As part of The Grand Valley AVA (American Viticultural Areas), there are approximately 18 wineries in Palisade CO with over 25 within a seven mile radius. Though you can find some sweeter whites like rieslings and fruit wines, the high altitude, ample sun and cool nights produce some great red wines, from syrahs and grenaches, rich in color, flavor and smooth tannins.
I have been to many wine growing regions in the US. The area around Palisade has some of the most beautiful views that I have every experienced.
I was so pleased to have found Varaison Vineyards and Winery and to have met Alexander West the winemaker. I didn’t have time for a full tasting so he gave me an abbreviated, private one. It turns out that they spend a lot of time on education and not just tasting. He was so knowledgeable about wines and wine making. I enjoyed tasting three of their four red wines, a petit syrah, a cab and a malbec. All were excellent. It is located in an historic home built in 1904 and located at 405 W. First St.
Grande River Vineyards: At 787 N. Elberta, this winery makes traditional Bordeaux-style wines using local grapes. Their wines include a Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Meritage White blend, Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec, Meritage Red blend, an award winning Cabernet Franc and a Cabernet Sauvignon, . The Malbec and Meritage Red which is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec were by far the best I tasted.
Talon Winery: Talon is a Palisade winery making wines made from 100% locally-grown grapes. Though their Rose was a little too sweet for my taste, and their Talon Rock Red a little light, their Wingspan Red, a Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc was dry and full-bodied and quite good. 385 Elberta Ave.
Attached to the the Talon tasting room is the tasting room for their other brand, St. Kathryn Cellars which specializes in sweeter whites and fruit wines made with apples, peaches, pears, cherries and other local fruits. I was not a big fan of sweet wines, but did try their peach and pear varietals which were recommended as two of their best.
Restoration Vineyards: This is a lovely vineyard with large outdoor patio that hosts live music and food trucks on weekends. They currently make a Sauvignon Banc, Chardonnay, Red Blend, Barbara and Cabernet Franc. The views from the vineyard are really stunning.
Avant Vineyards: This is a small winery and tasting room that features their whites, reds, rosé and sparkling wines. I very much enjoyed the Cabernet Franc Rosé. The property has beautiful views of the mountains.
Colterris at the Overlook: Four miles southwest of downtown Palisade, at 3907 N River Rd, is an award winning winery that produces Bordeaux grape varietals that results in some bold red wines, rich in color, flavor and smooth tannins. Though their Cabernet Franc was good, their Cabernet Sauvignon was really excellent!
On my recent trip in August 2023, I went back and enjoyed tasting the Livid Malbec Rosé with notes of red fruits.
I recently read in Food & Wine Magazine, that Carlson Vineyards is a great spot for their Rieslings and Gewürztraminers. I stopped in for a tasting at this small vineyard and really enjoyed the 365 Red Blend with notes of pomegranates, plums, cherries. They have a lovely outdoor patio in the rear. 461 35 Rd.
Carboy Winery at Mt. Garfield Estate: Since 2016, this is a Palisade winery with stunning views of Mount Garfield and the Book Cliff Mountains from the rooftop patio. They feature live music in addition to tastings and cocktails. In 2021 added 30+ acres of vineyards in the Grand Valley plus tasting rooms in Denver Littleton and Breckinridge.
Their wines include Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon along with sparkling wines and wine seltzers. 372 G Rd.
Maison La Belle Vie Winery & Amy’s Courtyard: Maison la Belle Vie makes wine with a French influence. These include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Blends, Rosè and Vin de Peche, “a recipe from the original owners family that has been passed down through the generations since the 1800’s.” I loved the Reserve Merlot and Red Blend. They have a lovely patio, Amy’s Courtyard, where they feature events.
Red Fox Cellars: At 695 36 Rd. is Red Fox Cellars, a small family run local winery that makes wine and hard ciders. They make a Cabernet Saugivnon, Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Rosé, a 44 Red Blend, Bourbon Barrel Aged Merlot, Malbec and more.
Colorado Cellars, from 1978, is oldest winery in Colorado. It makes a number of award winning wines from reds, whites, ports, fruit wines and mead. The original brand was Colorado Mountain Vineyards. Today’s brand also include Rocky Mountain Vineyards and the Orchard Mesa Wine Company. I enjoyed the Mountain Vineyard’s red blend.
I also enjoyed visiting Sage Creations, a lovely store selling lavender products including jams, lotions and oils, soaps and sachets. You can also explore the lavender fields, the grounds and the greenhouse. I am enjoying the sachet, that I bought, at home in Chicago! 3555 E. Rd.
In addition to wineries, you can find meaderies, distilleries and breweries.
The owners of Talon Winery and St. Kathryn Cellars also own Meadery of the Rockies which specializes in making 15 different orange blossom honey meads. This was my first experience with tasting meads. Mead is the fermented mixture of honey and water that dates back for centuries. It was developed in China in 7000 BC and in Europe before 2000 BC. I remember it from High School and reading the Old English epic poem Beowulf. 3701 G Road (Hwy 6).
They have four traditional meads with varying degrees of residual sugar. Their Honey Sher’e is one that is aged for six months in oak barrels. I enjoyed trying this plus some of their other meads offerings. Current production includes apricot, blackberry, peach and strawberry honey wines. three sweet honey wines and a chocolate cherry honey wine. They are typically light, crisp and sweet. I preferred the more traditional ones.
Peach Street Distillers: At 144 S. Kluge Ave Bldg. 2, this is one of the two oldest craft distilleries in the state. Their fun bar/tasting room offers samples of their spirits and cocktails for sale. They produce bourbon including one that is peach infused, vodka, gin and pear gin, peach and pear brandies made from local fruit. I really liked their Colorado Straight Bourbon which is aged in new American oak for three years. It is smooth and very pleasing even to a long-time Scotch drinker. This bourbon is Colorado’s first legal bourbon since Prohibition. Peach Street was named the Craft Distillery For The Year in 2012 by the American Distilling Institute in Louisville, KY.
Palisade Brewing Company: 200 Peach Ave. Don’t miss the tasting room of this small craft brewery which overlooks their brewery. Their Laid Back Blonde, their lightest beer, was very good but my favorite was the Dirty Hippie Dark Wheat Ale that was very smooth for a darker beer. It is made with chocolate and caramel malts. Serving it with a slice of orange, really added to the great taste.