Beer Steps Aside for Colorado Wine

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boulderfwfest.jpgBy Robert Farmer

Boulder, Colorado: If you're like me, the beverage you equate most with the Rockies is beer - one particular type of beer, more likely. For as long as anyone can remember, the taste of the Rocky Mountains was a hops-and-barley taste. Beer in Colorado is king. That is, until now.


Like each of its 49 neighbor states, Colorado, too, has an emerging wine industry. And now that industry is starting to inch into the territory of its dominant sister beverage. While it will certainly be some time before beer is replaced on the throne, wine in Colorado is proving to be a worthy prince.
Though it might seem an unsuitable environment for growing grapes (what, with all the snow and all), there are in fact some exceptional growing regions in the Mile High State. So suitable, in fact, that in the past five years the number of wineries in the state has more than doubled to approximately 70 wineries. Most vineyards in Colorado are found in the temperate, high elevation river valleys and mesas of Mesa and Delta counties. With good soil and favorable climate in these regions, the biggest challenge to growers is the altitude, which allows for a short frost-free growing season of between 150 and 182 days. That's a far cry from the seasons enjoyed in most other US wine regions. Even so, Colorado has lately been producing a range of varietals, including some interesting chardonnays and merlots.

And so it follows in the wake of a growing industry that a festival gets underway to celebrate it. The spectrum of Colorado's wine industry will be on hand at the Boulder Wine & Food Festival this weekend (June 28), featuring wines from 27 of the state's producers paired alongside fare from the best dining spots in and around Boulder.

It may be too late of notice for you to make it to Boulder, but I thought it was still worth pointing out that not all food and drink festivals in Colorado are sudsy. Some have a nice bouquet.

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