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Owners & Winemakers


JAY CHRISTIANSON
OWNER / WINEMAKER

Jay has been involved in the vineyard, winery, and winemaking in a myriad of roles for more than twenty years. Growing up on the family estate (doing everything from cellar rat to national sales), and learning from the famous Napa Winemaker, Robert Pepi, provided Jay with an extensive knowledge of winemaking and an understanding of the importance of terroir and low-intervention practices.

Since 2007, Jay has lead all winemaking at CWC, in addition to leading the charge into the next generation of Colorado winemaking with Anemoi Wines. Before Jay returned to take over Canyon Wind, he spent a number of years in the Northeast as a Boarding School Teacher and Ski Racing Coach- so whether you want to learn everything there is to know about fermentation or how to carve the perfect turn, he's your guy. If you're lucky enough to run into him at the winery, you can hear about how he came up with the Canyon Wind name at the (very!) young age of nine or the time he hiked up Mont Blanc in Chamonix or any of his other great stories!

Jay is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board and served on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Association of Viticulture and Enology from 2013-2015.
 

JENNIFER CHRISTIANSON
OWNER / WINEMAKER

Jennifer is a relatively new face in the wine world, having only been involved since 2009. Originally from suburban Chicago, Jennifer attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, fell in love with the mountains and never left. Upon meeting her husband and co-owner, Jay, in 2008, she learned that a) she loved wine and b) the process of creating wine was fascinating. Armed with passion, the resources of a world famous winemaker, and a fabulous pair of (now retired) purple rubber boots, Jennifer is shaping the future of Colorado wine by bringing new perspective and ideas to Canyon Wind and developing the concept that became Anemoi Wines.

In a previous life (does life really exist before wine...), Jennifer spent many years fundraising for ski racers- from the little "torpedoes" you see racing past you on the slopes to members of the U.S. Ski Team. Prior to earning an MBA, Jennifer also spent a number of years working as an Environmental Chemist for the U.S. Geological Survey (actually using her degree in Geology). While she was born in the Midwest, Jennifer has an incredible love and knowledge of Colorado history- ever heard of the "Richest Square Mile on Earth" and want to know its importance in Colorado's gold rush history or where to find one of the creepiest ghost towns in the San Juans - stop by and ask, she'll be equally as excited to talk to you about old mining towns or the next Anemoi wine!

Jennifer served on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Association of Viticulture and Enology from 2011-2013.
 

FINLEY- THE WINE FINE CANINE
CHIEF CANINE OFFICER

Having joined the family in July 2010, resident Labrador Retriever, Finley, acts as both the Chief Canine Officer ensuring our staff members are happy and the Official Greeter, welcoming all guests to our winery and vineyard in Palisade.

Finley can frequently be found mulching old vines, swimming in the property's ponds, and cleaning up any wine spills. A bit of a wino, Finley is always the first to volunteer for tasting. Look for him to be keeping cool in the winery or munching on vines in the front yard- a belly rub or a ball toss and he'll be your friend for life!

In addition to being cute and friendly, Finley also has a big heart and desire to help his fellow canine and feline. He recently released a special project wine (with permission of his owners, of course) called Finley’s Red Paw of which $10 from each bottle sold is donated to local charity, Animal Rescue of the Rockies.
 

ROBERT PEPI
CONSULTING WINEMAKER

Robert (Bob) Pepi is a world-renowned Napa Valley winemaker who joined Canyon Wind Cellars in its infancy to contribute his expertise in winemaking. Under his careful supervision and direction, Canyon Wind Cellars has produced many award-winning estate wines since the first crush in 1996. A true visionary in the California wine industry, as well as an innovator in winemaking (Bob was instrumental in developing the “Two-Hearted Canopy” trellising system, also known as the Geneva Double Curtain), Canyon Wind is honored to have direction from such a unique talent.
 

NORMAN AND ELLEN CHRISTIANSON
FOUNDERS

Norman’s passion for wine took him across five continents as he searched for the perfect location for a vineyard. His eye as a trained geologist recognized the unique setting in Palisade, Colorado – the cobblestone bench, abundant water, fertile soil, cool mountain breezes and low humidity – all perfect for growing high-altitude wine grapes. He combined his passion and vision into an estate vineyard and winery that consistently creates award-winning wines.  Along with his wife Ellen, they laid down the roots of Canyon Wind Cellars.