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Great stuff made in Colorado: Siracha, folk jewelry and wine for pets

Apollo Peak Pet Wines began with a joke bottle of “Pinot Meow”


Jojo’s Sriracha

Jolene “Jojo” Collins describes herself as a sriracha sauce fiend. “I put that stuff on everything,” she says of Huy Fong Foods’ mass-market leader. But when she studied the label after going sugar-free in 2010, she was shocked: “Sugar was the second ingredient, salt was the third, and there’s a bunch of preservatives in it.”

She made her first sriracha sauce in her Denver apartment and went pro two years later in New York before returning to Colorado in 2014. Now working out of a 223-square-foot kitchen packed with buckets of fermenting peppers, she makes her O.G. recipe as well as a seasonal sauce with heirloom cherries and a green chile sauce. “All we have to do is change the varieties of chili peppers and it’s a whole new sauce,” Collins muses. “It’s all about the green chiles here.”
$12 to $14 per jar

Made by Love Hard Inc.

Sharill Hawkins Folk Art Jewelry

After working with gold and silver starting in the 1970s, Sharill Hawkins developed a copper allergy, so she found a new medium in the mid-2000s. Hawkins found just the material in colorful tins that once contained everything from fruitcakes to popcorn. “It’s just about any tin that has a lot of colors or patterns in it,” says Hawkins who was an art teacher and founded Show of Hands Gallery in Denver. She cuts out different shapes and crafts earrings, pins and pendants. “I’m having more fun doing this then I ever did doing the silver and gold work,” says Hawkins. “Plus it gives me the excuse to go to the thrift store.”
Earrings: $28 to $38
Pins and Pendants: $50 to $125

Glenwood Springs
Made by Sharill Hawkins
(970) 945-4004

Apollo Peak Pet Wines

Brandon Zavala worked in sales in the pet industry before moving to Colorado to launch his own enterprise, one that stemmed from a joke bottle for “Pinot Meow” he made for his friends. While it was just a printed label he slapped on a real bottle of wine on a lark, their reaction spurred Zavala to start Apollo Peak in 2015 to make non-alcoholic wines from beet juice with catnip, anise,and other herbs for feline and canine companions. With the mid-2016 launch of such wines as Catbernet and CharDOGnay, the company went viral and sold 50,000 bottles, says Zavala.

“For the first six months, we’ve done pretty well,” he says. “The target market is anybody who wants to socialize with their pets.”

$5.95 to $15.95 per bottle

Made by Apollo Peak

Made Wild

In 2014, Gilbert Hernandez and Christopher Matthews moved from Texas to Denver with the plan of launching a brand that emphasized all things local, and did just that with Made Wild and a line of locally printed and embroidered apparel and stickers, candles (made by Denver’s Wooly Wax) and other products aimed at creative professionals.

“I really want to expand into notebooks and things you’d put on your desk to inspire you,” says Matthews, who graduated from the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute’s program in late 2015 as Made Wild relaunched with a new catalog, sold online and at local markets like Denver Flea. “There were no options in Texas for us,” says Matthews. “Nobody does markets. People are very different here  —  I can’t imagine being anyplace else now.”
Stickers: $3
Apparel and accessories:
$24 to $48


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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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