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DrinkLocalWine bringing its message to Colorado

By Dave Buchanan

We (meaning you and I) have known this for several months but now it’s “official”: the Internet-based DrinkLocalWine.com is bringing its annual conference next year to Colorado.

Well, Denver, anyway, since there’s no indication of any formal activities planned for what really is Colorado wine country.

Here’s what the press release says about Colorado hosting DLW’s fourth annual event: “The state’s industry is one of the most unique in the wine business; its high altitude produces growing conditions that are different from all but two or three other regions in the world.”

The encomia continue with such statements as “Colorado’s wineries grow European-style grapes, and have had tremendous success with cool-climate grapes like Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Cabernet Franc.”

Well, other than the fact that most of Colorado’s wineries don’t grow their own grapes, “European-style” (whatever that is) or otherwise, the release is pretty accurate and certainly welcome, at least in the eyes of the state wine industry.

“Our excitement about hosting the Drink Local Wine conference in Denver in 2012 runs a mile high,” the release quoted Doug Caskey, the ebullient executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

The Colorado conference is set for the April 27-29 at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, since most of the state’s wineries are spread like grape jam along the Front Range.

And wine drinkers, too, one would guess.

The goal of DLW is to bring attention to regional wines from the 47 states that produce wine other than California, Washington and Oregon. Previous conferences have been held in Texas, Virginia and most recently St. Louis, all of which enjoyed a surge in their visibility thanks to the DLW’s enthusiasm and wide-spread audience.

Lest you think I’m getting curmudgeonly, here’s the disclaimer: Having DrinkLocalWine.com focus its ether-net eyes and fingers on our state’s wine industry is a terribly good thing.

Speaking of curmudgeon, DrinkLocalWine.com was developed by wine writers Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post and the always-entertaining blogger Jeff Siegel, self-portrayed “The Wine Curmudgeon."

The two met several years ago while on a wine trip to South America, struck up a friendship and found they shared a passion for appreciating regional wines, most of which are ignored by the Big Press.

In a story on the St. Louis conference that appeared on Wine Business.com, writer Lisa Shara Hall recounted, “The weekend is fully packed with regional identity.”

Considering Missouri grows mostly hybrid grape varieties, rather than the more-familiar vitis vinifera (earlier referred to as “European-style” grapes) regional identity is extremely important in developing a wine industry.

Colorado, as you know, produces most wines from the European grape varieties rather than hybrids, although several winemakers (Guy Drew of Cortez among them) are propagating hybrid varietals better suited to Colorado’s fickle climate.

The press release (you can read it on the DrinkLocalWine.com site) lists some of the planned activities, including seminars on Colorado wines and the Colorado Wine Challenge, “where contestants will get a chance to blind taste Colorado and California wines and see if they can tell the difference.”

Whoa, Hoss. I’m confused about this part.

Are the wineries penalized or awrded depending on whether the judges/contestants/whatever can tell the difference? Is it woe to the contestants who can’t tell the difference?

One would think (at least this one writing here) that there should be a difference between Colorado and California wines. Maybe the release meant to say “hoping they can tell the difference.”

These are Colorado wines, bringing whatever is unique to Colorado to the bottle and glass.

If I wanted a California wine, I’d move to Cupertino.

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