This year’s gift giving demands beanies, bikes and booze, among other Colorado-crafted goods
By Shauna Farnell
Yes, it’s that time of year when we all prepare to say goodbye (and perhaps good riddance) to 2020 and frantically dig for something special in the form of material to ritualistically present to our loved ones. No matter the interest, whether yoga, biking, boozing, staying warm in the cold, or finding the perfect winter loungewear, there’s something here for everyone and each of these items is born and/or produced right here in the Centennial State.
Walk into Melanzana in Leadville and time travel back to an era when boutique clothing shops were comprised of a full-on sewing operation right before your eyes. What’s not the least bit dated or old-fashioned is the product itself. Highly coveted by every college student in the state, these handmade hoodies are not only the telltale sign of a legit Colorado mountain dweller, but super soft and sure to become your go-to pandemic loungewear. Note that you can’t actually see the Leadville shop in action at the moment, as it
is currently closed to customers due to COVID-19 precautions, but the online store is very much accessible. If you’re beefing up your collection of comfort attire (and who isn’t right now?), you might also want to try Melanzana’s sweat pants, crew tops or skirts. We can all agree that comfy is where it’s at right now. It doesn’t hurt that wearing Melanzana goods also makes you a model of Colorado cool.
Sprigs & Sprouts olive oils and balsamics
If you happen to find yourself in Palisade, you might just follow your nose to the enchanting olfactory magic that is the lavender farm at Sprigs & Sprouts. However, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to indulge your other senses while you’re at it. The farm sells an astonishing array of soaps, salves,lotions, candles and essential oils, but its culinary delights are arguably where it shines the most, particularly its creative olive oils and balsamic vinegars, most of which are opened for on-site sampling and all of which are available online. The organic, extra-virgin olive oil flavors range from blood orange to portobello and garlic, a variety that will make a gourmet out of any pasta dish or plate of lettuce. The balsamics you’ll be tempted to drink straight up from the bottle (but also bolster everything from salads to ice cream), especially the chocolate raspberry.
Even the most discerning bean snobs will melt into the smack of these taste bud-dazzling, high-octane brews. And rest assured, the brains behind Wander Coffee in Fort Collins take the art of micro-roasting very seriously. To geek out with the best of them, you should always sample the limited-release blend, but before you do, load up on all of the organics. At the very least, you won’t be sorry and at the very best, you might become perked up to a state of true epiphany. In addition to becoming an absolute staple to anyone’s full arrival at consciousness every morning (or afternoon, or evening … to each their own when it comes to caffeine habits), Wander is also globally minded in the sense that it truly cares about the planet. As evidence, the company uses machinery that minimizes environmental pollutants and packages its beans in its own exclusive biodegradable bags.
In the pandemic, everyone seems to be adding a brand new outdoor activity – and the equipment to go with it – to their quiver. Chances are, paddleboarding is something many outdoor lovers and scenery seekers have freshly picked up. Located in Salida and quality tested directly on the Arkansas River, Badfish SUP crafts every type of board for Colorado’s variety of waterways. If you want to surf river waves, slow paddle a lake, get gnarly in whitewater, deflate a board to shove into the trunk of your sedan, Badfish makes just the
board. Launched by a pair of globetrotting kayakers who fell in love with paddleboarding after settling in Salida and surfing the ‘Ark, this is a company that walks the walk and stands up to its SUP.
You may have heard that the latest trend to hit the two-wheel scene is gravel biking and Steamboat Springs happens to be the epicenter of it. Not only does the resort town have its own gravel racing series, but it has its very own bike factory. Moots has been around since 1981 and produces among the world’s finest self-powered bicycles of every variety, including gravel bikes, which look and feel a lot like road bikes but with burlier, nubby tires. Gravel bikes allow you to seamlessly roll from smooth pavement to dirt with a swiftness and silkiness that proves addictive for cyclists who like to tackle miles upon miles without being limited by terrain. The standout feature of all Moots bikes is the titanium frame. Stronger and more durable than carbon, titanium is also incredibly lightweight. These lightweight, sleek bikes are true machines.
Still searching for that one-of-a-kind beanie that will become your go-to daily accessory this winter? Look no further. Made by hand in-house right before your eyes in Akinz’ flagship store in Old Town Fort Collins, these hats (also scarves, neck warmers, headbands and cowls) are made with super-soft yarn in a variety of colors and slouchy-ness. This hat will become the instant envy of your entire social circle.
Designed by Colorado native Ashley Rankin, these women’s bike shorts are fun, colorful AND comfortable. Think dinosaurs, unicorns, foxes, flowers and feathers. They are saddle standouts no matter which pattern you choose or gift.
Marble Distillery is environmentally conscious to the point it was recently named “the most sustainable distillery on the planet,” but more than that, it produces amazing booze. The Carbondale-based facility serves as an incredibly charming inn and recently installed ultraviolet germical irradiation in its air ducts, considered useful for COVID-19 decontamination. Next door, the distillery churns out a delightfully versatile vodka, a Gingercello and Moonlight Expresso (adding a much-needed zing to your afternoon coffee
once the days get shorter) as well as ever-changing whiskey including its limited edition Hoovers Revenge Rye Whiskey (available this month).
Chakra Girl leggings
If you attend a yoga class in Aspen, or anywhere in the Rockies, chances are you’ll be transfixed by at least one pair of Chakra Girl leggings. Founded by intuitive healer and meditation teacher Julia Fullerton, these leggings come in vibrant prints deliberately color- coordinated with the body’s Chakra energy system. They are eco-friendly, super soft, comfy and tempting to wear not only to yoga but at home all day, every day.
Horsetooth Hot Sauce
If there ever was a far-reaching gift that appears thoughtful and customized for all recipients, even if they aren’t people who like to consume spice until their ears smoke, it’s this delectable array of sauces named after the famed Horsetooth Reservoir. There is the Melt Your Face variety, which, while indeed made with ghost chilis, is not as spicy as you’d think, and milder options like the mango-inspired Naughty # 4 and barbecue companion Smokestack Lightning.
If the time has come to upgrade your sticks, you’re not going to do better than a pair of Meier skis. Made in Denver (right in front of you if you visit the shop’s Craft Skiery, where you can watch skis being made while drinking a beer), Meier skis are carved
and crafted from 100-percent natural wood sourced from Colorado trees – Aspen, Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine.
Wiggy sleeping bags
Now that camping around America is everyone’s favorite activity, you might as well go for a top-of-the-line sleeping bag that happens to be the only sleeping bag made in the U.S., in a hand-operated factory right here in Grand Junction. Using a custom insulation developed by Wiggy’s founder Jerry Wigutow, Wiggy’s bags come in a variety of temperature ratings, are soft, warm and so durable they are designed to be washed, re-washed and passed down from generation to generation.