Boulder Creek vintner wins national honor

Wine enthusiasts line up during the 2009 Colorado Mountain Winefest to sample some of the wines offered by Bouder Creek Winery. The winery’s 2006 VIP Reserve recently won a top award at the Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition.



There is nothing like an early Christmas present to make the holidays glow brighter, and this week Colorado wineries received several such gifts.

In an e-mail sent Monday to the state’s wineries, Doug Caskey of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board said winemaker Jackie Thompson of Boulder Creek Winery recently captured the state’s first Jefferson Cup Invitational Award.

The Jefferson Cup Invitational in Kansas City, Mo., is the only competition recognizing wineries from all of America’s wine regions. The event was founded by Doug Frost, one of only three people holding the titles of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine.

The 2009 competition featured wines from 29 states, with six states winning Jefferson Cup Awards. Boulder Creek was honored for its Bordeaux-style blend, VIP Reserve 2006.

Caskey also sent Web links to two recent articles mentioning Colorado wine. The links include Frost’s article in the Kansas City Start titled “Colorado Wines Most Likely to Succeed.”

Frost says Colorado wineries are producing “well-crafted gems” from vineyards “in a few pockets that seem ideal” for grape growing.

You can read the article at tiny.cc/AWIwE.

The other article is by Santa Rosa, Calif.-based wine writer Dan Berger. In an article titled “The Problem with Sweetness in Wines,” Berger says, “Terrific dry and medium-dry rieslings are being made in California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Ohio, New York, and even places like Colorado and Wisconsin(!).”

Berger’s article is available at tiny.cc/AR8ri.

While a one-word mention isn’t much, the point is not the quantity but the quality. That is, a lot of people read Berger’s columns and his newsletter, and you can only hope him mentioning Colorado reislings is enough to pique someone’s interest.

As any public relations person can vouch, there never are any promises (or there shouldn’t be, anyway) of how much or what kind of advertising you will get from a freebie press trip.

Caskey remembers a writers’ trip a couple of years ago when one of the writers for a national magazine openly disliked her visit to Colorado.

“She hated the trip, she hated the wine, and we never heard a word from her,” Caskey sighed. “It was a complete waste of our time and money.”

On the other hand, on that same trip was a food blogger of whom Caskey had never heard and didn’t know what to expect. It turned out the blogger, who was well-known among food circles, produced a highly complementary piece, and several well-known chefs who read the blog decided to put Colorado wines on their menus.

Simply because of what one man wrote.

“It’s a matter of putting yourself out there and hoping they like you,” Caskey said.

And having a thick skin.

On the more recent trip attended by Berger and Frost, there was writer Amy Reiley of The Tasting Panel magazine. In her article titled “Mile High Wine Country,” Reiley remarks how “tedious” it is to travel though Colorado’s mountains by car and how “as wine country, Colorado has a number of unique challenges and attributes.”

Reiley wisely notes that “Colorado winemakers must be very committed.”

She also writes that “what makes Colorado difficult also makes it appealing” and “Colorado’s wine country is dramatic, breathtaking and ripe for development as a tourist business.”

I’m sure that surprises the many Colorado winemakers, as well as the folks at the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, all of whom already spend ample time and money promoting the area’s wine-oriented tourism.

Reiley praises Colorado wines as “some of the best values in American wine, with elegant Merlots, Burgundian Chardonnays and undeniably world-class Rieslings.”

But she also notes that the “industry’s biggest challenge is a lack of supply to meet potential national demand.”

Finally, Reiley notes a “bit of misperception among Colorado’s general public” because the state’s wine drinkers aren’t drinking Colorado wine.

For the record, in fiscal 2009, Colorado wines claimed less than 2 percent by volume and about 8 percent in dollar value of all wine sold in the state.

“After all,” Reiley says, “if Rocky Mountain wine isn’t embraced at home, why would anyone else want it?”


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