Tale of two Colorado wine boards


Colorado wine is pretty lucky for a small wine-producing state. It has two major organizations that support it: The Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology and the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

Both strive to raise awareness and the quality bar for Colorado wine. The only problem is few understand the difference between the two (industry members included). We’re here to fix that!

The most obvious difference being that CAVE is a non profit, and the Wine Board a state entity that works within the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Here’s a primer to understand all the other differences between the Wine Board and CAVE.

Colorado Association for Viticulture and EnologyCAVE focuses specifically on encouraging and supporting enology and viticulture in Colorado, with much of its efforts member facing (wineries pay an annual fee to be a member; see current members). This includes promoting grape growing and winemaking interests on the political level, encouraging the exchange of ideas on how to do both better, networking with other wine trade organizations, and fundraising to support programs.

CAVE raises a majority of its money by hosting two of the largest consumer facing Colorado wine events each year: Colorado Mountain Winefest and Colorado Urban Winefest. It has a board of directors, voted on by its membership. CAVE also employs an executive director and a program director.

Its marketing efforts are geared toward the wine festivals and the Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway, which supports local agritourism. CAVE also pays a large percentage of the cost to fund the Colorado State University enologist Dr. Stephen Menke on staff in Palisade (the Wine Board and CSU also pay a portion).

Colorado Wine Industry Development BoardMeanwhile, the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board aims to increase the quality of wine in the state and serves as the major consumer facing entity.

It receives most of its money through a penny-per-liter tax on all wine sold in Colorado (whether it’s made in Colorado or from France). Its nine-person board is appointed by the governor, and it has a staff that includes an executive director and a half-time research and outreach coordinator.

On the research end, it fully funds the state’s viticulturist (Dr. Horst Caspari, who studies grape growing), and partially pays for the CSU enologist (Dr. Stephen Menke, who studies winemaking). The state enologist’s salary is also paid by CAVE and Colorado State University. Working heavily with the enologist, Dr. Menke, the Wine Board is leading the Quality Assurance Initiative, which is a voluntary program that allows wineries to identify production problems and work with the state to fix them.

The Wine Board is also tasked with most of the consumer-facing marketing, which comes in the form of public relations, producing a wine industry brochure that maps the state’s wineries, commercials and advertising buys.