It’s not in California, or Italy, or Chile. No, the world’s highest winery is near Breckenridge, Colorado. I know – high, Colorado….you might be thinking there’s a marijuana innuendo. Well, the highest vineyards in the world are in Argentina (Bodega Colomé at 10,200′). But, the highest winery in the world is in the tiny mountain town of Alma, sitting at an elevation of 10,361′ high. This truly is cheers with altitude.
My friend Melissa and I stumbled upon the Continental Divide Winery tasting room in downtown Breckenridge. It’s only been open a few months and a welcomed addition to the revitalized Main Street Station.
We started chatting with John Bellncula, General Manager of the tasting room. You can taste Colorado wines or California wines. In a rather unusual winery concept, Continental Divide Winery has two winemakers – one for Colorado wines and one for California wines. The naturally thin air of the high alpine winery location, allows for less oxidation, therefore allowing more of the natural flavors of the original grapes to shine through.
Melissa went for the California wines and I went for the Colorado wines. The grapes for the Colorado wines are brought in from Palisade, on the western slope of the state. California grapes are from Napa, Sonoma, and Sierra Foothills.
My favorite was the 2015 Winter Is Coming Red Wine Blend followed by the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Riverside Vineyard. Winter Is Coming is a bold and spicy blend of Petit Verdot (which grows really well in CO) and Syrah.
It is a super boutique winery only producing 1500 cases a year. The fun in the tasting room goes beyond just simple wine tasting. Pair the wines with cheeses from The Cheese Shop of Breckenridge just across the way from the tasting room. You can take the tasting room’s Continental Divide Challenge and guess which wines come from Colorado grapes versus ones crafted from California fruit. Always wanted to try being a winemaker? You can do their blending experience, which is a 2-hour program with one of the wine experts to custom blend your own unique wine. It’s high school chemistry with wine!