Wine Openers: PUT A CORK IN IT!

Visitors of Terror Creek Winery in Paonia can take in sweeping views of vineyards and the West Elk mountains while enjoying a glass of wine.



Stone Cottage Cellars was “the most visually lovely winery we visited,” according to R.H. Drexel of the Wine Advocate.



Wine corks



Carlson Vineyards received high praise from R.H. Drexel, who was writing for the Wine Advocate, and said the winery was “a great stop.”



One lament wine writers often hear is we tend to write excessively about our local wineries.

Not just me, of course, but every writer pinballing around what generically are known as “smaller markets.”

Usually this refers to any domestic winemaking region outside the Left Coast, New York and sometimes Texas, since wines from the Lone Star state aren’t especially well known once past the Red River.

Of course, the fact that Texans are mighty proud of their wine industry (and evidently mighty thirsty) and tend to consume nearly all their wines before they reach outside markets might have something to do with the relative lack of international renown.

Any writer who lives and breathes around a local wine industry, whether it’s Colorado, California or Europe, finds it easier to focus on that industry, sometimes because it’s within driving distance and sometimes simply because it helps your audience keep up with the happenings around the area.

And, heck, you know these people, and they often tell you things about winemakers and winemaking you’d never find out otherwise.

That doesn’t mean readers, particularly those savvy about wine and eager to explore other regions and taste unknown wines from unknown winemakers, aren’t open to tales of regions they haven’t yet visited.

All writers enjoy visiting other areas and sharing their experiences, and those other areas enjoy having writers from around the globe praising the local fermented grape juice.

California, Italy, Spain, France — at least parts, if not all, of those regions — never lack for writers seeking trips to taste wine and eat the local cuisine, especially on someone else’s dime.

But it’s not quite so easy to lure well-known wine writers to Colorado wine country, particularly when their first question is, “Does Colorado make wine?”

In recent years, however, the state (by way of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board) more and more has rolled out the red (and white and even rosé) carpet for writers whose names you recognize from newspapers, blogs and national wine mags.

Among them, Mike Dunn (Sacramento Bee), Jeff Seigel (Wine Curmudgeon) and Alder Yarrow (Vinography) recently have written complimentary things about Colorado wines. That exposure helped the state immensely and now, R.H. Drexel, writing for the Wine Advocate, is enthusing happily about the state of Colorado wines after a visit last fall.

You can read his article on the Wine Advocate website (http://www.winejournal.robertparker.com). It’s behind a paywall, although I had no problem pulling it up.

A few comments praised from Drexel’s article:

■ Colorado winemakers are “risk-takers” showing “humility and strength” to “grow established grape varieties at high elevations.”

■ “It’s exciting to try a familiar variety as it expresses itself in an unfamiliar terroir.”

■ “Wine tasting in Grand Junction is truly a pleasure. … winemakers in Colorado seemed a bit more down-to-earth, unassuming and still highly inquisitive.”

Among the wineries visited by Drexel and the rest of the tour were Creekside Cellars (“solidly made wines that merit attention”), Plum Creek Cellars (“beautifully balanced, energetic wines”); Carlson Vineyards (“a great stop”); Reeder Mesa Cellars (“beautiful, age-worthy Rieslings”); Jack Rabbit Hill (“a revelation … one of the finest American Rieslings I have ever tasted”); Alfred Eames Cellars (“the best Colorado Pinot Noir I had”) and Stone Cottage Cellars (“the most visually lovely winery we visited”).

The key, of course, is not that Drexel said things other writers may have missed. But his audience, an experienced, international lot, many of whom probably asked the above question when they saw his article, now can place Colorado on the wine-making map.

And that, in turn, can only be good for those enjoying Colorado wines.

Email Dave Buchanan at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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