Two Rivers Winery takes advantage of law to share operations

Two Grand Junction wineries are the first Colorado in to take advantage of a law allowing wineries to share the same premises to manufacture their products.

Two Rivers Winery has established what’s called an alternating proprietor licensed premises agreement to share a part of its operation with Kahil Winery.

Kahil Winery is owned by Tyrell Lawson, the winemaker at Two Rivers.

“I made the decision to pursue the alternating proprietor license as an employee incentive for my winemaker,” said Bob Witham, owner of Two Rivers Winery. “Tyrell owns his own bonded winery business. And by providing the winemaking infrastructure for his use, he is able to produce wine in a cost-effective way while growing his own brand.”

Since June, Two Rivers has shared facilities with Kahil Winery, including crush pads, processing tanks, bottling lines and barrel storage and casking areas.

Enacted in 2008, House Bill 1359 permits Colorado wineries to operate an alternating proprietorship, allowing two or more wineries to share equipment, facilities and employees. State law previously allowed only a single winery to use a given premises.

“The alternating proprietor licensed premises agreement is a common practice in leading wine-producing states such as California, Oregon and Washington,” said Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. “Two Rivers is the first winery in Colorado to enter into such an arrangement.”

“I know House Bill 1359 will have a lasting and positive impact on winemakers throughout Colorado, making it easier for new wineries to enter the business and for existing wineries to expand more rapidly,” Caskey added.

Bob and Billie Witham established Two Rivers Winery in 1999 on a 15-acre site in the Redlands. Since then, the winery has increased production six fold, bottling a variety of wines, including a cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, port, riesling and syrah.

In 2002, Two Rivers Winery opened a 13,000 square-foot facility to accommodate weddings, conferences, meetings and other events. Bob Witham said the center has been an integral part of efforts to market and sell Two Rivers wines.

Last year, Two Rivers announced its acquisition of Amber Ridge Winery in Palisade, a deal that included an additional production facility as well as more vineyard acreage.