Colorado Wine Travel Guide

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 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, which Trip Advisor’s listed as of the Best Wine Destinations, alongside Napa, Sonoma and Willamette Valley. And, to everywhere in-between.

Traveling to Colorado? Make sure to see Carpe Travel's Colorado wine travel guide for ideas on where to sip, stay and things to do beyond the vines.

Short History of Colorado Wine

In 1881 George A. Crawford, who later became the Colorado Governor founded Grand Junction. He was the first one to see the Grand Valley’s potential for grape production and planted 60 acres of vines on Rapid Creek above Palisade, along the Colorado River. In 1890, 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 the Colorado General Assembly enacted the Colorado Limited Winery Act to permit small “farm wineries.” Wine production on Colorado had been reborn.
Today Colorado is home to two designated AVA’s that produce 90 percent of the state’s wine grapes.
  • The Grand Valley along the Colorado River between Palisade and Grand Junction.
  • The West Elks along the North Fork of the Gunnison River between Paonia and Hotchkiss.

In the last five years, wine production in Colorado has increased by 70 percent, and for good reason. The growing conditions are excellent! Colorado grapes grow in regions that range from 4,000-7,000 feet, making these vineyards some of the highest in the world – only below Argentina. With 300 days of sunshine blended with Colorado’s high altitude, the climate consists of warm days and cool nights, perfect conditions for growing grapes.

Colorado Wineries Canyon Wind Cellars

Colorado Wine Trails

Colorado is home to two designated AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), one is located the Grand Valley near Grand Junction, and the other in West Elks near Paonia and Hotchkiss. Tasting rooms, however are setup state-wide. From the downtown urban wine trail to Boulder, Colorado Springs, Breckenridge and up to Grand Junction and over to West Elks. The state of Colorado boasts 80 wineries across the state and 120 licensed grape growers.

To explore all the wineries see the following map, or visit Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.


Where to Sip

Continental Divide Winery in Breckenridge offers a fun and unique wine blending expereince.


Blend. Blend. Bottle. Cork. A Colorado Wine Blending Experience at Continental Divide Winery in Breckenridge is one of the coolest things do in Breck, besides skiing.

The best wine in Colorado according to the Governor’s Cup Competition

Weekend Wine Tasting in Denver


We’re busy bottling more of this information, so stay tuned!


Where to Stay

Grand Valley


Colorado Wine Festivals and Events

Looking for wine festivals and events in Colorado? The most update, annual events can be found here and here. Top annual events not to miss include:

Denver International Wine Festival
Named by Fodor’s Travel as one of the top 10 wine festivals not to miss, the 14th Annual Denver International Wine Festival is a must. It’s become the premier International Wine & Food Festival in the Rocky Mountains.

Telluride Wine Festival
Since 1981, Telluride has hosted the prestigious Telluride Wine Festival. The festival is a beautiful gathering of the local culinary community, enthusiastic visitors, vintners and chefs from around the world. Also happening within the four days of world-class wines and cuisine are amazing modern-cuisine, cooking classes, a “Celebration of Colorado” featuring local wines and spirits, cooking demonstrations, cocktail classes and samplings of unique and deliciously prepared foods.

Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival
The Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival takes place each July, which is THE perfect time of year to visit this scenic and captivating area. The festival features a selection of seminars, fine dining Winemaker dinners, the signature event, the Grand Tasting, which presents over 500 select wines from 25 wineries and distributors, food demonstrations, and more.

Breckenridge Wine Festival
The Breckenridge Wine Festival is a unique wine and small bites festival held in the heart of the Rocky Mountains during the summer. Indulge in exciting wine seminars taught by master sommeliers and food pairings that will tantalize the taste buds as you take in the amazing mountain views.

Breckenridge Wine Classic
The Breckenridge Wine Classic is a premier destination event each autumn where master winemakers, culinary greats, and our distinguished guests gather to play, wine, and dine in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Colorado Mountain Winefest
Colorado Winefest has been voted the Best Wine Festival in the U.S. by USA Today’s 10Best and for good reason. The “Festival in the Park” is the state’s largest and oldest wine festival featuring dozens of Colorado wineries, live music, a grape stomp, chef demonstrations and seminars.

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen
Each year, FOOD & WINE hosts its FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, which has become one of the nations premier culinary events with the world’s most accomplished winemakers, celebrity chefs, and culinary experts coming together in one breathtaking setting – the base of Aspen Mountain. Foodies will delight in the range of food and wine offerings both in the grand tasting pavilion as well as the carefully curated seminars.

Taste of Vail
In its 27th year, the Taste of Vail has been rated among the nation’s best spring food and wine festivals by Forbes, USA Today and The Travel Channel. During this year’s annual, four-day event as many as 5,000 people are expected to taste, sip and soak in the Vail Valley. The event features world-class restaurants, fine wine poured by winemakers and winery owners from renowned wineries throughout the world, interactive cooking seminars, the iconic Mountain Top Tasting sensory extravaganza at the top of Vail Mountain, and the famous Grand Tasting auction as well as other exciting events.

Manitou Springs Wine Festival
Spend your day just outside of Colorado Springs in the charming and quirky town of Manitou Springs for the annual wine festival. Over 30 state-wide wineries offer tastings along with live music, food trucks and local vendors inside Manitou’s Memorial Park.

Great American Beer Festival
Ok, we know it’s not wine but it’s super fun and is the largest collection of U.S. beer ever served, in a public tasting event plus a private competition. With Colorado being king of craft beers, it only makes sense to hit the GABF to explore craft beers from around the U.S. and the world.

Meet the Makers—Colorado Winemakers

Interviews with winemakers who are shaping Colorado's wine region.

Colorado Wine Resources

Full List of Colorado Wineries

There are two official organizations that support the Colorado wine industry, but many other “unofficial” groups. For historical information, updated wineries and other industry updates visit the following.

Beyond the Vines: Things to see and do besides sipping wine…

More Suggestions on Things to do in Colorado

The World on My Necklace: How to Have the Perfect Weekend in Denver During Summer

The Crazy Tourist: 15 Best Things to Do in Colorado