DrinkLocalWine conference pops its cork in Denver
A nation (or at least enough people to populate a small country) of wine writers descends on Denver April 27-29 to get a grape’s eye view of the state’s wine industry during the fourth annual DrinkLocalWine conference.
What they’ll find, particularly those who think the wine-making earth ends somewhere east of San Luis Obispo, is the water here is safe and so is the wine.
The DrinkLocalWine movement was initiated by wine blogger Jeff Siegel (The Wine Curmudgeon) and Washington Post wine writer Dave McIntyre, both of whom want to see more attention paid to U.S. wines not coming from California, Washington or Oregon. Not that there is anything wrong (mostly) with wines from those states but, gee, enough is enough already. With wineries now found in every state, one has to think there are drinkable wines coming from states not attached to the Left Coast.
McIntyre, in the column link above, gives a boost to my hometown Grand Junction, calling it “the home of Colorado’s emerging wine industry.” The valley around here grows most of the wine grapes produced in the state, with the remainder coming from the nearby North Fork Valley and the Four Corners area in southwest Colorado.
According to some people in the Colorado wine industry, there initially was some thought given to having the conference in Grand Junction but the logistics came out in Denver’s favor. Which is too bad, since the oldest wineries and vineyards and best views are over here.
As someone who unapologetically spends an inordinate amount of time leaning against counters in tasting rooms around this state, I assume the three prior conferences (Texas 2009, Virginia 2010, Missouri 2011) surprised many people who rarely venture outside their comfort zone of wines. And that comfort zone includes sticking with local wines you know. You drink Plum Creek, Whitewater Hill and Carlson’s but have you tried Balistreri, Guy Drew or Boulder Creek? The latter three will take you from one of the oldest wineries on the Front Range to the high mesas along McElmo Canyon in the Four Corners back to one of the modern wineries (and frequent medal winner) east of the Continental Divide.
The DrinkLocalWine 2012 conference promises to be a social media bacchanalia, with such highlights as the Nomacorc-Colorado Twitter Taste-off on April 28. The taste-off poses two dozen of the state’s “best” wineries (I have no idea who has the task of deciding which of the state’s 100 wineries rank as the 24 best) go head-to-head in a live tweet fest. According to the DLW press release, the previous conferences have generated more than 10 million tweets, which is a boatload of opinions at 140 characters per. Conference organizers are shooting for 8 million tweets at the Denver conference. Keep those fingers flyin’.
You can follow the Nomacorrc-Colorado Twitter Taste-off on Twitter from 2-5 p.m., April 28. Use the hashtags #drinklocal, #colwine and #Nomacorc.
Other public events include seminars on the difficulties (or opportunities) of high-altitude wine-making, the challenges of pairing local wines with local foods and an overview of the general perception of Colorado andother regional wines.
Another fave event is the traditional request that invited attendees bring three favorite regional wines to share. With writers/bloggers expected from across the nation, you may bottles of familiar grapes such as pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay standing neck to neck with hybrid varietals you never heard of, such as Kay Gray, Frontenac and Chardonel. Some you may like, some may not suit your palate, but that’s the beauty of the DrinkLocalWine movement: You get the chance to try something new, or a new take on an old favorite.
There’s also the Colorado Blind Challenge, pairing California and Colorado wine in a blind tasting. The idea sounds interesting but why? Colorado wine isn’t California wine (isn’t that the point of this entire DWL movement?). I leave the answers to you.
The DLW 2012 is presented by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board and sponsored by the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology and by Nomacorc, maker of alternative wine closures. Tickets are $65 with all events are at Metro State College. Information here.