Tickets still available to Wine Week’s main event on Front Range

Nancy Janes of Whitewater HIll Vineyards shows off some of her award-winning wines from the 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. She said displaying such awards gives more confidence to customers when selecting a wine.

This week has been named Colorado Wine week in honor of this weekend’s first-ever Colorado Winefest in Denver.

That’s about it for anything local, except to remind you that Valley and North Fork Valley wineries are open and are happy to see you.

They might even have a deal or two in honor of Colorado Wine Week.

As of earlier this week, most of the Wine Week events scheduled for the Denver area still had tickets available, including Saturday’s main event, the Colorado Winefest 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday at Northfield Stapleton.

The site is an open-air shopping district, which promises to lend the Denver event a different but no less vibrant feel than the Palisade event.

Among the week’s events is a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Governor’s Residence where awards will be announced for the Colorado-only wine competition.

Among the winners already announced are Whitewater Hill’s 2009 Riesling, voted Best of Show in the white category, and Cottonwood Cellars’ Classic Blend 2005 winning Best of Show in the red category.

Winefest general admission tickets are $35 per person.

Information is at

And while we’re on award-winning wines, a handful of Colorado wineries brought home medals from the 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester. N.Y.

This two-day competition attracts upward of 3,000 wines from 15 countries including all 50 states and tests the taste buds of more than 60 national and international judges.

Balistreri Vineyards (Denver) won a double gold for their 2009 Petite Syrah and a gold for their 2009 Zinfandel.

Desert Sun Vineyards, founded in 2009 by owners Doug and Kathryn Hovde, took a gold medal for its estate-grown 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Other Colorado wineries with gold medals included Garfield Estates (2009 Vin de Glace); and Garrett Estates Cellars (Delta, 2009 Riesling).

Silver medal winners included: Allis Ranch Winery (Sedalia, 2008 Reserve Colorado Syrah); Desert Sun (2010 Riesling); Dithyramb Winery (honey, apple cider and cinnamon mead); Garrett Estates (2009 Chardonnay); Greystone Winery (2003 Port III and 2004 Port IV).

More silver medal winners included: Reeder Mesa Vineyards (2009 Cabernet Franc, 2009 Petite Syrah and 20120 Riesling); Snowy Peaks Winery (Estes Park, 2008 Syrah); Spero Winery (2006 Cabernet Franc); and Talon Winery (as Meadery of the Rockies — Guinevere mead, and as St. Kathryn Cellars — non-vintage Riesling, non-vintage pomegranate).

Rounding out the silver medalists were Turquoise Mesa Winery (Broomfield, 2006 Cabernet Franc, 2007 Colorado Crimson red blend) and Whitewater Hill (2008 Shiraz and 2010 Sweetheart Red).

And there were a passel of bronze medals, which we salute but won’t mention.

I list these medal winners because it has some importance, both to the winemakers and the customer.

Winemakers not only use these competitions as marketing (just look around any tasting room and you’ll see bottles festooned with medals) but also to see how well they (the winemakers) are doing in their craft.

Don’t give me the “I don’t care what others are doing, I make wine my way.”

That’s fine, as long as you get out and see what others are doing.

Winemakers can pick up a bad habit called “cellar palate,” meaning theirs are the only wines they drink.

This can give you a false impression of just how good your wines are.

I’ve dined with winemakers from Paonia to Montepulciano and they all agree: They want to drink someone else’s wines because it gives them the chance to see what the competition is doing.

And Nancy Janes of Whitewater Hill recently told me it’s important for the customers, who love seeing how well a winery does in competition.

It often plays a role in someone purchasing a wine, giving the customer confidence that someone else, someone with a recognized palate, has liked this wine.

Plus, these baubles tell the consumer that this winemaker feels good enough about her product to go head-to-head with other wineries.

Finally, it shows the other competitors that Colorado is making some serious wines.

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