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Colorado Wines - A Well Kept Secret

Vineyards in Colorado may just be the highest in elevation in the United States. And the Colorado wines made from these high altitude grapes reflect the region. In the Grand Valley AVA area, most vineyards are situated at around 4,500 feet Within Delta County to the southeast of Grand Junction, in the West Elks AVA, the vineyards are approximately 1,000 feet higher, with the highest at a 6,400 foot elevation.

This arid mesa country is not where you would suspect to find vineyards and wineries. But focus on just the winery and the vineyards surrounding it and you could be in California. Turn around and gaze past the vines towards the mesas beyond and you know that you're somewhere else.

Colorado wines are not nationally known as they are one of the best kept secrets in the wine world. Little known are the two American Viticultural Areas of Colorado, the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA. The Grand Valley is noted mainly for its reds and the West Elks for its whites.

Colorado has a diversity of terrain, topography, and climate. It is in the milder western slope where the grapevine has found a home. Grape growing in predominantly found in the Grand Valley to the west of Grand Junction around Palisades, in Delta and Montrose Counties, and in the Four Corners region. The growing season is a little shorter than in California, but sunshine isn't a problem at this elevation and the greater amount of UV light along with the warm days has a positive effect on the wines when combined with the cool nights in this region.

Very few wines you will encountered here are of less than commercial quality. Most are interesting, if not identical to the same varieties grown in Europe or California. And some are award-winning and very good by any standard. Some have strange names like Tyrannosaurus Red to cover up the poorly named Lemberger grape variety, (aka "Blaufrankish" in Germany). But forgetting the name, you will find this a solid example of that unusual variety.

You'll find the Chardonnays, Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons from the Grand Valley all good quality, but I'm completely taken by the Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers from the West Elks growing area. You'll find these solid efforts with good aromatics. Even the wines approaching 3% residual sugar weren't overly sweet. Pinot Noir, which does poorly in the Grand Valley, has found a home in the higher elevation of the West Elks region.

Colorado wines are beginning to be discovered by wine connoisseurs and the secret of this wine producing area is getting out. The Colorado wine industry is beginning to mature and the wines that are produced here are gaining in quality with each year. Those tourists vacationing on the Western Slope find not only the wines that are appealing, but also the beautiful scenery and landscapes that they can survey from the various family owned wineries they encounter.

Discover Colorado wines while on your vacation this summer. Or just find out more about this region and its wines by going to: Colorado Wine Country

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