(This is Part II of a three part series). Call it the state's Wine Dream Team. Recently 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, to contribute to the November/December 2008 issue of Practical Winery & Vineyard. Dr. Steve Menke, state enologist with Colorado State University, added and corrected the article.
Under the headline, "Cultivating Wine Grapes at High Elevation," the Wine Dream Team wrote:
"Slightly further east and up on a plateau, forming the east boundary of the Grand Valley, sits Rapid Creek, the location of the first non-native grapevines in Grand Valley, planted in 1890 by a former governor of Colorado shortly after the valley was first irrigated in 1882. Local lore says that some of those original vines are still growing on Rapid Creek. Christianson cultivated those vines many years ago and found them to be Zinfandel, a varietal not well-suited to the relatively short growing season (183 frost-free days) even though Zinfandel likes the significant degree days. The oldest Canyon Wind vines are 18 years old. "
"Dr. Horst Caspari (Colorado State University state viticulturist) notes that the 30-year average for degree days in Palisade, beginning on April 15, is 3,717."
“We have not been nearly that low in the last 10 years,” Caspari adds. Records indicate the lowest temperature recorded in Palisade within that 30 years is –20ºF, while Christianson doesn’t think he has gone below –5ºF. Caspari sees warmer temperatures as an increasing trend."
This article will be continued tomorrow. If you'd like to download the article, go the Wine Board's press page, or simply click here.