While many know Colorado as a big craft beer state (fifth place ranking in the United States for number of craft breweries) and the founding place of Coors, its place on the nation’s wine map continues to expand. Just as some people prefer an IPA to a stout, some folks are more sauvignon black than merlot. What’s a meeting and event planner to do?
In many cases, it’s taking the local route to get people to chill out on their preferences and give different beverages (and foods) a try. It doesn’t mean they will change their minds, but tastings create conversation, especially if you can get a brewmaster or vintner in on the discussion. Last fall at the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in Pueblo, we had a variety of Colorado wines, beers, spirits and even hard kombucha to indulge in at the opening reception and awards dinner. The same is often true for meeting and event association gatherings such as the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado Educational Conference and Trade Show and the Customer Appreciation Event and Colorado Meetings Showcase events hosted by Destination Colorado Meetings.
But my purpose here is to focus more on Colorado wines and why they should be part of a gathering. The Colorado Wine Industry Development Board (CWIDB) represents the state’s 170 wineries, meaderies, and wine tasting rooms and is optimistic about the 2022. With new producers, 90-plus point ratings from Wine Enthusiast, a strong grape crop, and recognition as one of the top unique wine regions in the country, there is a lot to toast. CWIDB is also bringing back in-person judging for its 2022 Governor’s Cup Competition, which brings wine experts to Denver in August and is the only wine-making competition exclusively for Colorado wines.
In the past year, Colorado has climbed the ranks as a top wine destination in the country. Wine Enthusiast identified The Infinite Monkey Theorem based in Denver as one of the best urban wineries in the U.S., Hemispheres Magazine called out Palisade as a wine region to watch, Forbes noted the economic growth the wine industry has brought to Colorado, and HuffPost listed the Grand Valley as a top U.S. wine destination as an alternative to Napa and Sonoma.
The proof is also in the numbers. Wine Enthusiast recently reviewed 21 Colorado wines, which received an average score of 88.2. Seven wines received 90 points or higher, all in the red category. Four are from Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City and the other three are produced by The Infinite Monkey Theorem, BookCliff Vineyards in Palisade and Boulder, and Carboy Winery, Colorado’s fastest growing winery with two vineyards and tasting rooms in Denver, Littleton, Breckenridge and Palisade all since 2015.
Carboy Winery opened its Palisade tasting room this spring with a patio overlooking its vineyard and Mt. Garfield. Ben Parsons, founder of The Infinite Monkey Theorem, has introduced The Ordinary Fellow, a new winery and tasting room at the historic United Fruit Growers COOP peach packing shed in Palisade. The first winery to receive a license in Colorado after Prohibition in 1933, A. Carbone & Co, is being revived in Mosca by Anthony Carbone’s great grandson, who also happens to be opening San Luis Valley Distillery.
According to Colorado State University Viticulturist Dr. Horst Caspari, the crops look healthy and a warm summer has pushed harvest up to an early start.
Top wines to consider
The Colorado Wine Industry Development Board will announce the winners of this year’s Governor’s Cup Wine Competition in September. The winning wines will be placed on the 2022 Governor’s Cup Collection, a selection of wines designed to highlight a dozen of the state’s top wines, which will be tasted for the public at Colorado UnCOrked on Nov. 4 at History Colorado Center in downtown Denver.
Why not do a tasting of these wines or put them and past winners on your next cocktail reception or awards dinner menu regardless of where you meet in Colorado? We did this for the Tourism Industry Association of Colorado’s legislative reception that I helped plan earlier this year. Or better yet, meet where the grapes are grown on Colorado’s Western Slope or at the wineries that dot the state. Many have meeting and event space. Cheers!