Palisade, CO | For the first time in its long history, Colorado’s most prestigious local wine competition added an important element in judging criteria: Only wines that are Colorado Appellation or from one of Colorado’s AVAs (American Viticulture Areas) may be entered. Simply stated, this means wines must be made from 75 percent Colorado grapes.
In previous competitions, wines made in Colorado, regardless of grape origin, were allowed.
“Our winemakers have always been the stars of the industry and now we are elevating our amazing grape-growing industry, too,” said Cassidee Shull, executive director of the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE).
Using the same stringent judging standards enacted in 2012 designed to reward wines for shining in quality, not just passing minimum standards, 44 percent, or 73, of the 165 entries received medals.
The evaluation took place July 22-23 at the Wine Country Inn in Palisade. Seasoned wine professional Richard Leahy from Charlottesville, Va., served as Best of Fest Competition chair, overseeing a team of 10 judges from around the United States.
“The medal results for the Colorado Best of Fest show the quality and great diversity of fine Colorado wines today,” Leahy said. “I like that Colorado vintners are adventurous enough to make regional wines that are truly unique and that also attract a lot of customers.”
The push to include Colorado grape wines this year is part of a larger effort of CAVE to promote the growing industry alongside its winemakers. During the 22nd annual Colorado Mountain Winefest presented by First National Bank of the Rockies in September, wineries that pour and sell only Colorado wines with the 75 percent designation will be noted in the program and at various points throughout the day.
“We want the consumers to understand what Colorado grapes taste like,” Shull said. “We make great wine in Colorado. We grow great grapes in Colorado.”
View a complete list of medal winners at www.winecolorado.org.
Best of Fest winners:
Best of Category Red Wine
Turquoise Mesa Winery Crimson 2011
Best of Category White Wine
Plum Creek Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Best of Fest Fruit, Berry and Mead
St. Kathryn Cellars Blueberry Bliss
Best of Fest Dessert Wines
Graystone Winery Port V 2005