26 Nov 2013, 10:14am
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Perfectly Palisade: Colorado’s Wine Country

The View from Canyon Wind

The View from Canyon Wind Cellars

What a wintery time it has been here in Colorado! It even snowed on the western slope in Palisade/Grand Junction, an area known as the bread basket/banana belt of the state where it’s typically twenty degrees warmer than in the mountains. I did a getaway there with a friend over the weekend and reveled in exploring Colorado’s wine country; I loved seeing the vines beneath a frosty blanket of white. Vineyards the world over are picturesque, however, I find the contrast of the rows and rows of vines backdropped by the dramatic, buff-colored rock towers and cliffs here—known as the Book Cliffs—especially striking.

Kicking Off the Weekend at the Wine Country Inn with Fran

Kicking Off the Weekend at the Wine Country Inn with Fran

The Porch of the Wine Country Inn

The Porch of the Wine Country Inn

These wineries receive a lot of visitors during the summer months although this time of year is an excellent time to go, too. Not only do I consider this to be good wine sipping weather, but these establishments also showcase a cornucopia of gift items for your holiday entertaining as well as for the food and wine enthusiasts on your list. Plus, I’d rather shop, savor and sightsee any day in the middle of these orchards and vineyards surrounded by so much natural beauty. There’s not a billboard or fast food in sight and the welcome offered by the shop people and wineries is as warm and toasty as a glass of full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon.

We stayed at the Wine Country Inn, a very pleasant eighty-room property, which opened in Palisade about five years ago. My friend, Fran, and I checked in just in time for the welcome glass of wine and we felt instantly transported into the world of the grape wrapped in this establishment’s warm, earth toned decor surrounded by paintings of the vineyards. The folks at the bar—both the staff and the fellow travelers we met—were super friendly and happy to share addresses and impressions about the wineries and restaurants in the area. We opted for a casual dinner at the Palisade Cafe where we enjoyed live music, leaving the real wine tasting for the next day.

Fueled by an extraordinary buffet breakfast served at the Inn—a real spread replete with tasty scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy and homemade peach strudel—we set out with our Palisade & East Orchard Area Map and a few special recommendations to explore Colorado’s renowned wine country. We hit four wineries which I’ve highlighted below where we tasted delicious wines and even a bit of fudge. Within just a couple of hours, we sipped, shopped and shared a cartful of laughs. To me, that’s what you call a successful holiday shopping foray. All of the tastings we experienced were complimentary and I was thrilled to discover many fine wines to my liking.

Every Girl's Fantasy:  Fruit Wines and Fudge from St. Kathryn Cellars

Every Girl’s Fantasy: Fruit Wines and Fudge from St. Kathryn Cellars

The Tasting Room at St. Kathryn Cellars

The Tasting Room at St. Kathryn Cellars

Canyon Wind Cellars

Canyon Wind Cellars

The Tasting Room at Canyon Wind

The Tasting Room at Canyon Wind

Indeed, my opinion of Colorado wines has grown tenfold as a result of this trip and I recommend mountain-bound visitors consider penciling the charming town of Palisade and its fruit and wine region into their program as well. Or, you can do like me and just plan a quick getaway here if you’re lucky enough to live within a reasonable driving distance.

Wine Country Inn, 777 Grande River Drive, 970-464-5777, the most important inn and restaurant in Palisade for individuals and groups.

St. Kathryn Cellars/Talon Winery, 785 Alberta Avenue, 970-464-9288; owned and operated by the same family, these two wineries are connected which makes for a superlative shopping experience. Homemade fudge is sold here, too. Best known for their fruit wines, St. Kathryn Cellars offers a basketful of nectars that make for a festive drink when paired with sparkling wine.

Plum Creek Winery, 3708 G Road, 970-464-7586; located along the main road in Palisade, these wines are finely crafted by one of the few female winemakers in the region. I’ll be sipping their Merlot—which I liked very much—this year at Thanksgiving.

Canyon Wind Cellars, 3907 North River Road, 970-464-0888; I loved the dramatic setting of Canyon Wind, the intimacy of their tasting room and the fact that they often spontaneously conduct tours of the winery (including their beautiful cellar). Delicious wine, too.

Note that you can buy directly from most of the above websites.

Consider visiting Palisade and its wineries December 6 & 7 to take in their Olde Fashioned Christmas, two days of merrymaking for adults and children alike.

Be sure to leave time for poking about in some of the quaint boutiques of Palisade, especially at Lupita’s Bizarre Bazaar at 305 Main Street where you’ll find a colorful assortment of gift ideas housed within an old bank. Stop in for a sandwich, coffee and bundle of baked goods at Slice O’ Life, a bakery at 105 W. 3rd Street, that’s been a local’s favorite for three decades.

For more on Palisade including my own take on their celebrated fruit, read Peachy Keen on Palisade.

Oenophile Artwork at Talon

Oenophile Artwork at Talon Winery

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