I was born and raised in Colorado and this is also the place I fell in love with wine. Colorado is a hub for great wine! We are only now starting to have chain retail in this state. As such, we have mostly independent retailers. This means that small-production wines make their way here often.
But what about the wines grown and produced here? I confess, until this past week I didn’t have much appreciation for the wines of my home state. I have tasted a few over the years but nothing has stood out and I, like many wine-lovers here, had sort of given up on the local selection.
Now, this is changing as industry pioneers reinvent consumer perception and enjoyment of Colorado wines with new offerings better suited to our unique climate. At the top of the game is Carboy Winery. Started in 2015 as a négociant (a winery that purchases grapes from growers to make wine), they have evolved into Colorado’s fastest-growing wine producer.
So what changed? It’s pretty simple. They understood that Colorado is Colorado, not Napa Valley. The Grand Valley AVA, located about 4 hours west of Denver, has vineyard sites sitting at an average of 4,700 feet. It snows here. It gets super hot here. The grape varieties that work in California can’t always cut it out here. I tasted unique, cold-hearty grape varieties at Carboy that I have never ever heard of! Things like Petite Pearl and Teroldego, as well as some we know well such as Merlot, Tempranillo, and Syrah.
The wines are expressive and thoughtfully made. Instead of trying to mask or make up for the unique conditions with massive oak they go for mostly neutral casks. It’s earth over fruit, old-world style over alcohol, acid over jam.
The Colorado industry is growing up and I’m so floored and excited to discover this new era of winemaking right here in my own backyard.
This is only the beginning…
Here are two of the five wines I brought home yesterday. I chose them because of their remarkable uniqueness and also, most importantly, deliciousness! I also brought home burrata and charcuterie from the adjoined Angelo’s Taverna to pair.
2018 Native Fizz Blanc
Sparkling Gruner Veltliner picked the first week of August in 2018
Handshake Acres Vineyard, Grand Valley, Colorado
Aromatic yeast strain, 16 months in triage, brut dosage
2018 Petite Pearl
From some of the highest altitude desert vineyards in North America
Cold-hearty hybrid variety well-suited to the hot days and cool nights of the microclimate
Medium-body and herbaceous; notes of plum and tomato vine, and earth
Thanks to Kevin, Jason, and the winemaking team for your time with me sharing your story and your wines. #ColoradoProud