Poor Denver is losing one of its hometown papers, the Rocky Mountain News. But the nearly 150 year old newspaper did not leave without reporting quality wine news to the end. The News recently wrote about how 2008 should be a great vintage for Colorado wine, with the right conditions coming together for an excellent grape harvest.
Under the headline, "Colo. Vineyards Uncork a Good Year: Mild Weather, Slow Ripening Cited For Quality Grape Harvest," Rocky Mountain News Roger Fillion wrote:
"Colorado winemakers are toasting the quality of the state's latest grape harvest."
"They predict last fall's harvest will produce some of Colorado's better, if not best, wines in recent years. And there should be plenty of bottles to go around."
"Colorado wine-grape growers appear to have picked a record amount of grapes from their vines during the 2008 harvest."
"In particular, vineyard operators in the Grand Valley near Grand Junction reported high yields. Frost, by contrast, inflicted some damage in the smaller growing region around Paonia."
"The state's overall harvest could total nearly three times the tonnage recorded in the 2007 harvest. Cold weather slashed the grape tonnage that year."
"Mild weather and a slow ripening contributed to the quality of the latest grape harvest, winemakers said."
"We're definitely pleased with the grapes this year," said Jackie Thompson, winemaker at Boulder Creek Winery. "The flavors are pretty intense."
"She said the winery's merlot and syrah wines - now in barrels - "are going to be the best we've ever made."
"A survey of some of Colorado's 75 wineries elicited more praise. Winemakers said Riesling and cabernet franc also showed good quality."
"It was a long, not terribly hot season. We got great ripeness," said Nancy Janes, winemaker at Whitewater Hill Vineyards and Winery in Grand Junction.
"The merlot looks absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful flavor and color. Very rich fruit."
"The state's first full-time consulting winemaker, or enologist, was upbeat, too - but not as effusive as some of the winemakers."
"It was a good vintage. But it wasn't spectacular," said Stephen Menke, who also teaches enology at Colorado State University."
"Basically, the flavor profiles seem pretty good. This will be one of the better vintages."
"The last notable vintages were in 2005 and 2006."
"Colorado joins other states where early signs suggest that the 2008 vintage was a good one."
"According to Wine Enthusiast magazine, favorable weather produced "excellent" to "outstanding" grape harvests last fall in such key wine-producing states as California, Washington and Oregon."
"Bill Musgnung, a winemaker who relocated to Paonia from Oregon to produce wine, said Colorado benefited from "ideal growing conditions." He also said grape growers here "now understand that by keeping the vine fruit yields lower this makes for better wines."
"The result: "The fruit is fantastic and the wines should be some of the best ever made in Colorado," said Musgnung, who buys grapes to produce wine at his winery, Bethlehem Wine Cellars."
"Musgnung has sampled numerous wines from other wineries. "Thus far the fermenting Rieslings that I've tasted are absolutely fantastic and the reds are shining."
"He singled out wines from Cortez, Palisade, Hotchkiss and Paonia."
"In addition to good quality grapes, the 2008 harvest also represents a bumper crop for Colorado vineyards."
"It's a new state record. No doubt about it," said Horst Caspari, Colorado's state viticulturist.
"I think we might be getting close to 2,000 tons. Maybe 1,800 to 2,000 tons."
"That would be a dramatic turnaround from the 2007 harvest. Unusually cold weather in late 2006 and the spring of 2007 wreaked havoc on Colorado vineyards, especially in Delta County."
"The resulting grape yield totaled just 700 tons, down from 1,515 in 2006."
"It's our biggest and one of the better quality harvests we've had," said John Garlich, owner of BookCliff Vineyards. The winery owns and manages 33 acres of vineyard in Palisade.
"Garlich said BookCliff may produce its first "reserve" merlot since 2005. The wine is aged in new oak barrels."
"While the quality of the grapes is said to be good around the state, not all vineyard operators reported big harvests."
"Eames Peterson, owner of Alfred Eames Cellars in Paonia, said a spring frost destroyed 80 percent of the pinot noir grapes he has planted on three acres."
"We had good quality grapes but a lot of frost damage," said Peterson, who also is the winery's winemaker. "That was not true of all the vineyards up here."
"He noted the area - which sits about 1,000 feet in elevation above the Grand Valley - contains numerous microclimates because of the nearby West Elk mountains."
"No Sour Grapes Here"
"Why is Colorado's 2008 wine grape harvest considered a particularly good one? Experts weigh in:"
* "It was a long, not terribly hot season. We got great ripeness. The flavor and the color are all really good." Nancy Janes, Whitewater Hill Vineyards and Winery winemaker
* "Riesling turned out well. It has more of a European-type flavor. It tastes more off- dry because the acids are high." John Garlich, BookCliff Vineyards owner
*"The grapes have very good flavor. The sugar, acid and pH were in good balance." Doug Vogel, Reeder Mesa Vineyards winemaker"