Location: Palisade, CO
Distance from Denver: 231 miles (~4 hours) ♡ ♡
Parking Situation: We had no issues parking (ton of space to parallel park in Palisade; metered parking in downtown Grand Junction / bring coins!) ♡ ♡ ♡
Where We Stayed: Residence Inn Grand Junction
Where We Ate: Bin 707 Foodbar | 626 on Rood | Tacos el Gordo | Which Wich
Sights We Saw: Colorado National Monument
Wineries We Went To: St Kathryn, Talon, Meadery, Maison la Belle, & Carlson (must visit!)
Palisade is such a cute little small town! We originally had plans to go to Crested Butte for the Wildflower Festival, but the forecast for the weekend called for rain so we quickly pivoted to spending a weekend in Palisade instead. I didn't know what to expect, but I adore the peaches from Palisade so we hopped in our car and 4 hours later found ourselves in the heart of wine country Colorado. The thing that surprised us the most about Palisade was the stark contrast in geography - on one side of the highway is a beautiful, fertile green field that is Palisade, on the other side are brown, desolate, and arid sand dunes. They had an extensive ATV course so if that's your jam, this is the perfect place to go exploring!
When you think small town Americana, you think Palisade. There are the quaintest little farm stands along the side of the road! Be sure to stop by here as they have the best fruit!
This cute little pink stall was our absolute favorite because not only were the peaches so incredibly succulent, the people working there were the sweetest! We saw a fruit called the "plumcot" on the shelves and asked one of the ladies about it - on top of explaining what it was (a fiber rich hybrid of plums and apricots), she offered to cut up a plumcot for us so we could try it! We just loved the quality of their products and the service and would highly recommend stopping by to get your own box of Palisade peaches (ask for "seconds") & whatever other produce / jam / salsa they have in stock!
Another fruit stand that caught our eye was this one themed like the wild, wild, west :) What a cute idea!
Downtown Palisade itself is very small. Like so small that there are no lights - only stop signs. It almost seemed deserted, but we would walk into stores and see a person or two working in them. Granted, it was about 100 out, but still was a bit eerie to see how empty everything was!
We spent a total of two days in Palisade - Saturday at the wineries and Sunday at Colorado National Monument (post will be up Thursday!) and the Farmer's Market in Palisade. We had plans to go rafting in Grand Junction on Sunday morning, but the rafting company had to cancel because the water levels were dangerously low. We were so sad about this but will be back to go rafting down here!
Before we get into the nitty gritty of where to taste wine: safety first! :) If all of the members of your group plan to drink, the safest way to get around town is obviously Uber. They also have bikes that you can rent and ride along what's called the "Fruit & Wine Byway" that connects all of the wineries together. If this is how you choose to go, grab a map downtown when you rent your bikes (there is a Chamber of Commerce across the street from the rental place, next to the Bank, that has pamphlets outside!)
I guess we should mention a third mode of transportation: by horse drawn carriage! Haha! When in Palisade ... ;)
OK so now to the fun part! The wine! Keep in mind that virtually every place here (the cider beer shop excluded) offers between 3-5 free pours per person! We were fully ready to pay for the tastings and were very pleasantly surprised that we didn't have to!
We started our tasting at St. Kathryn's because our waitress at Bin 707 recommended it.
You'll notice this building because it is one of the first off of the highway. It is attached to the Talon tasting room (which we went to second) and are both owned by the same owner. The tasting rooms themselves are large open spaces with a sizeable bar and has an extensive menu of the wines that each winery produces. Both St Kathryn and Talon offer five (5!) free pours for each person so you know we were like OK BUCKLE UP! We ended up purchasing the lavender wine from St Kathryn ($16) before heading on our way.
Our next stop was the Meadery (also owned by the owners of St Kathryn / Talon). We had never had mead before and were incredibly excited to try it! Apparently all mead is, is fermented honey water. Cool right!? Some of the basic ones literally just tasted like honey + water. They had some intriguing flavors (raspberry, cherry) but we liked the plain sweet mead the best.
The fourth stop on our tour was Maison la Belle. We absolutely loved the ambiance! They have the cutest shaded patio, exposed vineyards that you can walk in, and a "villa" modeled after old France / Italy. The inside is quite crowded so be prepared to be on top of your neighbor when you taste wine.
Maison la Belle offers three (3) free pours per person. They specialize in dry wines, so this was harder for me to appreciate (Brandon also thought it was meh). I did fall in love with a sweet rose, so we ended up purchasing a bottle of it.
We spent quite a bit of time on the patio here and were so intrigued by people watching. Inebriated people on bikes = hours of fun. Trust us!
For our last stop, we decided to go to the Carlson Vineyards. The route from Maison la Belle to Carlson winds through a more remote part of town, so just keep that in mind if you are biking. But you guys, YOU HAVE TO GO TO CARLSON! It was by and far our favorite winery in Palisade!
So this tasting room (& winery overall) is a bit different than the others in that it is neither large nor elaborate. They do not serve their tastings in real wine glasses as in the other places, but do so in plastic cups. But honestly, this lack of pretentious-ness is what makes this winery such a special spot. The people here are so sweet and our host (Joe) literally went down their entire list of wine and let us try a bit of everything! We even took the "cherry bomb" challenge - drinking cherry wine with chocolate rim in the most ridiculous manner. If you end up going here, please send us our picture! We can't wait to see how hilarious we look! Brandon especially :)
We headed back to Grand Junction for the evening, but were back in Palisade the next afternoon for the farmer's market!
Overall, we enjoyed our weekend getaway to Palisade. If you want to get away from big city life, this is a fun and quick trip to the southwestern part of this beautiful state!
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