Colorado industries, artists and scientists that had a good year in 2013

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(Photo: Courtesy of Lukas Panzarin)
<p>A sketch of the Nasutoceratops, a relative of the triceratops that Colorado scientists discovered in 2013.</p>

Despite massive flooding, destructive wildfires and a contentious political season, 2013 was a good year for many people, and businesses, in Colorado.

CPR listener Edwin Hurwitz of Boulder says 2013 was the year his son, Xander, finally beat the health challenges he has struggled with since birth.

After a long labor, Xander's lungs collapsed, causing seizures and brain damage but by Xander's first birthday in June, he was doing very well.

"The neurologist looked at us and said ‘well, the way he is now, if I didn’t see his chart, I would never know there was anything wrong’," Hurwitz told CPR. "And that was just an amazing moment -- who knows what the future may bring but 2013 was the year of a miracle."

Hurwitz shared his story through the Public Insight Network, which you can join by clicking here. Other listeners, like Emily Crawford and Kirk Wilson, told us about new jobs and Jeanne Timmons of Lafayette says 2013 was the year her family came together.

"I just couldn’t imagine that my siblings were going to pull together the way that we did and stay together after mom’s passing," Timmons says. "She was so much so the glue that held us together."

Timmons says her brothers only called to check on their mom's health and feared that after her mom, Grace, passed away last September, she wouldn't hear from her siblings any more.

But in 2013, that changed.

"My brother John in Pennsylvania invited all of us to his house for the first time to have Thanksgiving together," Timmons says. "And the laughter I heard, it brought me to tears.”

Timmons says that her Mom and Dad would just be so proud of the fact that “we’ve kept going.”

It was also a good year for a lot of industries, artists and scientists in Colorado.

In particular, the number of wineries in Colorado topped 100 this year and grape production has doubled in the last decade, a payoff for an industry that started to show signs of growth about 15 years ago.

"Colorado, like any small wine industry, has to go through a learning process as those of us who are winemakers learn what to do with the fruit that we have, and how to grow the grapes here," Nancy Janes, who makes wine at Whitewater Hill Vineyards in Grand Junction, says.

The Western Slope has been ground-zero for Colorado's growing wine business.

"And now we’re getting to the point that we know what to do,” Janes says.

Janes adds that they are “making some really good wines and getting some good national recognition for them."

Parker Carlson makes wine in Palisade and says the Grand Valley has become a tourist destination for wine.

And those tourists spent more money this year than in years past.

"Before the recession they’d go, 'I want one of those, one of those, one of those,'” Carlson says. “During the recession it was more: 'I’m going to get two bottles -- let me think about this.'”

Carlson says customers have returned to the pre-recession buying habits.

“The people we see in the taste room are more upbeat about it,” Carlson adds. “I hope it’s not just the alcohol talking."

Dave Buchanan covers the wine industry for The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, and he recently wrote a book called "Drink It In: Wine Guide of Western Colorado." One of his favorite Colorado wines is Bookcliff Vineyards' red blend, which includes Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and which Buchanan says will cost about $10.99 in stores.

In Colorado politics, CPR's Megan Verlee says both Republicans and Democrats can say 2013 was a good year.

CPR's Megan Verlee reports that the first four months of the year were really good for the Democrats, because they regained control of the State House and successfully acted on a number of the party's policy priorities.

But the remaining eight months of the year have mostly belonged to Republicans with historic recalls of two Democratic state senators and the resignation of a third, along with the defeat of Amendment 66, the school funding measure on the November ballot.

The state health exchange started slowly and polls show that Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Mark Udall, both Democrats running for reelection in 2014, are vulnerable.

For the arts in Colorado in 2013, the good news starts with the Colorado Symphony getting a new director, Andrew Litton.

On the new music scene, OpenAir's Jessi Whitten says 2013 was a great year for the Greater Than Collective.

The Greater Than Collective is a new kind of record label launched in 2011 by the local restaurant chain Illegal Pete's and aims to promote and support local musical talent through promotions, album distributions and more.

Whitten says artists in the collective have put out a lot of new music, videos and have been touring successfully.

CPR Arts Editor Chloe Veltman says 2013 was a particularly good year for Wonderbound, a Denver-based dance company that launched under a new brand name, as the company moved into a new space and undertook several critically-acclaimed projects in collaboration with a diverse range of artists.

Veltman also points to Boulder-based fashion designer Carolann Wachter who won accolades for her sophisticated fashion line and is poised to re-launch her work in New York.

Finally, in science, 2013 was a great year for the Mars MAVEN mission, which launched in September.

The spacecraft is poised to be the first to investigate the upper atmosphere of the red planet according to Scott Sampson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science who attended the launch.

Sampson says almost all of MAVEN's development, launch and discoveries are rooted in Colorado, from the campus of CU-Boulder to the contractors that built the spacecraft.

One other reason 2013 was a good year for science in Colorado: the dinosaur that Sampson helped discover, called Nasutoceratops, or "big-nosed horned face," which is a distant relative of the triceratops.

And finally, Colorado Matters' poet David Rothman wrote a New Year's poem, inspired in part by the stories CPR listeners shared of their good year. You can read the poem here.