The Colorado Wine Industry Anticipates a Robust 2015 Harvest Season

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A Mild, Moist Winter Yield's Big Rewards for Colorado Winemakers

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“The 2015 season has been a good recovery year for us. The previous two years we experienced tremendous damage in the vineyards from the harsh Colorado winters.” John Garlich, owner Bookcliff Vineyards, Boulder, CO

The long-awaited harvest season is just around the corner in Colorado’s wine country, with more than 130 Colorado wineries across the state gearing up for crush and bottling. Unlike last year, the 2015 harvest is expected to be a fruitful one, having enjoyed a relatively mild, cool, growing season with ample moisture. Much of Colorado avoided the late season frosts and harsh winter damage that curtailed recent vintages.

“It looks like we will have a good harvest – quantitatively this year,” said Horst Caspari, Professor & State Viticulturist at Colorado State University. “I expect harvest timing to be close to average this year (Early September—Mid November) with very little cold injury during the winter or spring. We should have at least as good a harvest as 2012 and 2009 - on a yield-per-acre basis.”

Thousands of wine lovers will make the annual pilgrimage to Colorado’s Western Slope to sample a growing array of Colorado wines and participate in a variety of events such as festivals, winery tours, winemaker competitions, shopping, concerts, grape stomps, and wine and food pairings.

“The 2015 season has been a good recovery year for us. The previous two years we experienced tremendous damage in the vineyards from the harsh Colorado winters,” said John Garlich of Bookcliff Vineyards. ” This season started out warm early, which normally would mean we would be harvesting very early but because we had a cool, rainy spring and moderate summer temperatures the harvest looks to be happening in normal time frame. We are looking forward to seeing how the vintage characteristics are expressed in the resulting wines. ”

The harvest is a good reminder of just how important the wine industry is to the state. Colorado is now home to over 130 licensed wineries and about 120 grape growers, who tend nearly 1,000 acres of vineyards. Colorado wineries produced 123,000 cases last year, which equaled an estimated $25 million in sales in fiscal year 2014. Once wine tourism was added to sales in a 2013 CSU economic impact study, the Colorado wine and grape industry generated more than $144 million in economic impact. The industry has sustained an average annual growth rate of nearly 15 percent over the last 22 years and provides 1,665 Colorado jobs.

"Colorado’s winemakers are feeling cautiously optimistic about this year’s crop," said Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. “Nature could still pose some significant challenges, but all indications point to a very good year both in terms of quality and quantity for the Colorado wine industry. While we will have to wait until the wine is in the bottle for a final determination, the winemakers are very excited about the potential."

With the harvest come myriad events throughout Colorado. Favorites include Durango Wine & Rails, the Annual Grape Stomp in Salida and The Colorado Mountain Winefest, all of which attract thousands of tourists each year.

The state’s largest and oldest wine festival is the 24th annual Colorado Mountain Winefest, presented by Alpine Bank, which takes place September 17-20 in Palisade. Attendees and volunteers alike travel from all over the country to take part in this exceptional event. The “Festival in the Park” takes place on Saturday, September 19 and features dozens of Colorado wineries, live music, a grape stomp, chef demonstrations and seminars. This year, event organizers plan to welcome more than 6,000 guests to the Western Slope throughout the weekend. For ticketing and information go to http://www.ColoradoWinefest.com.

About the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board
The Colorado Wine Industry Development Board is an agency of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, dedicated to promoting and furthering the development of Colorado’s grape growers and approximately 130 wineries. For additional information, visit http://www.coloradowine.com.

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Courtney Lis
@ColoradoWine
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