The winemaker, Brent Helleckson, drinking Colorado wine in the vineyard at Stone Cottage Cellars in Paonia, CO

Brent Helleckson – Winemaker

Originally from a small farm in Minnesota, Brent grew up on the tractor, helping is father and grandfather in the fields. After graduating with both an Bachelors of Business and a Masters of Business Administration from North Dakota State University, he married Karen and moved to Boulder, Colorado. After a few years, he returned to school for a Masters in Aerospace Engineering, and completed most of his PhD in Aerospace Engineering as well, before deciding to raise a family instead.

Having had enough of city life, Karen and Brent purchased the vineyard in 1994, and began constructing the original stone cottage. Over the next three years, they commuted weekly from Boulder, spending four days on their day jobs and three days in Paonia working on their new house each week. Brent taught himself how to lay stone, and began to take some workshops in winemaking through the University of California Davis. Each harvest, he and Karen would comb the fields of already-harvested grapes in Palisade, scavenging enough grapes to make small batches of experimental wines. They continued to plant their own vineyard as well, adding Merlot and Chardonnay vineyards to an already successful plot of Gewurztraminer. In 2001, Brent kept the first crop of Merlot and made wine under  of local winemaker Alfred Eames.