Upcoming wine tasting a reminder of local marvels

There may be no better way to develop a good foundation in the intricacies and intimacies of wines and winemaking than to visit wine regions, tour the wineries and meet the people behind the wines.

However, when you already live in a wine region, as we do in the Grand and North Fork valleys, the very proximity of wineries sometimes gets lost.

Just as you can glance at the skyline and see Grand Mesa without fully comprehending the beauty you see there, it’s easy to overlook the marvel of winemaking when it’s being done on a daily basis in your backyard. The wineries are there, and most are open year-round. It’s just a matter of us devoting the time to open the doors and walk in.

Maybe it takes a formal invitation, which is what the Grand Valley Winery Association has offered with its annual Barrel Into Spring tasting.

Seven local wineries open their wineries for two weekends (this year it’s April 23-24 and May 14-15) for tours, tastings and insights.

It’s a great opportunity to increase your wine knowledge and perhaps taste wines you’ll not taste otherwise.

But, and it’s a big one, Barrel Into Spring highlights only seven wineries and invariably sells out early. Because the event is very popular, and to keep the weekend enjoyable for everyone, attendance and tickets are strictly limited.

This year tickets ($70 per weekend) went on sale Jan. 4 and were sold in a blink.

Now, though, you have another chance. The Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology, the same terrific folks who each September bring us Colorado Mountain Winefest, is introducing a statewide spring barrel tasting called A Taste of Spring.

The two-weekend event (April 9-10 and May 7-8) features more than 30 wineries across Colorado, giving wine enthusiasts from Fort Collins to Grand Junction the opportunity to visit wineries near and far.

Tickets (a bargain at $25) are on sale now, with information and maps at http://www.coloradowineexperience. com.

Cassidee Shull, executive director for CAVE, said the Taste of Spring “offers an alternative” for wine lovers who missed the Barrel Into Spring deadline.

“We aren’t competing with the Barrel Into Spring event,” Shull said. “We’ve been working with them to make sure our weekends don’t overlap.

“This is our first time and so we’re waiting to see the response,” Shull said. “We’re already selling tickets but there still are plenty available.”

She expects the event to sell out (250 tickets per weekend) and noted a big turnout likely will entice more wineries to participate in coming years.

“We have about 140 wineries in Colorado, and I’m sure the ones who aren’t participating this year will be watching us closely,” she said.

With CAVE’s new event, participants register online and are sent a colored wristband (different colors for each weekend) and a map showing the locations of the wineries.

Additionally, the CAVE website (http://www.coloradowineexperience. com) offers interactive maps for each winery.

“We’ll send you the wristband prior to the event, so you don’t have to check in before you begin your tour,” Shull said. “You just wear it and go. The winemakers I’ve talked to are really excited about the new event.

She said to expect “lots of discounts.”

Hopefully lots of designated drivers, too.


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