Colorado's wine industry heavy hitters recently teamed up to write an in-depth technical article about the terroir and viticulture in the Grand Valley. Several local wineries were featured. According to one participating vintner, the answer, my friend, to great wine is blowin' in the wind...
Doug Caskey, head of the Colorado Wine Industry & Development Board, joined Norm Christianson (Canyon Wind Cellars/vineyard owner), and Dr. Horst Caspari, state viticulturist with Colorado State University at the Orchard Mesa Research Station in Grand Junction, all contributed to the November/December 2008 issue of Practical Winery & Vineyard. Dr. Steve Menke, state enologist with Colorado State University, added and corrected the article.
Featured first in the story was Canyon Wind's vineyard, which perches on the north bank of the Colorado River, while other vineyards and fruit orchards in the area reside on the south side of the river.
Under the headline, "Cultivating Wine Grapes at High Elevation," the Wine Dream Team wrote:
"High elevation, harsh winters, unique soils and microclimates in the mountain valleys of Colorado produce low yields (under three tons per acre), but many vinifera grape varieties can be grown. Winemakers enjoy the discovery and nurturing of distinctive characteristics in wines produced in Colorado vineyards."
"A combination of geological factors makes the location of Canyon Wind Cellars vineyards unlike any other site in the Grand Valley AVA or the entire state of Colorado. Canyon Wind Cellars (Palisade, CO), is owned by Norm and Ellen Christianson. A trained geologist, Norm recognized the potential for wine grape growing when he found the high elevation (4,710 foot) site, after searching five continents."
"First, the canyon winds blow along the Colorado River — formerly known as the Grand River, whence the AVA and adjoining city take their names — through the narrow DeBeque Canyon. Canyon Wind Cellars is located at the eastern edge of the Grand Valley where DeBeque Canyon widens into the Grand Valley. The AVA stretches from that canyon mouth 20 miles to the west, to the foot of the Colorado National Monument. Canyon winds generally blow down-valley in the mornings and up- valley in the afternoons."
This story will be continued tomorrow. If you'd like to download the article, go the Wine Board's press page, or simply click here.