Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are close to perfect as it can get for the cultivation of wine grapes. It gives the right character and chemistry to produce award-winning wines.
The history of grape growing and winemaking goes back to the latter part of the nineteenth century when grapes were planted in the western part of the state. When prohibition came along it almost killed Colorado’s wine industry. Modern history of winemaking goes back to 1968 with the start up of the Ivancie Winery.
Today there are over fifty wineries, and an average of three new ones open each year. Most vineyards exist in the western part of the state at the elevation of between 4,000 and 7,000 feet, which is known for it’s fine growing capability. The climate of Colorado’ wine country creates day-to-night temperature swings ranging from 25-30 degrees during the months of August and September the grape maturation months.
Warm daylight hours of the high-altitude sunlight initiate the fruit to mature completely and build natural sugars. The evening breezes, which are cooler, cause the grapes to retain the acids vital to premium winemaking. Colorado rainfall, which averages around 6-9 inches per year, and bone-dry relative humidity, is a vital constant. The anhydrous climate allows growers to optimize the amount of irrigation used. The cold winter temperatures and low humidity minimizes vineyard diseases, which reduces the need for pesticides.
If you’re interested in taking a tour of some of the Colorado wine vineyards consider the off-season. To begin you can start at the Tourist Information Booth off I-70 and Horizen Drive in Grand Junction and ask for wine tour information. Most wineries are open nearly every day all year and are within close proximity to each other.
In September each year in Palisade Colorado you can visit the Wine fest, which lasts four days in the heart of Colorado’s scenic wine country during the fall colors of the harvest.