Wine Tasting at Colorado Wineries: Front Range Favorites

Although Colorado’s main grape-growing regions are in the western part of the state, about one-third of our wineries are situated along the Front Range, the more highly populated corridor that parallels the Rockies’ eastern edge. Below are some of the most popular Front Range wineries featured in my travel guide, Moon Colorado—plus a few other personal favorites for a deeper dive into the state’s up-and-coming wine scene!

stacks of wine bottles in a tasting room
The tasting room at Bookcliff Vineyards in north Boulder. Photo courtesy of Bookcliff Vineyards.

Balistreri Vineyards, Denver

John Balistreri grew up making wine in a small village in Sicily, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that he decided to turn what had always been a hobby into a business. With the help of his wife, daughter, and most of his nine grandkids, he now runs a very successful winery, Balistreri Vineyards, where he uses mostly Colorado-grown grapes to create all-natural wines fermented on the skins in their own yeast. Balistreri is best known for his fruit-forward reds, including his Merlot, which has garnered numerous awards, as well as the traditional, tropical-flavored Orange Muscat that his Sicilian uncle taught him how to make.

Bookcliff Vineyards, Boulder

Although Ulla Merz, a computer scientist, and John Garlich, a civil engineer, had grown grapes and made wine in their home for years, it wasn’t until a backpacking trip in western Colorado that they seriously considered opening their own winery. The duo grows nearly all of the winery’s grapes, which John carefully ferments in stainless tanks to create some of the state’s most-awarded wines. Highlights at Bookcliff Vineyards include a fruity Viognier, peppery Syrah, and their best-selling Friday’s Folly Red, a smooth, easy-drinking red blend named for a rock climb on Boulder’s Third Flatiron.

award metals hang on bottles of wine at Silver Vines Winery
Silver Vines Winery in Arvada’s Old Town. Photo © Terri Cook and Lon Abbott.

Silver Vines Winery, Arvada

Because Colorado is one of the few states that allow winemakers to import grapes across state lines, Danny and Jeff Chayer, two brothers from Minnesota, decided it would be an ideal place to open their winery. Located in a lovingly restored warehouse in Arvada’s quaint Olde Town, Silver Vines offers a balanced selection of delicious white, red, and dessert wines, ranging from their top selling Grandview Reserve—a smoky, cherry-flavored red—to their decadent Chocolate Delight, a tempting combination of late-harvest Zinfandel and rich chocolate.

Snowy Peaks Winery, Estes Park

Located near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, Snowy Peaks Winery is owned and operated by Candice and Erik Mohr, two scientists from Arizona who switched to wine-making almost overnight. All of their wine is made using handpicked, Colorado-grown grapes. The cozy tasting room is a great place to relax and taste some of their delicious, Rhône-style reds, including a smooth Cabernet Sauvignon and the ruby Élevé, both of which won medals in Colorado’s prestigious Governor’s Cup competition.

table with wine glass in front of a shelf of wine at Snowy Peaks
The cozy interior of the Snowy Peaks Winery in Estes Park. Photo © Terri Cook and Lon Abbott.

Turquoise Mesa, Broomfield

The Turquoise Mesa winery focuses on bringing great wine and friends together. Although Winemaker Tom Bueb grew up in a beer-brewing family, he was always more interested in wine than suds. When all of his friends began clamoring for his “basement blends,” he too leapt into the commercial realm. Bueb has since won many awards, including for his Sunset White, a sweet-and-spicy blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes with a delicate, floral nose. If you prefer full-bodied reds, be sure to try Turquoise Mesa’s spicy Syrah, whose 2013 vintage won the Governor’s Cup Best of Show.

Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, Cañon City

Established by an order of Benedictine monks on the grounds of an historic abbey, the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey offers some “divine” wine in an old arts and crafts building built in 1911 as part of the abbey’s school. Winemakers imported from Sonoma use primarily Colorado grapes to craft a variety of fruity wines, including the top-selling American Riesling, which has lovely notes of lilac and citrus, and the refreshing Apple Blossom Wine. The winery also has a large gift shop filled with wine- and cooking-related merchandise.

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