9 Must-Visit Wineries to Add to Your Palisade Itinerary (5280 Magazine)

By Ethan Pan & Patricia Kaowthumrong
June 6, 2024
Carlson Vineyard Backyard Seating Area

There’s never been a better time to plan a Grand Valley sipping tour

Colorado wine is growing up. “The state of the industry right now is kind of one of transition/maturation,” says Kyle Schlachter, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. “We’ve had some wineries that have sold or gone out of business in the last couple of years, but we’ve also had a handful that are really growing by leaps and bounds.”

With more than 170 licensed wineries in Colorado, around 30 of which are in or near Palisade, there are now more winemakers here than ever, producing everything from straight-forward reds and whites to ambitious skin-contact sparklings and funky, naturally fermented wines. And unlike beer or spirits, according to Schlachter, a majority of Colorado wine is made with local grapes grown in the Grand Valley and West Elks American Viticultural Areas, where pockets of fertile land experience just-right climate conditions for the fruit to thrive.

But in Colorado, preexisting volatility compounded with climate change has impacted farmers. In late 2020 and early 2021, a number of unexpected frosts decimated most of the state’s Vitis vinifera grapevines (which includes most well-known varietals like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling). While growers have bounced back, partly by investing in cold-hardy hybrid varieties—Schlachter estimates that hybrids have climbed from five to 25 percent of the state’s total grape production in the past five years—that doesn’t mean there aren’t new challenges the industry faces.

“One of the new challenges is the overall decline in wine consumption,” Schlachter says, “in either drinking less [wine] or choosing not to drink at all.” In fact, since a pandemic-driven peak in 2020, wine consumption has been falling nationally. Schlachter believes that’s partially due to increased competition from ready-to-drink cocktails, hard seltzers, and marijuana, but furthermore, Americans, specifically young adults who are already less likely to choose wine, are increasingly trying to drink less.

But these Palisade wineries are continuing to prove that, should you choose to drink, sourcing your glass locally is worth the effort. Here, some of our favorite Palisade wineries and recommendations for what to sip at each.

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