State Profile: Colorado Wine Country

Colorado Mountain Winefest was voted Best Wine Festival in the USA by USA Today, and Wine Enthusiast rated Colorado as one of the Top 10 Wine Getaways in the World.

Skiing? Of course. Wine? Surprise!

 Colorado wine has come a long way in a short time, largely due to the consistent efforts of the state-run Colorado Wine Industry Development Board and the private non-for-profit Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE). In fact, CAVE’s Executive Director, Cassidee Shull, was recently honored as a 2024 Leader in Agriculture by the Denver Business Journal and Colorado Farm Bureau for her tireless efforts to promote the state’s grape and wine industry. Besides organizing the popular Mountain Winefest, she orchestrates the annual VinCO Conference and Trade Show.

The Denver Broncos’ “Mile High Stadium” is a reminder of much of the state’s elevated altitude, and its vineyards are often at 4,000 to 7,000 feet, among the highest in the world. Most wineries are on the Western Slope of the Rockies, but an increasing number are on the Front Range to the east.  Grand Valley and West Elks are the two AVA’s.

BookCliff Vineyards in Palisade is the creation of three couples who combine Colorado roots with inspiring wine-related experiences in California, Oregon and Washington. They have a tasting room and winery in Boulder offering barrel room dinners, plus a tasting room and vineyard in Palisade with a wide variety of grapes. They also have a very impressive string of top medals not only from the Colorado Governor’s Cup but also the Los Angeles International, San Francisco International, and Jefferson Cup competitions, among others.

Snowy Peaks Winery, with great views of the Rockies from its location near Rocky Mountain National Park, is a community-minded operation, featuring not only their own wines but those from other Colorado wineries, along with local gourmet foods and gifts. Their wide range of wines offers plenty of options, and they have a special Philanthropy program as an integral part of their operation.

Two Rivers Winery and Chateau, nestled between the gateways of the Colorado National Monument, is a relatively young (1999) and small (15 acres, 14,000 cases) operation, but one with plenty of awards for its Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Syrah. Owners Bob and Billie Witham also welcome visitors to the Wine Country Inn with the feel of a Country French Chateau.

Great Grapes: Syrah

France’s Rhone Valley, with its classic “Hermitage” red wine, is most famous for Syrah, but it has also found welcoming homes in Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and several parts of the United States including Colorado. Often spicy and complex in aroma and taste, Syrah is a frequent favorite at major wine competitions.

Wine’s Economic Impact in Colorado

Total Impact includes the Direct, Supplier, and Induced levels reaching from vineyards to local communities, benefiting people and places far and wide.