Colorado's Western Slope Recognized Nationally as a Top Wine Destination

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Colorado Wine Board elated that names Grand Junction, CO as best alternative wine destination to Napa Valley.

photo: Armando Martinez

The vineyard sites are rugged, diverse and picturesque—producing award-winning wines.--Jenne Baldwine-Eaton, winemaker, Plum Creek

Colorado is continuing to gain national recognition for its exceptional wine production and wine tourism. The Colorado Wine Industry Development Board announced today that Grand Junction has just been named by as the up-and-coming wine destination alternative to Napa Valley. Considered the heart of Colorado wine country, Grand Junction offers a picturesque backdrop of the Grand Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), along with many activities and lodging options. The region is a great getaway for hiking, mountain biking, and of course, wine touring.

“This is a well-deserved recognition for the Grand Valley AVA which continues to surprise and delight a growing number of visitors from all over the country,” said Doug Caskey, “After visiting the scenic region and experiencing a wide range of delicious wines at small boutique wineries and hand-farmed vineyards, visitors liken their experience to that of Napa Valley many years ago.”

Colorado wines have experienced an annual growth of 16 percent over the last 20 years – significantly greater than industry average. The state boasts over 130 wineries and nearly 1,000 acres of some of the highest elevation vineyards in the world. The majority of the state’s grapes are grown west of the continental divide, in Colorado’s Grand Valley AVA. This region, where Colorado‘s wine industry originated, has repeatedly been acclaimed as one of the nation’s top destinations for wine travel. From USA Today, Mashable, New York Times, Sunset Magazine, Trip Advisor and Snooth – and now – Colorado has received substantial recognition for the allure of its wineries and vineyards.

“What an honor to have the Grand Valley AVA named as an alternative destination to the world-renown Napa Valley,” stated Barbara Bowman, division manager of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau. “The Bureau branded Colorado Wine Country in 1999 with the hope that it would indeed grow from the then three wineries to the current count of 22 tasting rooms open year-round that surprise the palates of even the most discerning wine aficionados. We welcome guests with all levels of interest in wine to come explore a different side of Colorado, one where the desert meets the mountains creating the perfect environment to produce luscious wine.”

Along the Colorado River, the Grand Valley is optimal for grape growing. Surrounded by the majestic beauty of red rock cliffs and mesas and anchored by the monolithic Colorado National Monument on the west, this region boasts more than 25 wineries and in excess of 500 acres of vineyards. The fertile soil at the base of the Rockies and more than 300 days of sunshine annually create ideal conditions for wine cultivation.

“Here in the Grand Valley, we are growing grapes in an arid high-desert climate, at an elevation of 4,700 to 4,900 feet above sea level,” said Jenne Baldwin-Eaton, winemaker at Plum Creek Cellars. “This translates to a lot of direct sunlight on the grapes and cool night time temperatures. The vineyard sites are rugged, diverse and picturesque—producing award-winning wines that have wonderful fruit intensity, good acid structure and a terroir-driven distinction that can’t be found anywhere else.”

Visiting Grand Valley’s wine country in the fall means fewer crowds and cooler temperatures. Many of the vineyards are family-owned, creating a unique and personalized wine experience unlike anywhere else. A visit to Colorado’s wine country is accompanied by warm hospitality, and the chance to learn about Colorado’s grapes and harvest process from the most knowledgeable winemakers in the industry.

The region is also the site of the state’s largest annual wine festival: Colorado Mountain Winefest, which takes place in Palisade over the third weekend of September every year, attracting thousands of visitors. With rows upon rows of vines in Palisade, and recreational activities for the whole family in Grand Junction, a trip to Colorado’s Western Slope is sure to be a hit.

Popular Grand Junction and Western Slope vineyards offering tours and tastings include Avant Vineyards, Carlson Vineyards, Grande River Vineyards, Two Rivers Winery and Chateau, Whitewater Hills Vineyards and many others. The 2015 harvest is one of the best Colorado has seen in years, having enjoyed a relatively mild growing season combined with ample moisture. Much of Colorado avoided the late season frosts and harsh winter damage that curtailed recent vintages. Visit for a complete list of top-notch Western Slope wineries and to plan a visit this season.

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

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Courtney Lis
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