Palisade, Colorado is an agricultural mecca for the state. It is nestled in the Grand Valley Region of the Western Slope, just outside of Grand Junction, along the Colorado River. It boasts of having 300+ days of sunshine and a growing season of about 180 days per year. There is a wide variety of crops grown in Palisade, but it is really famous for two specific crops; peaches Peaches from Palisade and wine grapes.
About 75% of the acreage in Palisade is devoted to growing Colorado’s premium wine grape vineyards. The most prevalent grapes grown in the region are chardonnay, merlot, sauvingon blanc and cabernet sauvignon, although there are other varietals produced there as well. Grape growing for wines has been around the Palisade area since 1890. When European immigrants settled into the Grand Valley Region, they brought their winemaking traditions and viticulture skills with them. They produced wines in the region until the times of prohibition, which started in 1916 in Colorado, four years earlier than for the rest of the United States. This unfortunately abruptly ended winemaking in Colorado until 1968. In 1968, a Denver dentist by the name of Dr. Gerald Ivancie, with the help of aspiring winemaker Warren Winiarski, from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, founded the first modern winery in Colorado in Dr. Ivancie’s cellar. Dr. Ivancie and Mr. Winiarski were the driving forces behind reintroducing winemaking into the Grand River Region of Palisade and Grand Junction in the 1970’s. The first bottle of wine made solely with Colorado grapes was produced by Jim and Ann Seewald in 1978. This was history in the making, and grapes and Colorado wines were put on the maps for a place to try up and coming wines from thence forward. Today, in the best of growing conditions, Colorado’s vineyards produce anywhere from 2.5 -3.5 tons per of grapes per acre. Most other wine regions of the world produce 4-5 tons per acre. Every year tough, more and more Colorado wineries appear and more and more Colorado wines are being produced. We are catching up to the rest of the wine world. Watch out world, here we come!
A trip to the Grand River Region of both Grand Junction and Palisade would not be complete without at least a couple of stops to some of the local wineries. We honored the grape growing tradition by stopping in at two of the region’s oldest wineries. We definitely enjoyed the fruits of their vines, and of course, had to bring some home for later as well. Our first winery of the region was Ptarmigan Vineyards, which is owned By Stoney Mesa Winery, in nearby Cedaredge, CO. We stopped at Ptarmigan Vineyards before meeting with our friends Traci and Taryn, when we first arrived in Grand Junction. All the wines were delicious, but I really enjoyed the Rojo del Mesa. It was a rich and velvety red blend that was very smooth on the palette and will pair very nicely with a good, hearty steak.
Here I am toasting with our Hostess and owner, Betty, with a taste of the Rojo del Mesa.
The Ptarmigan Vineyards with a view of the valley.
Our second winery was The Grand River Vineyards. We stopped there as we started our homeward bound trek, at the end of our stay. “Grand River Vineyards planted their first grapes in 1987 and bottled their first wine in 1990.” Grande River is still considered a boutique winery, but is quickly growing. Depending on how well Mother Nature cooperates, Grande River Vineyards produce a wide selection of award winning wines, numbering between “5,000-7,000 cases of wine each year using 100% Colorado grown grapes”.
Larry and I inside the barrel room at Grande River Vineyards.
Some of the vineyards nestled at the food of the mesa.
Again, all the wines at Grande River were very good and very tasty. Of course, I had my favorites there too. My favorites at Grande River were the Lavande Vin Blanc (lavender white wine, infused with hints of lavender); the Viogner, hosting hints of honeysuckle, peaches, pineapple and nectarines; and the Malbec, which had the taste and aromas of cherries, plums and berries.
I also purchased a jar of some Palisade peach jam. I just couldn’t resist. After all, I love my peaches too and the peaches from Palisade are beyond comparison. They are the best peaches I have ever tasted.
You can learn more about both Ptarmigan Vineyards and Grand River Vineyards by checking out their websites.
***Ptarmigan Vineyards can be reached at http://www.visitgrandjunction.com/…/ptarmigan–vineyards
Grand River Vineyards can be reached at granderiverwines.com.