Colorado Mountain Wine Festival: Grand Valley climate produces unique wines

Reporter Cristian Sida explores what makes Colorado wines so special.
Published: Sep. 17, 2022 at 10:13 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - On Saturday, Palisade hosted the Colorado Mountain Wine Festival, which brought people from all over the world to experience the wine scene in the Grand Valley.

“We are here celebrating our 31st annual Colorado Mountain Wine Festival,” said Cassidee Shull, Executive Director at Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology.

The Winefest highlighted a spectrum of flavors from various wineries across the state. “So the Colorado wine industry is really unique compared to California, Oregon, or New York,” said Shull.

Specifically, the wine industry in Palisade, and what makes it so unique? The changing weather patterns.

“We have, you know, the very hot days with intense sunlight to help ripen those fruit,” added Garrett Portra, Carlson Vineyards owner. “But then we also have the cool nights because we’re in that desert climate, and the temperature can drop down into the 60s.”

Portra said the Grand Valley climate preserves the acidity in the fruit, “We just love the fruit that’s produced by this valley, and we love making wine here.”

That creates an interesting flavor palette. “So they’re just well-balanced flavorful, fruit-forward wines,” said Portra.

“You also will have a very different tasting experience and with those larger wine industries,” explained Shull. ”We have very high elevation vineyards. We also have younger vines and a smaller number of wineries.”

The unique flavors put the Western Slope on the map. “I think the wine industry is super important here,” said Portra. “I mean, it’s been around since, you know, we’ve been here since the 80s. But it’s been around longer than that even, and it’s just a great draw for tourism to our valley.”

So next time you pop open a bottle of Palisade wine, know you’re tasting the changing climate of the Grand Valley.

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