Tasting Table article published May 8, 2018
Convinced he could open Ethan Fixell’s eyes to a new frontier of American wine, Josh Niernberg, chef and owner of Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction, Colorado, sent him a box of vinos from his home state. And after crushing each unique bottle, Fixell said to himself again and again, “Hot damn—this is from . . . Colorado?”
Fixell describes the characteristics of the Grand Valley AVA and then turns his attention to the West Elks AVA:
“Meanwhile, the highest-altitude vineyards in Colorado (and in the entire northern hemisphere) are located an hour southeast of Grand Valley, in the West Elks AVA. With its rivers and rolling hills, some people, like Provençal winemaker Yvon Gros of Leroux Creek Vineyards, say the terrain resembles Provence, France. Recognized 10 years after Grand Valley, the comparatively tiny, cooler, more mountainous West Elks includes more than 100 acres of vineyards in the Rocky Mountains that range from 5,400 to 6,400 feet above sea level.
“Due to their differences, ‘the whites and thinner-skinned reds tend to perform very well in West Elks, while the thicker-skinned and more resilient grapes tend to do better in the high desert that defines the Grand Valley,’ Niernberg says. A bit wetter than the Grand Valley, West Elks is ‘able to produce, in my opinion, far more delicate wines like Gewürztraminer or Pinot Noir,’ he says.”