State’s wines gain in market share |

State’s wines gain in market share

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Antler's Discount Liquors employee Matt Huette holds a bottle of Two Rivers in front of a Colorado wine display in the Frisco liquor store. Colorado produced wine sales have gone up this year.

DENVER – The Colorado wine industry increased its interest among the state’s wine consumers in 2004 after suffering a decline in 2003.Market share for Colorado-produced wines increased to 1.35 percent in the state, a 16 percent increase over 2003’s market share of 1.16 percent. The numbers are based on Colorado Department of Agriculture tax revenue figures of the vinous tax imposed on all wines in the state and the additional wine tax paid by wineries. While Colorado-produced wines garner a small percentage of the market, Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, said producers are having a hard time keeping up with demand.

“We only have 750 acres of grapes planted in the state,” Caskey said. “We’re barely a drop in the bucket (in terms of production).”Caskey credited several factors for increased sales. The restaurant industry and consumers are showing more interest in the product. As well, the wines excelled at national wine competitions last year.”Overall, the Colorado wine industry’s growth in market share has increased by 644 percent over the past 12 years,” Caskey said. Colorado wine sales increased 16 percent over last year, while the state’s total wine sales increased only 0.27 percent.Culled from tax revenue figures from 590,977 liters of Colorado-produced wines taken out of bond during 2004, the market share represents 65,664 cases of wine or an estimated $7.87 million in retail sales (based on an average retail price of $10 per 750 ml bottle).

Colorado’s extreme climate makes it difficult to grow grapes in the state. They are grown in sheltered microclimates – typically isolated river valleys – where peaches and apples are also grown in areas ranging from 4,000 to 7,000 feet in elevation. The state’s are among the highest vineyards in the world. The Grand Valley of the Colorado River and the West Elks along the North Fork Valley of the Gunnison River are home to nearly all of Colorado’s vineyards. Wine grapes have been grown in these areas in small family vineyards since the end of the 19th Century. A 1983 census recorded 20 acres of grape vines under cultivation in the state. Today, Colorado has 80 vineyards totaling about 750 acres of vines. Joliene Rousu, owner of Frisco Liquors, said she has seen a slight increase in sales of Colorado wines at her store on Main Street. The interest is mainly shown by tourists looking for a local wine to take home as a gift.

“The sales are seasonal,” Rousu said. “Locals don’t buy it but we carry some during the season when we have people passing through.”In the past year, 10 new wineries opened in the state and the industry launched the First Annual Colorado Wine Restaurant Recognition Program, designed to encourage restaurants to feature Colorado wines on their lists. The program has 90 restaurant participants. Last weekend, an annual wine festival in Palisade drew 7,000 people on Saturday, about 1,000 more than last year, Caskey said.Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at

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