05/06/2011 05:28 pm ET Updated Jul 06, 2011

Denver Eschewing Beer? Our Best Wineries

Colorado is known as the "Napa Valley of Beer," but it has a budding wine industry that gets national attention as well. Most of the vineyards are grown on the Western Slope with the wineries operating in Denver metro. Take a wine tour at any of these award-winning wineries.

Avanti Winery: South of town in Littleton is Avanti -- a winery that sells its own wine, of course, but also bottles from more than 30 Colorado wineries in operation. Their signature and award-winning bottle is the Mystique, a red table wine with cherry and caramel tones. They have a full slate of styles from Cab to Chardonnay to Merlot. If you have the time, also check out their collection of select cigars.
9046 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton; 303-904-7650

Balistreri Vineyards: Traditional Italian wine-craft right in the middle of Denver -- it doesn't seem possible. But Balistreri offers some of the finest wines in the city. On the red side, their award-winning varities include a Syrah, Merlot, Cab, Zin, Port and delicious Colorado cherry wines. On the white end, they barrel their own Viognier and Muscats.
1946 E. 66th Ave.; 303-287-5156

Boulder Creek Winery: Well-known nationally and winning awards since 2003 for its non-traditional white Merlot and Riesling, Boulder Creek Winery is a craft-wine maker at heart. They produce a modest 2,000 cases annually and try to stay specialized on high-end whites rather than the red fare. You can also take a self-guided tour and get an inside look at the entire operation.
6440 Odell Place, Boulder; 303-516-9031

Bookcliff Vineyards: Their vineyards will make a believer out of any Colorado wine skeptic -- 33 acres growing ten varieties including Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne, Muscat Blanc and Orange Muscat, Merlot and Syrah. Bookcliff's shop is in the heart of Boulder and sells its wines along with Belvedere Chocolates -- a perfect wine pairing if there ever was one.
1468 Pearl St., Boulder; 303-449-9463