For much of last week I was in the beautiful state of Colorado having a wonderful time supporting and participating in the 4th annual DrinkLocalWine.com conference. What was a successful event in Virginia two years ago, shined the spotlight on the local food and wine industry of Colorado this year. I arrived in Colorado a few days early to take full advantage of a quick trip to the Western Slope. The Western Slope is approximately four hours west of Denver and is where most of the state's wine grapes are grown. Both the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA are along the Colorado Western Slope and have a climate conducive to many fruit crops, including European grape varieties. Planting wine grapes further east, like in the Front Range area [e.g. Denver, Boulder], for example, is risky business due to vine-killing freezes. The Western Slope has some of the highest vineyards in North America and its low humidity results in low disease pressures – a common problem some US wine producing regions further east face; particularly Virginia. The biggest vineyard challenge Colorado faces is frost. At one point during the Colorado’s Terroir and the Challenges of High Altitudes seminar, Horst Caspari, professor and state viticulturist at Colorado State University, said, “If I was only interested in money, I'd plant peaches, not grapes.”
Row 14 Bistro and Wine Bar ... A Place to Eat/Drink Local
The day before take-off, a few of us who arrived early had the pleasure of meeting up at Row 14 Bistro and Wine Bar with Doug Caskey, a leading Colorado wine advocate and executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, and Kyle Schlachter, who I call a jack-of-all-trades – even social media. Row 14 Bistro and Wine Bar is a swanky and sophisticated, yet down-to-earth wine bar located in downtown Denver. Row 14’s executive chef, Jensen Cummings, who also sat in on the “Local Food and Local Wine” Colorado seminar, is deeply passionate about preparing locally raised and grown ingredients and showcasing quality regional wines from the area. During my two visits to Row 14 (yes it was so nice I had to do it twice), I ate and drank local and the food and wine experience was exceptional. One pairing of note was the Espelette Marinated Rabbit and Garfield Estate 2009 Syrah. The latter is a small producer in Palisade, CO, (within the Grand Valley AVA) that I had an opportunity to later visit. For 2009, they produced a well-made flavorful and bright (good food-friendly acid) Syrah with white pepper and spice nuances that marries nicely with the rabbit – totally complementing, not overwhelming the dish. The second dinner was hosted by representatives from Nomacorc; a manufacturer of advanced synthetic wine closures. Fun factoid: One out of every three bottles of wine produced in the US is closed with Nomacorc’s patented synthetic closures.
Wine Bloggers Invade the Western Slope
By the time morning came, several more friends arrived in Colorado and we (Doug Caskey @1winedude @chiefwino @winecompass @winett and @terroiristblog ) packed up and jumped into a rather comfortable 10 passenger turbo prop (and yes, some were nervous… but not me) and headed out to the Western Slope. After landing we paid a visit to Stone Cottage Cellars; a small producer situated at an elevation of 6,300 feet. Stone Cottage Cellars is located in the West Elks AVA and run by a husband-and-wife team. They will be the central theme of the next blog post. In closing, I’m still trying to figure out how someone with the Twitter handle @terroiristblog got to sit in the cockpit next to the pilot [WTH --- LOL]. There will be more on Colorado wine and food to come, friends. Cheers!
Next up: Stone Cottage Cellars
Click Here to visit Row 14 Bistro and Wine Bar website.
Click Here to visit Stone Cottage Cellar's website.
Click Here to visit the DrinkLocalWine website.
Click Here to visit the Colorado wine website.
Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at email@example.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come.
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