A Long Weekend in the Heart of Colorado’s Wine Country
Despite there being more than 100 wineries inside of state lines, a majority of every-day wine drinkers in Colorado are still unaware of the vineyard experiences that lie just three-and-half hours west of our capitol city. The Grand Valley is an easy morning’s drive from Denver and most points along the Front Range. This itinerary serves as a great introduction to the gateway of Colorado wine.
Arrive from the Front Range, taste some wine, eat some local fruit and sip on a cocktail
Stop 1: Mesa Park Vineyards
Once in town, it’s a simple 15-minute drive to this winery atop East Orchard Mesa. It offers views of the Grand Mesa and Bookcliffs and a quaint red-barn that serves as a tasting room. The property grows the Bordeaux grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot), and other wine styles include Riesling and dessert offerings.
Stop 2: Z’s Orchards
While we love the grape production of Palisade, it’s hard to argue that peaches are in fact the gold-standard crop in the valley. It’s said that visitors from Georgia refuse to bring our peaches back with them for fear the word will get out that Colorado peaches are actually better. Z’s is a family-run farm that grows several varieties of peaches that start blooming mid summer and last until September. The farm stand offers amazing local fruit including nectarines, apricots and cherries. Tours are available on Mondays and by appointment.
Stop 3: Palisade Cafe for dinner
For the most part, haute cuisine is the exception not the rule in Palisade. Sometimes comfort food is perfect during a wine-soaked weekend. The Palisade Cafe is the locals’ spot for a burger, salads and live music. It is tasty and affordable, but most importantly, gives a peek into life in this agricultural-minded town.
Stop 4: Peach Street Distillers
The best drink in wine country is often something other than wine. Cocktails and beers are welcome palate cleansers after a day of tasting, and Peach Street is one of the top micro-distillers in the state. The tasting room is more bar than tasting. Their take on a Moscow Mule is perhaps the most popular cocktail and the outdoor patio bustles on weekend nights.
A full day of golf, bicycles and wine
Stop 1: Redlands Mesa Golf Club
There really isn’t a description that can do this golf course justice. Located at the foot of Colorado National Monument, Redlands Mesa’s holes knife through brilliant red-rock formations and offer several elevated tee boxes with stunning views befitting of a national park (which Colorado National Monument is expected to become shortly). Simply, you will lose your golf balls because the views will take your eyes off your shot.
Stop 2: Rapid Creek Cycles
Since you likely took a golf cart for your round of 18, it’s time to start really working off the wine- and food-calories by taking a cruiser bicycle for the afternoon’s wine tastings. There are several wineries located within a few miles of town, and the pavement is flat.
Stop 3: Garfield Estate Vineyards
With a stunning vineyard that backs up to the Bookcliffs, the view from behind the winery is surreal. This winery offers a balanced lineup of whites (try the Fume Blanc) and reds (Cabernet Franc) and the tasting room is located in the upstairs of the production area, requiring a walk through the barrels to get to the wine bar.
Stop 4: Maison la Belle Vie
A Frenchman in the middle of Palisade? Stranger things have happened. Still, visiting this winery, owned by John Barbier, will paint your Colorado wine experience with a bit of Old World French hospitality.
Stop 5: Plum Creek Winery
One of the founding wineries of Colorado, Plum Creek is still churning out some of the highest quality and top value wines in the industry today. More than three decades of experience have been poured into the winery, which regularly takes home awards with its strong lineup of whites and reds.
Stop 6: Tapestry Lounge at the Wine Country Inn
After a long day of tasting and golf, finding dinner at the bar of the Wine Country Inn is a perfect night cap. It’s relaxed and the menu is delightful, borrowing from the culinary skills used in the property’s fine-dining restaurant, Caroline’s. The burger is a standout, and the dining room fireplace adds a cozy ambiance.
A leisurely morning before heading back to reality
Stop 1: Palisade Farmers Market
No Sunday is complete in Palisade without a stroll through its weekly market. It’s a fitting end to the trip and offers the chance to stockpile local produce before the drive back over the Divide.
Stop 2: Blue Pig Gallery
Perhaps Palisade’s best kept secret, the town is a hotbed for local artists. The Blue Pig is the largest gallery in Palisade and showcases a diverse selection of the Grand Valley’s top artists.