Colorado Wines Hitting High Points (Forbes)

Tom Mullen
December 23, 2023
Horse in Vineyard West Elks AVA

During a recent trip within the U.S., the car’s GPS navigation system took me on an unexpected route between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Basalt, Colorado. It steered me through a small town named Paonia in western Colorado, where I happened to have spent time—decades ago—as an intern for an environmental newspaper. 

Wanting to see this town again I veered in. Remembering that this region apparently now has a reputation for producing wine, I parked outside a wine and liquor store and purchased some bottles.

The owner recommended a wine from Paonia that—earlier this year—had gained statewide recognition. This Alfred Eames Cellars 2019 Carmena won the top prize of a ‘double gold’ in the 2023 Governor’s Cup Wine Collection winners. I bought that bottle, as well as a bottle of Eames Pinot Noir, and looked forward to tasting both.

According to the Colorado Wine Board, winemaking in the state began on the Western Slope (the 40% of the state located west of the Rocky Mountain ‘continental divide’) over a century ago, although vineyards were replaced with orchards during Prohibition.

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