LuxeGetaways always enjoys the opportunities to collaborate with the wine industry, though this often leads us to the more prominent wine regions around the world. However, we always have so many things about Colorado to love, and this proves to be another reason that Colorado has so much to offer the world. According to the Colorado Wine Industry, Colorado wines have a lot to celebrate this Harvest season—toasting what looks to be a strong harvest that will yield tremendous wines, as well as several notable industry accolades that are putting Colorado wine on the map nationally. First and foremost, Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade, Colorado, has been voted the best wine festival in the country by USA Today’s 10Best website, which enlisted a panel of wine and travel experts to nominate 20 of the best festivals celebrating wine, wine culture and wine tourism across the country.
“Colorado is quickly becoming a world-class wine destination for wine tourism, production and education,” said Doug Caskey, Executive Director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. “People from across the country are starting to take notice and thanks to all this state has to offer, Colorado is able to attract some of the most brilliant young minds in the wine industry.”
One such individual is Ashley Hausman Vaughters, local wholesaler and Colorado Wine Board member, who was recently named a Master of Wine (MW) by the Institute of Masters of Wine, an achievement earned by only 46 US-based wine professionals since the first exam in 1953. She earned the impressive credential after almost a decade of study and will continue to help elevate the local wine industry through her work. Vaughters, a Front Range wine representative for Old World Wine Imports and owner of Mistral Wine Co., began working toward her MW in 2009 by tackling the many prerequisites necessary to apply for the program.
“I started with Society of Wine Educators’ [Certified Specialist of Wine program],” said Vaughters. “I got my level two sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and then started to work for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma. I’ve been nonstop studying since 2009, really.”
Adding to the list of local achievements in the industry is Kyle Schlachter, the Colorado Wine Board’s Outreach Coordinator, who has been named one of the top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers in the U.S. by Wine Enthusiast magazine. The annual list recognizes forward-thinking men and women who are changing how America imbibes. The list includes winemakers, distillers, importers, distributors, sommeliers and cicerones.
“I am honored to be a part of this amazing group of individuals and I am proud to represent Colorado’s burgeoning wine industry,” said Schlachter. “Behind our state’s 140 wineries are hundreds of winemakers, vineyard managers and tasting room staff, and it is a privilege to be able to share their stories and their exceptional wines, meads and ciders.”
Moreover, the harvest season is a time of celebrating Colorado Wine, a reflection of the state’s unique growing environment, which produces some of the best grapes in the country grown on over 1,000 acres of vineyards. This harvest season, thousands of wine lovers will make the annual pilgrimage to Colorado’s Western Slope to sample a growing array of Colorado wines and participate in a variety of events such as festivals, winery tours, winemaker competitions, shopping, concerts, grape stomps, and wine and food pairings.
Having seen an exemplary growing season, the 2017 harvest is expected to be a fruitful one as much of Colorado avoided the late season frosts and harsh winter damage that can curtail yields. In addition, many of Colorado’s wineries are increasing their production this year.
“Colorado’s winemakers are feeling optimistic about this year’s crop,” said Caskey. “All indications point to an excellent year both in terms of quality and quantity for the Colorado wine industry, and our winemakers are expected to release several new varieties for 2018.”
And finally, the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board can announce a 7.6% increase in the wine reported to Colorado’s Department of Revenue by Colorado wineries during Fiscal Year 2017 over 2016. “The 424,000 gallons or 178,000 cases of wine reported by our wineries may be a drop in the ocean of wine by California standards, but it represents a steady increase in production here in Colorado and is a 44% jump from five years ago,” Caskey noted. And the wineries up and down the Front Range of Colorado produced more than half of the wine reported.