About The AVA
The West Elks American Viticultural Area (AVA) spreads through Delta county on the Western Slope of Colorado. It boasts of some of the highest vineyards in North America and the some of the best Colorado wine. This high mesa area in the Colorado Rockies seems an unlikely place to grow grapes and make wine. But here you will find some of the best wine produced in the state.
West Elks AVA is noted for its production of white wines. Riesling and Gewurztraminer grow extremely well here as does Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Here they produce some terrific wines. The high elevation and low humidity coupled with cool nights help retain a high degree of acidity as the grapes ripen. This is a positive for all varieties grown in the region, but it makes for especially perfect Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
Reds aren't neglected either. Pinot Noir has found a home on the mesa slopes too. Those cool nights and warm days has been especially kind to this variety. Outstanding Merlots can be found here too. The growing season is a bit too short for Cabernet Sauvignon but Cab Franc is being experimented with by many growers. Hybrid grape varieties are particularly suited for this extreme grape growing area.
If you're talking real vineyards, real classic European vinifera varietals Terror Creek's vineyard is unique in its elevation of 6,417 feet. One has to take an 800-foot plunge down to the snowmelt-fed North Fork of the Gunnison to get to the bottom of this valley. This high altitude challenges grape growers with a frost-free growing season of as little as 150 days but that's what the West Elks AVA is all about. This area takes grape growing to the extreme.
Vacationers traveling to the West Elks American Viticultural Area will not only enjoy tasting some of the best wines that Colorado has to offer, but will also enjoy the mountain and mesa scenery viewed from the wineries they encounter.