Colorado’s Front Range soars upward in a commanding procession of snow-crowned peaks, saw-toothed canyons, glass-top lakes and a continuous tryst of tumbling rivers.
Hardy alpine plants and wildlife thrive in the 415-square-mile Rocky Mountain National Park in the region’s western stretches. From cowboy to campus culture, the region carries a harmonious to-each-their-own vibe. Top universities in Boulder, Fort Collins and Greeley draw progressive thinkers, while the Old West echoes in slower paced canyon hamlets.
Meanwhile, natural beauty inspires a widespread dedication to the environment. Locals enjoy tucked-away exploration such as farm stands in Lyons, films at Chautauqua in Boulder, and mining heritage in Nederland.
However, the region’s laid-back attitude should not be confused with idleness. Active residents are always spurring greener innovation, preserving open space and hosting sustainable farming fairs. The Front Range even is home to four distinct wine regions.
If your travels include Rocky Mountain National Park or the Estes Park area, be sure to visit the Northern Wine Region.
There, Trail Ridge Winery in Loveland offers 11 different bottlings from which to choose, and an inviting porch for lingering. Just outside of Lyons in a picturesque canyon, the Ciatano Winery specializes in Italian-style bottlings. Continue up the canyon to Snowy Peaks Winery, where the local flavor and small mountain town hospitality is in abundance.
Staying closer to Denver? Then check out the Boulder Wine Region, a mere half-hour from downtown.
Turquoise Mesa, located in Broomfield near Flat Iron Crossing, specializes in Shiraz and Chardonnay — two varieties you’ll also find (among many others) at the one-woman Augustina Winery. Among the fun and flavorful offerings: Winechick Red. Just one mile from the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory and Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art, you’ll find Boulder Creek Winery, where you can take a self-guided tour.
For the sweet-toothed among us, BookCliff Vineyards and the Redstone Meadery are must-stops. BookCliff’s tasting room is located inside the Belvedere Chocolate Shop in downtown Boulder, where world-class wines and Belgian chocolates conspire to make saying “no” a near impossibility. Redstone specializes in sulfite-free honey wines, and also is located in Boulder.
There are six wineries and/or tasting rooms in the Denver Wine Region, including Tewksbury & Co., which offers samples from the award-winning Plum Creek Winery and a line of fine cigars. Balistreri Vineyards, in north Denver, offers a broad spectrum of bottlings, including a very good Port-style wine. Spero Winery — like Ciatano in the Northern Region — specializes in Italian varieties made with “Old World” flair.
For an entirely different experience, visit Bonacquisti Wine Company, which is located just minutes from downtown in a funky, urban industrial condo. Then head west toward the foothills, and stop in at the Avanti Winery in Littleton, which makes its own wine and sells bottlings from 29 other Colorado estates. Continue up the hill to the beautiful mountain town of Evergreen, where Creekside Cellars offers fine wines and delicious food from its Italian deli.
Finally, the Southern Wine Region, in the Colorado Springs area, is home to two wineries that welcome visitors. Concetta Cellars at Stoa in Castle Rock (just two miles from Factory Outlets shopping) is a quality-focused winery specializing in premium cuvees. Farther south (12 miles from the Royal Gorge), the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City is situated on the pastoral grounds of a monastery. It offers award-winning wines and has a very well-stocked gift shop.
Between winery visits, the Front Range region offers an abundance of attractions and activities, so there’s never an excuse for being bored.
In Boulder, you can sip on fair-trade espresso, browse the eclectic shops and people-watch at the Pearl Street Mall. The historic open-air gathering spot is home to contortionists, jugglers and musicians performing for tips.
In Fort Collins, you can take an architecture-focused walking tour that includes the stained-glass dome of the Northern Hotel and the sandstone Avery House.
Want someone else to do the driving? Then hitch a ride over the Devil’s Gate High Bridge aboard a narrow gauge train of the historic Georgetown Loop Railroad. Then stretch out your legs 500 feet underground on the wood planks of the Lebanon Silver Mine.
There’s plenty of wilderness for hiking, or do your sightseeing by car on the 55-mile Peak-to-Peak Scenic and Historic Byway. You’ll wind your way through national forest land and ghost towns, and alongside pristine high-country lakes.
Exploring is easiest during the non-snow months, of course, and if you’re interested in a wine-intensive vacation, come during the summer and attend the annual Boulder Food & Wine Festival.
Exploring the Front Range gives you a front-row seat for much of the majesty that Colorado has to offer.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Trail Ridge Winery — 970-635-0949
Ciatano Winery — 303-823-5011
Snowy Peaks Winery — 970-586-2099
Turquoise Mesa — 303-653-3822
Augustina Winery — 303-545-2047
Boulder Creek Winery — 303-516-9031
BookCliff Vineyards — 303-449-9463
Redstone Meadery — 720-406-1215
Tewksbury & Co. — 303-825-1880
Balistreri Vineyards — 303-287-5156
Spero Winery — 720-519-1506
Bonacquisti Wine Company — 303-477-9463
Avanti Winery — 303-904-7650
Creekside Cellars — 303-674-5460
Concetta Cellars at Stoa — 303-663-0110
Winery at Holy Cross Abbey — 719-276-5191
Colorado Tourism — colorado.com
Boulder Food & Wine Festival — boulderwinefest.com