By Christina Holbrook, Summit Daily, July 9, 2016

What is the effect of altitude on wine? According to the Journal of Vineyard and Winery Management, “grapes grown at high altitude may develop a more favorable phenolic profile” (Nov./Dec. 2007). In laymen’s terms, the cooler temperatures and the greater intensity of the sun positively impact how the wine tastes, its color, and how it feels in your mouth — big, sweet, tannic or chewy, for example.

Less than three hours from Summit County lies the West Elks Region, Colorado’s only other designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) outside of The Grand Valley. This high-altitude terroir falls within the North Fork Valley of the Gunnison River, and includes Paonia and Hotchkiss. Like the Grand Valley AVA, West Elks supports the growth of the vitis vinifera grapes, those with a long-standing history throughout Europe and beyond as fine wine grapes. At an altitude that reaches 6,417 feet, the area is particularly known for its Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir, while other grapes grown here include Nebbiolo, Barbera, Merlot and several hybrid strains…

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