If you'd like an even more in-depth experience of Colorado wine country, you should consider reserving a spot on the three-day Colorado Wine Train tour. This unique experience, held twice a year in the spring and fall, is sponsored by the travel company AAA, and allows wine enthusiasts to enjoy both Colorado scenery and local wine on a train ride from Denver to Grand Junction, which is next to Colorado's Grand Valley wine country.
The tour takes place on an Amtrak California Zephyr as part of its trip between Chicago and San Francisco. The train picks up passengers and begins the tour conveniently at Denver Union Station. As the train chugs along, tour participants are treated to talks by Colorado wine experts such as Doug Caskey, the executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. He explains how the state is able to produce such great wine, along with the history of the wine industry there. Participants also get live music and basic instruction on the best way to sample wine.
We spoke with Caskey, who has high praise for the wine tour. He explained that the tour takes passengers through the scenic Coal Creek Canyon as well as the 6-mile-long (9.7 kilometer-long) Moffat Tunnel. After it makes a stop in Winter Park, it travels through Gore Canyon, where, Caskey says, no other roads or other forms of transportation exist. Later, the train goes through Glenwood Canyon before arriving at Grand Junction.
Meanwhile, along the trip, local vintners join and offer passengers presentations and tastings of their wine. Tour passengers then get off at the Grand Junction stop and spend two nights in a local hotel. On the second day of the tour, participants board tour vans to visit multiple Grand Valley wineries. The third day includes a special breakfast, and time for browsing the Museum of Western Colorado or visiting the Colorado National Monument. There's even opportunity for one more winery visit before the participants take a motor coach back to Denver. Caskey also points out that the tour takes care of transporting any wine purchases made on the trip to the tour vans and onto the motor coach back to Denver.
But remember to plan early. Spots on the train tour tend to fill up quickly.
- Bootstraps Western Winefest. "Welcome to the Bootstraps Western Winefest, Evergreen, Colorado." Bootstraps Western Winefest. (July 22, 2011)
- Caskey, Doug. Executive Director, Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. Personal correspondence. July 19, 2011.
- Castle Rock Winefest. "Event Overview." Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce. (July 22, 2011)
- Colorado Winefest. "Event Information." Colorado Winefest. Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology. (July 22, 2011)
- CWIDB. "About Us." Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. Media Kit 2011. (July 22, 2011)
- Downtown Boulder. "Taste of Pearl." Downtown Boulder. (July 22, 2011)
- Firstenfield, Jane. "Colorado Wine Train Sold Out." Wine & Vines. March 3, 2009. (July 22, 2011)
- MVCVIB. "Mesa Verde Country Food, Wine, & Art Festival." Mesa Verde Country Visitor Information Bureau. (July 22, 2011)
- Ostdick. John H. "Colorado Wine Train." Natural Traveler. (July 22, 2011)
- Ostdick, John H. "A Trip on the Colorado Wine Train." EnCompass. AAA Colorado. (July 22, 2011)
- Smith, Alta, Philip Bradley Smith. "Guide to Colorado Wineries." Fulcrum Publishing, 2002. (July 22, 2011)
- TTB. "American Viticultural Area." Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. (July 22, 2011.)