Booze gives voice to Colorado's growing wine industry

Local food has crept onto just about every menu on the Front Range. And if Jacob Harkins has his way, local wine will follow.

Last fall, Harkins started an online magazine called that focuses on the Colorado wine industry, aiming to expose consumers and chefs to Colorado wines that they might not otherwise hear about.

"There's a lot of good stuff out there, especially on the Western Slope, and people haven't really noticed it because the winemakers aren't out promoting it," says Harkins, who earned his first level sommelier certification through the International Sommelier Guild last year. "My goal is to help the interested consumer distinguish the good from the bad."

To do that, Harkins focuses on some of the grapes that grow well on the Front Range. For white, he notes that Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Viognier are good picks. Cabernet Franc is his favorite red, as much because it has a growing season that suitable for the Colorado climate as because it's a grape Colorado winemakers can use to distinguish themselves: few consumers consume a lot of Cabernet Franc from California or France, so the grape doesn't find itself up against decades (or centuries) of market-defined taste. The wine, he notes, gets better every year.

"This is a young industry," he says. "In the last five or six years, new winemakers have come in, and old winemakers have brought in experts to help them make a better wine. I want to give everyday drinkers a database of information so they can drink those wines."

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk