As I get older – I’ll be 52 years old in a couple of days – I really enjoy challenging my ingrained consumerist tendencies by getting out of my comfort zone, pushing myself to try new things. It’s hard to suspend preconceived notions about what one is supposed to like, but doing so sure makes life fun and, at least for me, more exciting.

I started working in the California wine industry when I was 21 years old, and from that point onward I worked solely in that industry. A couple of years ago, I made the switch to writing about wine. When your formative years have been spent working in the California wine industry, you can become quite myopic. There exists a tendency to believe that the only American wines that matter are those made in California. Sure, we may occasionally give a passing nod to Oregon and Washington – maybe the Finger Lakes region of New York – but we Californians can be pretty arrogant about our wines. Outside of the United States, we tend to look mainly to Europe for inspiration. We worship the work done by Burgundian monks hundreds of years ago and chase expensive Burgundies, photographing them for the benefit of our social media followers, oftentimes without pausing to remember that those monks were nothing more than humble risk-takers wanting simply to create something pleasurable to drink. They were pioneers.

The same can be said for the winemakers living and working in Colorado. Talk about risk-takers! They fight severe frosts more than we ever do here in California. They struggle to grow established grape varieties at high elevations. Many of them lay it all on the line to grow lesser-known cultivars, because that’s what Mother Nature is telling them grows best in their particular patch of land. Consider for a moment the humility and strength those kinds of business decisions require. These are just some of the reasons I’m so glad I pushed myself to explore the wines of Colorado.

It can be intimidating to explore a new winegrowing region, so I’ve put together a little itinerary that I hope you’ll find helpful in exploring Colorado wine country. I can’t underscore enough how worthwhile this adventure will be for you if you love good wine, good food, nature and hard-working, creative people.

Read the rest of RH Drexel‘s story over on Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate website.