Road Trip: Colorado

By John ~ June 13th, 2008.

As we traveled through Colorado, we made several stops at wineries near Palisade, Colorado. We were impressed that each of the wineries we visited sold only Colorado grown grapes, offered complimentary tastings, had nice professional tasting rooms, and their wines were pretty good.

Our first stop was at Grande River Vineyards, Colorado’s oldest winery. Their production is about 8,000 cases per year, almost all sold in Colorado, although they can ship to Washington State. We tasted seven different wines with our favorite being the 2005 Grande River Syrah.

Our next stop was at Plum Creek Winery, a winery started in 1983 with production of about 15,000 cases per year, all sold in Colorado. Plum Creek will no longer even ship outside of Colorado, a shame since they have some good wines. We tasted five Plum Creek wines, our favorites being their 2006 Plum Creek Sauvignon Blanc, the 2006 Plum Creek Sangiovese, and the 2006 Plum Creek Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our final stop was at Graystone Winery, a Port house where we tasted three different ports. Our favorite was their Graystone Port III (2003 Cab/Merlot Ruby Port), a port that we believe will be even better with more time in the bottle.

In my opinion, Colorado is an emerging wine area that has good potential. They seem to be able to grow the popular international varietals and have a tourist base that is generally wine savvy. I’d like to come back in five years and see the progress they have made.

Since we tasted fifteen different wines, I have broken down the list into Quality rating categories. Under each Quality heading, the wine name will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2005 Grande River Syrah, $17, QPR: 5
2005 Grande River Late Harvest Viognier, $20, QPR: 5
2006 Plum Creek Sangiovese, $17, QPR: 5
2006 Plum Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, $17, QPR: 5
Graystone Port III (2003 Cab/Merlot Ruby Port), $23, QPR: 5

2006 Plum Creek Sauvignon Blanc, $11, QPR: 4

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
Graystone Port II (2002 Cab/Merlot Port), $23, QPR: 5
2003 Plum Creek Cabernet Franc, $12, QPR: 4
2001 Grande River Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $35, QPR: 3
2005 Grande River Viognier, $17, QPR: 2

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2002 Grande River Merlot, $13, QPR: NR
2004 Grande River Cabernet Sauvignon, $15, QPR: NR
2006 Plum Creek Merlot, $12, QPR: NR
Graystone Lipizzan White Port (2002 Pinot Gris Port), $22, QPR: NR

Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
2006 Grande River Sauvignon Blanc, $10, QPR: NR

Have you ever had Colorado wine? If so, how did you like it? What was your favorite?

Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Colorado Wine, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Merlot, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Port, Red Wine, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz/Syrah, Viognier, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Natalie MacLean | June 14th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I like the way you approach describing and rating wines: it’s clear and concise yet personal.

    I’d love to hear your suggestions for pairing wines like these with different dishes (for my online matching tool).


    Editor of Nat Decants Free Wine Newsletter

    Author of Red, White and Drunk All Over

  2. Dave Needham | May 7th, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Next time you are in Colorado, visit Balistreri Winery in north Denver. They make award winning wines and the winery is great fun to visit. Most of their grapes come from the Rocky Mountains western slopes.

  3. John | May 7th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for your suggestion. I’ll add Balistreri to my list for a future visit to the area.

  4. John | May 16th, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    On my way back from my trip to Texas Wine Country, I stopped in Denver to see my sister for a few days. While I was there, I took out a few hours one afternoon at your suggestion to visit Ballistreri in northeast Denver. It was fun to visit; the hospitality was great. We tasted almost twenty different wines without a tasting fee, which was great. Unfortunately, I thought most of the wines were fairly mediocre; although I did like the 2007 Colorado Syrah (Horse Mountain Vineyards) and the 2006 Colorado Cab (Hovde Vineyards), although they were a little pricey at $28 and $30 respectively.