Colorado: The next wine country

There's seriously good wine among Colorado's red rocks: 9 best wineries you've never heard of
Article by Eugenia Bone

By Eugenia Bone

I didn't even know wine existed in Colorado in 1998, when I moved from New York City to a run-down ranch near Grand Junction. But it took all of about one week to discover that I had relocated to the fringes of an extraordinary wine scene.

I quickly became hooked on the adventure of following funky little signs down dusty roads and finding gems, the realms of winemakers who had a dream to plant green vineyards among the red rocks.

Try one or all of our Colorado wine tours, and you'll be hooked too.

TRIP 1: THE GRAND VALLEY
For power tasters and spirit seekers

I was standing in the cup of a cliff formation at Colorado National Monument, looking out over the Grand Valley, when I heard, suddenly and dramatically, the sound of a huge bird ― eagle? pterodactyl? ― swooping over my head. I ducked and looked over the cliff edge to see where the bird had gone. There was no bird, but below me was a verdant vineyard, green and rich with vines.

Later that day, as I sipped a muscular Cabernet Sauvignon at Two Rivers Winery (one of 21 wineries in this most established of Colorado's appellations), I resisted telling the kind pourer that a winged spirit led me there. You just never know how that kind of story is going to come off. But I do feel there is a holy connection between the high drama of the Grand Valley's scenery and the region's many fine wines. Goût du terroir, indeed.

Carlson Vineyards
Carlson is an irreverent outfit, as evidenced by the kooky names of its wines (Prairie Dog Blush?). But that doesn't mean winemaking isn't taken seriously. Carlson regularly wins competitions ― the Riesling category in particular. INFO: Free tastings; 461 35 Rd., Palisade; 970/464-5554.

Grande River Vineyards
Backed up against the stunning Bookcliffs, Grande River, which has been making wine in this valley for 20 years, really shines with its Viognier. Persnickety and prone to disease, the grape thrives in the Grand Valley. INFO: Three free tastings, $3.50 total for more; 787 N. Elberta Ave., Palisade; 800/264-7696.

Two Rivers Winery
The vineyard and tasting room are beautifully located at the base of Colorado National Monument. The Cab is the real winner. INFO: Free tastings; 2087 Broadway, Grand Junction; 970/255-1471.

Next: Trip 2

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