Visiting Colorado's Wine Country is a memorable experience for both connoisseurs and amateurs. If you fall into the latter category, have no fear! Grand Junction winemakers are friendly, down to earth and most of all- pleased to share the fruits of their labor with any interested party. However, it never hurts to be prepared before you tour a facility or tackle a long wine list. Read our tips on wine tasting, relax and enjoy your time in Colorado's Wine Country.
7 Wine Tasting Tips
1) Start with a clear wine glass with an inwards bending rim. This helps funnel aromas to your nose, and lets you swirl without spilling.
2) Pour an inch of wine into your glass. If you’re tasting several wines, begin with the lightest and progress to the heaviest. This keeps taste buds more sensitive.
3) Observe the wine’s color by holding your glass up to light. Color gives clues about age. White wines typically gain color as they age. Red wines become lighter.
4) Grab the stem of your glass and swirl the wine. This aerates the wine, releasing aromatic vapors. Then position your nose above the rim of your glass and breathe in. Most wines have unique grape-specific aromas. The more tasting you do, the more accustomed you’ll become at detecting the aromas of different grapes.
5) Now take a small sip and let the wine move across your tongue, noticing the various sensations. Is it sweet, acidic, fruity? How strong is the alcohol? Does it feel silky or rough? Is it balanced, or does one element overpower the others?
6) Finally, swallow a small amount and note any lingering finish. Or if you’re tasting many wines, you may want to spit it out. Don’t worry, it’s not rude.
7) Bottom line, wine should always provide pleasure both in smell and taste. Also remember that wine tasting is harder to describe than it is to do. Try tasting as many different wines as possible. You’ll soon get the hang of it — and have a lot of fun in the process.
Wine Tasting Experiences & Classes
Want to peer deeper into Grand Valley's Wine Country? Options to expand your knowledge are endless in Grand Junction and nearby Palisade, whether you're a wine aficionado or amateur looking to learn viticulture.
Take a course on viviculture (the cultivation of grape vines) and enology (the study of wines) at Western Colorado Community College. Students will have the opportunity to learn not only the business side of winemaking, but also the technical skills required produce and test wine. As part of the curriculum, students will establish and maintain a vineyard and the production of wine.
Enroll in a culinary instruction class at Colorado Wine Country Inn in Palisade to access one-on-one wine pairing and cooking classes. The Napa Valley Wine Academy in Denver also has a beginner course that will cover fundamentals of wine tasting, producing and pairing.
If you're keen to explore Grand Valley wines without a tour, you have a lot of choices! Many of the wineries in Grand Junction and Palisade have wine tasting rooms. Be sure to call ahead to make sure the can accommodate your party. Once you've chosen your favorites, join their wine clubs. Wine clubs are often free and provide discounts and special offers on wine throughout the year. Though we cannot list every vineyard in Grand Valley, you can rest assured these selections come highly recommended.
The award-winning Carlson Vineyards in Palisade is open daily for tasting from 10:00 am to 5:45 pm and offers free tours. Try their acclaimed 2016 Peach Wine for an authentic western Colorado treat. Two Rivers Winery & Chateau in Grand Junction not only affords you the chance to taste their delicious varieties, they also host tours and events. They're 10:30 am to 6:00 pm Monday throught Saturday and 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Sundays. Taste their celebrated 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve to understand the complex flavors offered in Colorado.
Sommelier and Wine Pairing Instruction
Get certified as a sommelier from the experts at the International Wine Guild. Classes are available in Denver as short, intensive study programs with multiple credential levels. The Napa Valley Wine Academy also offers classes in Denver and online in beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Once you've enhanced your pairing knowledge, check out the recipes and recommended pairings on Talon Wine's blog or Carlson Vineyards' site. See a comprehensive list of Grand Valley wineries.
Grand Junction and Palisade Wine Tours
Whether you want to tour Grand Valley wines through a guide or take yourself on a leisurely bike tour of our local wineries, there is a splendid vineyard journey for everyone. For those who prefer the former, choose from a variety of luxurious or budget-friendly wine tour chaperoned by insightful wine aficionados. A Touch of Class offers individually customed or pre-planned winery tours, as well as the Ultimate Wine Tour, which comes with tours, tastings, bottles and dinner downtown for everyone in your party. JR's Carriage Service provides a unique and romantic way to see Grand Valley's many vineyards. Grand Junction Tours specializes in many types of tours around the area, but don't let that fool you, their knowledgable staff will show you the best of Grand Valley's wineries.
Wine Tasting Events
As the new Mecca for wine enthusiasts and cultivators, Grand Valley has numerous, year-round events and activities to satisfy your connoisseur's palate. Check out the wine-related happenings going on in our calendar.