English traveler Isabella Bird described the lush landscape she encountered during her horseback ascent up the St. Vrain Canyon on her way to Estes Park: “Cottonwood trees were green and bright, aspen trees shivered in gold tremulousness, and wild grape vines trailed their lemon-colored foliage along the ground.” (A Lady’s LIfe in the Rocky Mountains, published 1879)
Gravity canal irrigation is introduced into the Grand Valley. Colorado River water is diverted into gravity canals at the mouth of De Beque Canyon near Palisade.
William E. Pabor first recognizes the fruit producing potential of the Grand Valley and plants grapes, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and plums near Fruita.
George A. Crawford, who founded Grand Junction in 1881, plants sixty acres of grapes and other fruit on Rapid Creek above Palisade.
[Note: Although Crawford was know as “Governor,” he was nominated as a Democratic candidate for Governor of Kansas in 1861, but never elected. He was never governor of Colorado, either. Samuel J. Crawford was the third elected Governor of Kansas, but was unrelated to Geroge A.—Samuel was a Republican.
Source: Kansas Historical Society kansapedia]
“The Fruit Belt of Mesa County, Western Colorado,” a flier published c. 1896-1897 by the County Commissioners of Mesa County and the Board of Aldermen of the City of Grand Junction to encourage immigration to Mesa County, stated “the finest varieties of European grapes, such as the Black Hamburg, Flame Tokay, Zinfandel, Sultana, Muscat and Malaga grow to perfection in the open, and this is the only valley in the State werhe it is possible to grow them at all.” (pg. 11)
U.S. Department of Commerce, Census of the United States – Agriculture reports a Colorado grape harvest of 586,300 pounds and wine production of 1744 gallons.
U.S. Department of Commerce, Census of the United States – Agriculture reports a Colorado harvest of 1,037,614 pounds from 254,292 vines of bearing age and 101,332 vines of pre-bearing age. 1034 Colorado farms are involved in grape production.
The General Assembly of Colorado enacts a prohibition statute. Colorado goes “dry” four years before the passage of the 18th Amendment which creates national prohibition. Commercial winemaking ceases in Colorado and wine grape vineyards are uprooted.
The 18th Amendment is repealed and national prohibition ends.
Gerald Ivancie opens Ivancie Winery, the first modern Colorado winery. Dr. Ivancie hires California winemaker Warren Winiarski away from Mondavi Vineyards to serve as the winemaker. Winiarski founded Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in the Napa Valley, which won the red wine portion of the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting. Ivancie and Winiarski encourage experimental plantings of premium wine grapes in and around the Grand Valley.
Colorado State University’s Orchard Mesa Research center, located in Grand Junction, begins vineyard research.
The General Assembly enacts the Colorado Limited Winery Act HB77-0538 which creates a special permit for small “farm wineries.” Clink on the link to view a draft of that legislation before its introduction and passage.
Several partners, including Jim and Ann Seewald plus Bennett Price, who now owns DeBeque Canyon Winery, open Colorado Mountain Vineyards in Golden but eventually move their winery production to Palisade, where the grapes are being grown.
The General Assembly enacts the Colorado Wine Industry Development Act (Colorado Revised Statutes 35-29.5) which creates the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.
Grand Valley American Viticultural Area (or AVA), along the Colorado River between the mouth of DeBeque Canyon in Palisade to the foot of the Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction, is approved and recognized by what is now the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau.
West Elks American Viticultural Area (or AVA), along the North Fork of the Gunnison River between Bowie and Hotchkiss, is approved and recognized by what is now the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine names Colorado one of the Top Ten Best Wine Getaways of 2018.
Warren Winiarski provides a grant of $150,000, of which $50,000 is for matching funds, to Western Colorado Community College in Grand Junction, a division of Colorado Mesa University, the first college in the state to offer an associate degree in viticulture and enology. The grant will “provide a conduit for collaboration in Colorado’s wine industry and support for the program (which) will be committed to advancing the quality, consistency and prosperity by academic collaboration, workforce training and educational extension.” Read about how A California Winemaker Hears The Call of the Mountains.