About Colorado Wine

Colorado Wine Industry

One of the most surprisingly up-an-coming areas for wine production in the US is Colorado. Yes, you read that right: Colorado. Really, it should come as no shock, given the more than 300 days a year of sunshine there, along with their cool mountain nights and low humidity. Colorado has the ideal climate to grow wine grapes, and now it has the bustling wine producing industry to put out some award-winning bottles.

History of Wine in Colorado

Growing grapes is actually nothing new to the state of Colorado. Vines were first planted there by miners in the 19th Century. However, the fledgling wine industry was virtually destroyed by Prohibition in the 1920s and 30s.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the wine business took off again in Colorado, although the first wineries were then using grapes from California. In 1990 there were still only five commercial wineries in the entire state, but it was enough to justify the creation of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

Prime Vineyard Areas

There are now more than 115 commercial wineries in Colorado, and the state boasts two AVAs (American Viticultural Areas)–a sure sign that wine making has grown beyond a cottage industry to a serious business. Wine making in Colorado is divided among seven basic regions:

Delta and Montrose
Grand Valley AVA
Four Corners
Pikes Peak/Arkansas Valley
Front Range
Rocky Mountains
West Elks AVA

Colorado’s other claim to fame is that it grows wine grapes at some of the highest elevations in the world–between 4,000 and 7,000 feet.

Wine lovers can enjoy a wide variety of Colorado whites and reds:

Chardonnay
Viognier
Riesling
Merlot
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Syrah

The Future of Wine in Colorado

The wine industry in Colorado is advancing by leaps and bounds, and each year Colorado residents are consuming more and more local wines, as word of their quality gets out. Wine tourism, in fact, accounts for over $1 million annually, and wine making contributes nearly $150 million per year to the state in sales, employment and other impacts to the economy.

Perhaps the best sign that the Colorado wine industry has arrived is the high praise it earned from Warren Wianarski, who came to Colorado in 1968 to make one of the state’s first wines for Ivancie Cellars. In case Wianarski’s name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the gent whose 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon took the red category at the 1976 “Judgment of Paris,” astounding the world and putting American wines on the map.

Wianarski proclaimed that he was “amazed and astounded” at the quality of some of the wines he tasted at the 2014 Colorado Governor’s Cup “Judgment of Denver” wine competition. While some describe the Colorado wine industry as a growing one, Wianarski was adamant in his contention that it is “all grown up.”