WineInk: Palisade beckons

Kelly J. Hayes
A trip to Palisade is always a great idea.
Visit Palisade/Courtesy photo

There are few better ways to spend a summer day than walking a vineyard and tasting wines. You might think you need to book a flight to California or Oregon to do so, but right here in Colorado is a gem of a wine town chock full of wineries, tasting rooms, and fine restaurants.

Palisade is in the Grand Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), just east of Grand Junction on I-70, a two-hour drive along the Colorado River from Aspen’s Main Street. While other regions and wineries in the state are worth a visit (especially Sutcliffe Vineyards in the Four Corners region and, near Hotchkiss, The Storm Cellar and Jack Rabbit Hill), no other area of Colorado has the collection of quality producers found in and around Palisade. Each summer, wine lovers and fun seekers converge there to taste the wines and admire the views of the surrounding mesas and mountains.

There is a fast-growing wine scene in Palisade where young producers are making wines from non-traditional grape varieties that have been planted with the hope that they may be well-suited for the region. International grapes like Chambourcin — a relatively-new French/American hybrid grape that makes delicious, fruity red wines — and the Northern Italian red grape Teroldego from the mountains of Trentino in Italy along with the Austrian Grüner Veltliner are all being planted. And several other hybrid varieties are being experimented with, as well.

Sauvage Spectrum Winery.
Visit Palisade/Courtesy photo

The wineries

There are over 30 wineries in the Grand Valley AVA, and all have their unique character.

Here are a handful to look for on your Palisade adventure:

The Blue Beryl

3587 G 7/10 Rd.

(970) 712-0679

A relatively new addition to the Grand Valley wine scene, this intimate modern tasting room at the base of Mt. Garfield, features wines that are grown and made by a mother-daughter team, Jackie Wells, the mom and vineyard manager, and her daughter, winemaker (and artist) Courtney Kiel. The vibe is mellow and relaxed, and the wines, especially the Malbec Rosé, are perfect for summer sips. And beautifully-labeled, as well.

Car Boy Winery at Mt. Garfield Estate

3572 G Rd.

(970) 464-0941

Fast becoming a Colorado wine powerhouse, the boys from Car Boy have opened four tasting locations throughout the state in Denver, Littleton, Breckenridge, and Palisade. The Palisade facility, in their Mt. Garfield Estate vineyard, is home to a 4,000-square-foot sparkling wine production facility where they make a series of bubbles in what they call their GRAND collection. Last summer, they introduced their GRAND CUVEE at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. One of the best places to get a feel for what is happening in Colorado Wine, Car Boy has also found great success with their Colorado-grown Teroldego, winning “Best of Show” honors two years in a row in Colorado’s annual Governor’s Cup wine competition.

Colterris Winery

3907 N River Rd.

(970) 464-1150

For traditionalists, Colterris is the most Napa-like winery in the state. Family-owned and operated by Scott and Theresa High and their family, the winery, with its gleaming steel fermentation tanks and a cellar full of French Oak barrels, has a patio surrounded by vineyards. A second tasting facility, Colterris at the Overlook, provides an amazing view of the entire region, and the recently-opened Colterris Collection, in what was formerly Plum Creek Winery, also has a formal tasting room and houses some of the more than 16,000 pieces of wine memorabilia Scott High has collected through the years.

Sauvage Spectrum

676 38 1/4 Rd.

(970) 208-3830

Few wineries anywhere are as prolific and vineyard-driven as Sauvage Spectrum. Grape grower Kaibab Sauvage, who is vineyard manager and consultant for a vast number of local wineries, and winemaker Patric Matysiewski who had previously worked at Denver’s Infinite Monkey Theorem, produce fresh, innovative wines that are fun to drink. They claim to make over 26 varieties of hand-harvested, still, and sparkling wine at their industrial warehouse winery and vineyard. On weekends, hundreds gather inside and around the winery in a party-like atmosphere, tasting wines and talking viticulture.

The Ordinary Fellow

202 Peach Road

(970) 464-2185

Founded by Ben Parsons, one of Colorado’s most important wine figures who originally opened Denver’s Infinite Monkey Theorem, this industrial warehouse and winery next to the Palisade Brewery on the outskirts of downtown is a terrific place to hang and drink wine. Parsons books barrel tastings with guests, where you can taste wines in production sourced from some of the highest vineyards in the state, located in the Southwestern corner of Colorado. A great Colorado experience.

Fidels Cocina and Bar, Palisade.
Visit Palisade/Courtesy photo



336 Main St.

(970) 464-4911

A French-inspired gem, this outstanding farm-to-table restaurant is a must-do. Operated by Culinary Institute of America-trained chef and owner Mathew Chasseur and his wife Ashley Fees Chasseur, who met during their tenure at Chicago’s acclaimed Alinea, the atmosphere and service are big-city great in a small-town environment. Peche, on its own, is worthy of a trip to Palisade.

Fidel’s Cocina and Bar

113 W 3rd St.

(970) 464.2888

Fidel’s Cocina, a taco and tequila bar in downtown (It was started by the owners of Spoke and Vine) maintains the casual ethos of the community and pours both local wines and killer margaritas.

The Wine Country Inn.
Visit Palisade/Courtesy photo


Spoke and Vine

424 W 8th St.

(970) 464.2211

A motel with a sleek modernist design, the clean, comfortable abode for bikers and wine lovers features blonde wood floors, incredibly comfy beds, and a go-to patio for hanging out with a post-ride cocktail when the food trucks drop by. It has become kind of a clubhouse for visitors to the region.

The Wine Country Inn

777 Grande River Drive

(970) 464-5777

With 80 guest rooms surrounded by 21 acres of vineyards, this farmhouse style is the most wine-centric destination in the state. The patios around the property put you amongst the vines in a sophisticated vino environment.

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