Wine region
Official nameState of Colorado
TypeU.S. state
Year established1876
CountryUnited States
Sub-regionsGrand Valley AVA, West Elks AVA
Climate regionContinental
Total area104,185 square miles (269,838 km2)
Size of planted vineyards1,000 acres (405 ha)[1]
Grapes producedCabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, Chardonel, Chardonnay, Cinsault, Gewurztraminer, Lemberger, Marechal Foch, Merlot, Muscat Canelli, Orange Muscat, Petit Verdot, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Riesling, Sangiovese, Sauvignon blanc, Semillon, Seyval blanc, Syrah, Viognier, Zinfandel[1]
No. of wineriesapprox 165
Wine produced178,000 cases

Colorado wine refers to wine made from grapes grown in the U.S. state of Colorado. Most of Colorado's vineyards are located on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, though an increasing number of wineries are located along the Front Range.

Geography and climate

Colorado's grape growing regions contain some of the highest elevation vineyards in the world, with most viticulture in the state practiced between 4,000 feet (1,219 m) and 7,000 feet (2,134 m) feet above sea level. The mountain climate ensures warm summer days and cool nights. Colorado is home to two designated American Viticultural Areas of the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA, where most of the vineyards in the state are located. Approximately 100 commercial wineries operate in Colorado and about 1,000 acres (405 ha) are planted to grapevines.[1] Other wine regions include: the Four Corners area near Cortez, near Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, and Durango; Pikes Peak/Arkansas River Valley near Salida, Canon City, and Manitou Springs; and the Front Range between Fort Collins and Castle Rock, with many wineries located in the Denver metropolitan area.


Grapevines were first brought to Colorado in the 19th century by miners in southern Colorado. The first agricultural record of vineyards was when Governor George A. Crawford, founder of Grand Junction planted 60 acres of grapes and other fruit near Palisade. Homegrown wine was once a part of life in Colorado as it was throughout America. Like in other areas Prohibition in the United States virtually wiped out the Colorado wine industry in the early twentieth century only to have it resurrected again in the 1960s. In 1968, Gerald Ivancie opened Ivancie Winery in Denver using grapes from California, but was instrumental in developing experimental plantings of premium wine grapes in and around the Grand Valley.[2] Ivancie's winemaker was Warren Winiarski, who was the first winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery and rose to fame when he won the Judgement of Paris (wine) tasting in 1976 for his Stag's Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V Cabernet Sauvignon.[3][4]

Colorado's Limited Farm Winery Act was passed in 1977. A decade later, Colorado was one of the first states to respond to California's offer to establish free trade among wineries and consumers through the Reciprocal Shipping Law, helping the re-emerging Colorado grape growing and winemaking industry.[5]

In 1990, with five operating wineries, the Colorado General Assembly created the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.[6] In 1991, the Grand Valley area near Palisade, Colorado, was recognized by the federal government as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). In 2001, the West Elks AVA was added as the second AVA. In 2010, there were approximately 115 commercial wineries in Colorado. In 2019, there are approximately 165 wineries - including 21 hard cider producers, 13 mead producers and 1 sake producer.

Every year, the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board hosts the Governor's Cup Competition; which is the only competition exclusively for Colorado wineries. The top wines from the competition comprise the Governor's Cup Collection which is used to showcase the industry to the public and the wine industry.


The most popular grapes grown in Colorado are varieties in the species of European grape Vitis vinifera. The most popular red varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. The most popular white varieties are Chardonnay, Riesling, and Viognier.[7]


Several Colorado wineries have been awarded scores of 90 points or above by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and The Wine Advocate.

In 2017, Colorado Mountain Winefest was voted the best wine festival in the U.S. by USA Today's "10Best".[8]

Also in 2017, Kyle Schlachter (Outreach Coordinator for the CO Wine Industry Development Board) was named one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine's 40 Under 40 Tastemakers because his efforts reflect the diversity and uniqueness of wine in the U.S.[9]

In 2018, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Colorado's Grand Valley AVA one of the Top Ten wine travel destinations in the world.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Colorado: Appellation Profile". Appellation America. 2007. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2007.
  2. ^ "This is Colorado Wine". Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.
  3. ^ Browning-Blas, Kristen (June 2, 2014). "Warren Winiarski: Colorado wine industry is "all grown up"". The Denver Post.
  4. ^ "The first flying winemaker..." Colorado Wine Press. May 12, 2014.
  5. ^ Schlachter, Kyle (January 1, 2012). "Colorado Wine Industry Enters a Higher State". The Wine Cellar Insider.
  6. ^ "Colorado Revised Statutes: Title 35, Article 29.5, Colorado Wine Industry Development Act" (PDF). Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 11, 2007.
  7. ^ "Fast Facts About The Colorado Wine Industry" (PDF). Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 7, 2018.
  8. ^ "Best Wine Festival (2017) - Colorado Mountain Winefest named Best Wine Festival". USA Today. 2017.
  9. ^ "40 Under 40 Tastemaker". Wine Enthusiast. 2018.
  10. ^ "Grand Valley, Colorado". Wine Enthusiast. 2018.