WINE COUN­TRY

West of 105 Magazine - - Drinking & Dining -

COLORADO MAY BE KNOW FOR MANY THINGS, BUT WINE TYP­I­CALLY ISN’T AMONG THEM. MAYBE IT SHOULD BE.

Colorado is syn­ony­mous with moun­tains. So much so that the moun­tains are the eco­nomic driver in the state. Peo­ple come year round to see, walk, ride, run and just be in them and com­mu­ni­ties sur­vive or thrive based on them. In ad­di­tion to the bik­ing trails, the ski runs, the scenic by­ways and the nu­mer­ous beau­ti­ful towns nes­tled among their peaks, the moun­tains give Colorado some­thing else - wine. And not just any wine, but good wine, award win­ning even.

Colorado's vine­yards range in el­e­va­tion from 4,000 to 7,000 feet mak­ing them some of the high­est in the world. In con­junc­tion with around 300 days of sun­shine ev­ery year, Colorado has ideal grow­ing con­di­tions for many grape va­ri­eties. Then there is the soil. It is gen­er­ally more al­ka­line which makes it more sim­i­lar to Europe than the more acidic soils of Cal­i­for­nia. This means that Colorado mer­lot tastes more like it does in Bordeaux than in Cal­i­for­nia. Sim­i­larly, syrahs are more like Rhone Val­ley reds than Aus­tralian shi­raz. The rel­a­tive lack of hu­mid­ity is an­other fac­tor as the dry cli­mate keeps prob­lems like pests and dis­eases to a min­i­mum which in turn means pes­ti­cides and other chem­i­cals are used much less fre­quently.

That isn't to say that wine grapes can be grown every­where, far from it. In fact, the per­fect storm of con­di­tions come to­gether in two main ar­eas, both of which have been des­ig­nated Amer­i­can Viti­cul­ture Ar­eas (AVAs) by the US gov­ern­ment - The Grand Val­ley and the West Elks. To­gether, these two AVAs pro­duce up­wards of 90 per­cent of the wine grapes grown in Colorado. The rest are grown in sev­eral pock­ets that have their own unique cli­mates and con­di­tions.

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