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A View of Colorado Distilleries Using Mapping Software

As many of you know, the craft beer explosion has been hitting Colorado for years, becoming one of the main staples of the Colorado economy with hundreds of breweries littered across our colorful state.  Sampling craft beer at local breweries, a very popular activity among many adults, has become a mainstay of the Colorado culture. This phenomenon is not limited to beer; the craft beverage industry seems to keep growing and growing. Craft distilleries are also popping up all over the place. Colorado is now home to over 70 craft distilleries, providing a home for locals to sip some of the best tasting and finest quality spirits in the country. This artisan drink trend is creating a new sub-culture of bar-goers, where the distillery tasting rooms are their new target destinations.

As this trend increases in popularity, my curiousity rises, and I ask myself, “Where are these 71 distilleries located across the state? Are there any near my neighborhood in Denver? ” I put together an easy solution by using a combination of the internet, Surfer, MapViewer, Google Earth, and beginner-level GIS experience. I started the project by doing a little internet research to find the addresses of the distilleries in Colorado. Once I had done so, I used our mapping software Surfer to generate a data table of the addresses that were then geo-coded. With data that is geo-coded, it was fairly simple to create a post map in Surfer of all of the distillery locations across Colorado. Finally, I exported the post map from Surfer in KML format and imported it into Google Earth for seamless display of the distillery locations on that platform. I used the following approach to answer my questions :

Acquiring the Data:

After a few minutes of Google searching, I was able to find a good online resource that lists food, beer, and wine producers in Colorado. I used the website to acquire the names and addresses of the 71 distilleries across the state. I copied the data from the website and pasted it into Surfer’s worksheet. In the worksheet, I was able to clean up the data and confirm that I had separate columns for distillery name, address, city, state, and zip code, which are the standard required fields for geo-coding.

Geocoding the Data:

With a nice data file that contains the distillery information, it was time to identify the Lat/Lon coordinates for these locations so they can be plotted spatially on a map. I used MapViewer to Geocode the addresses and exported the data to DAT format.

Surfer - Editing data in the worksheet window

Colorado distillery data that has been geo-coded in MapViewer.

Plotting the Data:

With a geocoded data file that has all 71 distilleries, creating a post map in the Surfer mapping software was straight-forward. I used the steps below to create a post map combined with a Colorado county base map, overlaid on a National Agricultural Inventory Program aerial image. 

The steps I used in Surfer are:

1.       I clicked Map | New | Post Map.

2.       In the Open Data dialog, I navigated to the data file named CO_Distilleries.xls and clicked Open.

3.       The post map layer needs to have a coordinate system assigned to it, so I selected it in the Object Manager, clicked the Coordinate System tab in the Property Manager and clicked the Set button.

4.       In the Assign Coordinate System dialog, I navigated to Predefined | Geographic (lat/lon) | World Geodetic System 1984 and clicked OK.

5.       I also turned the labels on for the post map by selecting it in the Object Manager, clicking the Labels tab in the Property Manager, and changing the Worksheet column to Column C: Name.

6.       Now that I have the point locations of the 71 distilleries posted on a georeferenced map, I added a Colorado boundary file by selecting the map and clicking Map | Add | Base Layer.

7.       In the Import dialog, I navigated to CO2010.gsb and clicked Open.

8.       I also added an image from a WMS server by selecting the map and clicking the Map | Add | Base Layer from Server command.

9.       In the Download Online Maps dialog, I selected the USGS_EROS_Ortho_NAIP server, increased the resolution, and clicked OK to download the base image for the state.

An excerpt from the resulting Surfer mapping software is below; it gave me a good idea of where the distilleries are and how they are dispersed across the state.

 Surfer - post map of Colorado distilleries

Colorado distilleries plotted as a post map in Surfer.

Exporting the Data:

Although the map I created in Surfer gave me a good assessment of the distilleries’ disbursement across the state at a large scale, I really wanted to get a feel of where the distilleries near and around Denver are located compared to one another and the various districts in the area.  Google Earth is a great way to incorporate data that I have generated in Surfer with the various layers that Google Earth offers and allows for a nifty fly through. I decided to export the post map to Google Earth’s KML format from Surfer, so I could easily navigate around the area and view the various locations of specific distilleries.

The steps I used to create the KML in Surfer are:

1.       In the Object Manager, I clicked the Map to select it.

2.       I clicked File | Export.

3.       In the Export dialog, I named the file Colorado Distilleries, changed the Save as type to KML, checked the Show options dialog box, and clicked Save.

4.       In the Export Options dialog, I clicked the KML/KMZ Options tab, set the Text Objects to Export as labels, and clicked OK.

To display the KML on Google Earth, I opened Google Earth and clicked File | Open. In the Open dialog I navigated to Colorado Distilleries.kml and clicked Open. As you can see below, the KML file created in Surfer mapping software adds a great layer to Google Earth where I can now easily find a distillery and what’s going on around it. I may want to pop into one of the tasting rooms for a night cap!

Google Earth map of KML created in Surfer

Colorado distillery locations displayed in Google Earth.


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Wednesday, 08 February 2023

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