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Discover Colorado

Wine Country

Our Colorado Wine Country Travel Guide shares a brief history of the state’s wine country, terroir, where to sip, where to stay and things to do beyond the vines

Colorful Colorado is known for its majestic mountains, world-class ski resorts and tons of breweries. But for all the wine connoisseurs out there, Colorado is also home to two designated American Viticultural Areas (AVAs, wine growing regions) and more than 80 wineries, many of which produce award-winning wines.

This Colorado Wine Country Travel Guide is designed to help you explore Colorado’s wine scene. Be it downtown Denver’s urban wineries, to the wine country in the Grand Valley, and everywhere in-between.

WHERE IS COLORADO WINE COUNTRY?

The Grand Valley AVA runs along the Colorado River between Palisade and Grand Junction. The West Elks AVA runs along the North Fork of the Gunnison River between Paonia and Hotchkiss. The wine regions are fairly close to one another.

Best Times to Visit

Early Fall is harvest. Temperatures are still warm, yet not boiling during the day making patios and picnics the perfect pairing. This is peak season, if you can travel during the week, you’ll find lower prices. Summer is a great time to visit for outdoor activities but the day time temperatures are hot!

AVAs in Colorado - wine regions in Colorado

TERROIR

Colorado has some of the highest elevations of vineyards – not just in the United States, but the entire world! Argentina is the only wine region with a higher elevation than Colorado. Most of the vineyards in the state are between 4,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level.

Colorado is blessed with warm days, cool nights and low humidity. This combined with  vineyards at high elevation pairs perfectly for viticulture. The state is home to two AVA’s – The Grand Valley AVA and The West Elks AVA.

The Grand Valley AVA, is the larger of the two Colorado wine regions and home to the town of Palisade, which is considered the heart of the Colorado wine region. More Colorado Wine 101.

TOP GRAPE VARIETIES

WHITE WINE GRAPES

  • Chardonnay
  • Riesling
  • Viognier

RED WINE GRAPES

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Syrah

POUR INTO MORE ABOUT THE GRAPES OF COLORADO

HISTORY

The Grand Valley in Colorado was nominated as one of the top 10 wine destinations in the entire world in Wine Enthusiasts 2018.

George A. Crawford, who later became the Colorado Governor founded Grand Junction, was the first person to see the Grand Valley’s potential for grape production. In 1881 he planted 60 acres of vines on Rapid Creek above Palisade, along the Colorado River. Wine production in Colorado was born. Like all states within the U.S. production came to a screeching halt in 1920 when Prohibition took effect. It wasn’t until 1977 that wine production in Colorado began to bud again.

SIP IN MORE COLORADO WINE HISTORY

WHERE TO SIP

Colorado is home to more than 150 wineries statewide, with more than 10 urban wineries in downtown Denver.

Creekside
Cellars

Colterris
Winery

Bookcliff
Vineyards

BEST COLORADO WINERIES TO SIP IN

Denver Wineries Totally Worth Sipping-In – Best Palisade Wineries

MUST SIP COLORADO WINE FESTIVALS

PLANNING YOUR COLORADO WINE COUNTRY VACATION

Photo Provided by Boar’s Head Resort

WHERE TO STAY

  • Spoke & Vine, Palisade
  • Wine Country Inn, Palisade
  • Red Arrow Inn & Suites, Delta

ITINERARIES

We have a few wine tasting itineraries so you can sit back and sip in all that the Colorado wine country has to offer.

GETTING AROUND

Rent a car and do it yourself? Hire a driver? Uber? How to determine your wine country transportation options.

WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING COLORADO WINE COUNTRY

BEYOND THE VINES

Burger Night on the Vineyard at Maison la Belle Vie Winery is a treat for the whole family! The outdoor patio offers stunning views of the surrounding vineyards with the Bookcliffs as the backdrop while live music fills the air.

Float the Colorado River. The two-hour float trip takes you down the Colorado River where you can view different vineyards and orchards (April to October). You can also rent a kayak, paddle board or canoe instead.

THINGS TO DO BEYOND THE VINES IN COLORADO WINE COUNTRY

Sip in More of Colorado

Elaine Schoch

Elaine N. Schoch

Elaine Schoch (pronounced the German way – Shock) is the editor and founder of Carpe Travel as well as an award-winning travel writer, wine judge, certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 and certified American Wine Expert. She is married to The Husband and has two kids, Princess One and Two – who’s interest and knowledge in wine is quite extensive. Not to mention the stamps in their passports.