With the first-ever Colorado Wine week over, you might think that Colorado wine will return to the back shelf of the wine shop between the boxed Franzia and the mop closet. It need not be this way. With your help, we can keep Colorado wine in the spotlight. On his The Wine Spectator blog, Matt Kramer asks why doesn't eating local translate to drinking local. Colorado wine sales account for less than 2.0% of all wine sales in the state, yet countless restaurants and grocery stores actively promote their local food products. As thousands of people discovered this week, Colorado produces quality juice, so why don't more people drink it? Well, here are five ways to make Colorado wine matter in the next 51 weeks that will not be proclaimed in its honor:
1. Ask for Colorado wine in restaurants. Restaurants drive the food and beverage trends. If restaurateurs and sommeliers see the demand for local wines, they will put it on theirs lists.
2. Buy Colorado Wine. Most liquor stores have a token Colorado wine or two on their shelves, but they are usually relegated to a shelf at the back of the store. Most people don't want to buy the disgraced product that retailers won't support. If a liquor store doesn't have a Colorado wine that interests you, don't cave in and by that California Cabernet. Go to a different shop that supports our local wineries. Let your wallet speak for you and all of our local vintners.
3. Serve Colorado Wine to your friends and family. Don't just drink Colorado wine at home by yourself. When you go to dinner parties, bring a bottle of the local stuff. I've been a part of a local wine group for almost a year and each time I go, I bring a bottle (or more) of Colorado wine. These guys drink some good (and expensive) juice, but each time they are pleasantly surprised with the quality that the bottle of Colorado provides. Don't be surprised if your favorite Colorado wine is preferred over more expensive and prestigious wines. Perhaps have some fun and don't let your friends know what they're drinking. Blind tasting can remove the local wine bias some oenophiles have while training their palates. They might just be surprised when the brown bag is removed.
4. Visit a winery. Colorado Wine country is a lot closer than Napa or Bordeaux. 3.5 hours west of Denver on I-70 and you can be amongst the vines and wineries of the Grand Valley. Feeling adventurous? Visit Colorado's other American Viticultural Area around the towns of Paonia and Hotchkiss along the North Fork of the Gunnison River. If you aren't feeling up to a long drive (from the Front Range) there are almost as many wineries on this side of the mountains as the western slope. While not surrounded by vines, the urban wineries of Boulder, Denver and other Front Range cities produce quality wines.
5. Go to Winefest next year. Wine festivals come and go. If you really want to support the industry and try lots of great wines, buy a ticket as soon as they are released and help drive the number of attendees into the thousands. This support will go a long way to keeping Colorado wine in the hearts and minds of wine lovers across the state and the country!