Grand Valley wines judged among best of Winefest competition

Three Grand Valley wineries were among the top winners in the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest wine competition.

St. Kathryn Cellars in Palisade won a Best of Fest award in the category for fruit and berry wines and mead for its Blueberry Bliss. Graystone Winery in Clifton won a Best of Fest award in the category for dessert wines for its 2005 Port V. Plum Creek Cellars in Palisade won a best of category award for white wines for its 2012 sauvignon blanc.

Turquoise Mesa Winery, a boutique winery in Broomfield that uses grapes grown in Western Colorado, was the other top winner with a best of category award for red wines for its Crimson 2011.

A total of 73 out of the 165 entries in the competition received medals.

“The medal results for the Colorado Best of Fest show the quality and great diversity of fine Colorado wines today,” said Richard Leahy, a wine professional from Charlottesville, Va., who served as the competition chairman and oversaw a team of 10 judges from around the United States.

“I like that Colorado vintners are adventurous enough to make regional wines that are truly unique and that also attract a lot of customers,” Leahy added.

For the first time, the competition was limited to wines that are Colorado appellation or from one of the American viticulture areas in the state. The restriction meant the wines had to be made from at least 75 percent of grapes grown in Colorado. In previous competitions, wines made in Colorado were allowed regardless of where the grapes were grown.

The change is part of an effort to promote not only Colorado wineries, but also Colorado winegrape growers.

“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. The trade group of wineries and winegrape growers hosts the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest as a fund-raiser.

Nearly 50 Colorado wineries are expected to pour samples of their wines as part of the Winefest scheduled for Sept. 21 at Riverbend Park in Palisade. Wineries that pour and sell only Colorado wines made of at least 75 percent Colorado grapes 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.”