Wine tasting bar opens in Dolores

Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR MICHELLE MARTIN stands inside the vault at Karma Coffee and Wine Bar at West Fork Gallery, which is now a wine cellar.

Michelle Martin can be called a woman of many talents.

She owns an art gallery, can frame nearly anything, can whip up your favorite espresso drink, is a talented artist and has a knack for interior design.

And if that isn't enough, Martin has added one more thing to her list: wine expert.

Martin recently opened a wine tasting bar at West Fork Gallery.

"I love wine and I've always wanted a wine cellar," Martin said.

For 16 years Martin has owned West Fork Gallery, which is housed inside a historical Dolores building. The building is about 110 years old and is the original track warehouse for the railroad. After the building was a track warehouse, it was used as an antique store and was named Bill's Emporium and Antiques, Martin said.

"About 40 or 50 years ago, a vault was put in," Martin said.

The vault, complete with a vault door and thick concrete walls, was put in by Bill Wagner, Martin said.

"This vault is a huge attraction," she said. "Everyone wants to know about this vault and others have stories they tell me about the vault."

Some of the stories involve Bill taking them back into the dark vault and showing them priceless antiques and artifacts, embalmed animals and even rocks that glowed under black light.

"The stories I hear are amazing," Martin said. "It was like the secret cave."

Martin has used the vault to help in her framing business; because the vault is fire proof, she often stored priceless works of art inside. Martin has framed everything from an original Picasso to a Salvador Dali.

One day, as Martin walked into the vault she had an idea.

"I thought, this would make the perfect wine cellar," she said.

The vault is dark, safe and the perfect temperature.

From that thought, spawned the perfect idea to have a wine tasting room.

Currently, Martin offers wine from Colorado's Mountain View Winery featuring wine from Garrett Estate Cellars.

There are 11 different wines to taste.

"The whites are exceptional and have won many awards," she said.

But her favorite is the Daredevil Red.

"It's not too dry and it's not too sweet and goes with everything," she said.

Martin works under the winery's liquor license. Bottles range in price from $15 to $24.

"This area needs a place that does wine tastings," Martin said.

The gallery is also available for community events and after-hour tastings by appointment.

Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR A BIG ATTRACTION at the West Fork Gallery is the vault, which was installed by a former building owner and antique dealer.

Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR MICHELLE MARTIN holds out a bottle of wine offered for tasting in Dolores.