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Enjoy Colorado Wines
Do you remember hearing that the best wines are now coming from California?
Forget everything you've heard about California wine and listen, on my summer vacation I discovered one of the best wine growing areas in the United States. And it's not on the West Coast.
As it happens, my daughter asked me to take a trip with her to look at a piece of property on the Western Slope of Colorado that she and her husband were interested in. She needed my expertise with evaluating the condition of the business that accompanied the house and land.
"Just what is this business?" I asked her. She replied that it was a vineyard. I had to think of that for a moment. I have my college degree in horticulture and a vineyard has always been my dream. But I would have never expected this of my daughter.
She knew that I have planted grapes wherever I've lived. A few grapevines in the backyard, one or two growing up the side of the house, or a couple hundred to experiment with when I've had the land to do it.
Now, I was being told that she wanted to live my dream come true. I questioned her as we drove across the Rocky Mountains towards her new dream. Things like, "Do you know what this is going to take?" "Have you seen me struggle to get my grapes to grow under the Colorado Front Range conditions?"
As we came down in altitude, entering the Western Slope fruit growing area, I began to understand her desire to own a vineyard and expand it to support a small winery.
This area is truely a fruit growing delight. Vineyards and orchards flowing over the mesas of the Colorado Western Slope region. Cherries, peaches, apples, and of course grapes.
Unlike the eastern side of Colorado, the Western Slope has a climate that is conducive to growing all sorts of fruit crops. The noble European grape, V. vinifera, is well adapted to this fruit growing region.
Now listen closely! The wines I found being made in the small family wineries of the Colorado Western Slope turned out to be pure gems! Why? Because of the warm days and cool nights of this region. This climate is perfect for growing grapes and making award winning wines.
There are also two American Viticulture Areas: the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA along the Colorado Western Slope. Each producing distinctive wines because of their slightly different climatic conditions.
In Delta County, a cooler climate, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and other colder-climate German varietals work best. In the warmer Mesa County, Rhône varieties like Syrah and Viognier, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties, are suitable.
I've sampled the wines from both regions and I have to tell you that I'm love struck with what I found. While the West Elk AVA between Paeonia and Delta seems to produce the best whites, there are also Cab Franc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot wines from that region which are "to die for" wines.
The Grand Valley AVA from Grand Junction to Palisades produces red wines that rival any California reds. The recent trend in this area is to grow more Rhone varieties like Syrah and Viognier and these compliment the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that has long had a reputation in that area. This region also boasts some of the best Chardonnay's in the state.
Many wineries have vineyards in both viticulture appellation areas. I've found that the top wines are blends of grapes grown in both counties. Reisling is a good example of this blending. It can get it fully ripe in Mesa County, with some non-traditional peach and apricot flavors. In Delta County, it’s hard to get it to 20º Brix, but it has this really good acidity and spicy flavor. The blend of the two together gives a hypnotic sensation to your palate.
It's truely up to the wine maker's abilities to make the most of the grapes grown in this unique winemaking region.
Just picture this for a moment... The Colorado wine industry is in its infancy. New vineyards and wineries are being added each year as its reputation spreads. The wines made in Colorado are only going to get better as the wine makers learn more about the grapes they are growing and perfect their trade.
You're probably wondering where you can find out more about these exciting wines. It just so happens that the Colorado wine industry has a web site at: http://www.coloradowine.com that can lead you to all the Colorado wine information you want.
The next time you're looking for something new in wine, consider one of the enchanting wines from the Western Slope of Colorado. You won't be disappointed.
Now that you're at the end of this article you're just minutes away from wanting to jump in your car and run down to get a bottle of some wonderful Colorado wine.
Unfortunately, most wines made in the state are sold locally and are not found in your local liquor store. But the good news is that most can be bought online. Take a look at the coloradowine.com site and find the wineries and the wines you are looking for.
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