the Wind.