The Colorado Mountain Winefest may have introduced a lot of folks to the town of Palisade, Colorado, tucked in between Grand Junction and the Grand Mesa National Forest. But there are plenty of reasons to visit this quaint Western Slope community besides the annual festival for oenophiles.
Visitors may enjoy the local wineries all year round. Most of them — Plum Creek Winery, Garfield Estates and a dozen others — have tasting rooms, and many offer on-site tours. You can do a self-guided wine tasting tour by car, or on a bike. Or, you can opt for a guided tour by limousine or horse-drawn carriage, if you prefer. No matter what form of transportation you choose, a couple bottles of local wine make a delicious souvenir to bring home with you.
Palisade also is home to some of the best peaches in the world. The local bounty is celebrated during the city’s annual Peach Festival, in mid-August, with more than 100 vendors, a peach-eating competition, an ice cream social and more.
Some of the area’s earliest settlers were fruit farmers, and that agricultural tradition continues today. The town of Palisade is dotted with roadside farm stands that are filled with fresh, local produce during the summer months. In addition to peaches, you’ll find apples, cherries and more. There’s also a variety of locally made salsas, jams, honey and snacks. To find the Grand Valley’s bounty all in one place, drop by the Palisade farmers’ market, which happens Sundays June through September. Local artists and artisans, crafters, wineries and musicians give shoppers plenty to enjoy.
Visitors will find festivities throughout the spring and summer and Palisade, including a Bluegrass & Roots festival in mid-June and the Lavender Festival in mid-July. Spring festivals include the Honeybee Festival each April, and a Brews & Cruise Festival in early May.
The area’s premier event, the annual wine festival, happens the second weekend in September in Riverbend Park, a great place to visit even when there are not booths for sampling Colorado vintages and selling everything from handmade pottery to homemade peanut butter. The festival draws some 30,000 visitors, so it’s a little quieter when there’s no grape-stomping going on, and that’s the beauty of this idyllic spot on the banks of the Colorado River.
Whatever brings you to Palisade, be sure to check out the charming little downtown.
For a delicious meal, whether you’re a meat-eater or vegetarian, try the Palisade Café 11.0. If you’re just looking for a pastry — say, a peachy treat — then check out the Slice O Life Bakery next door. Locals also like the Red Rose Café, which serves up a curious-yet-delicious array of Italian, Vietnamese and American food. If you’re in the mood for fresh Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, head to Inari’s, or grab some pizza at DiOrio’s.
Even if you aren't a wine aficionado, you can taste other locally made beverages. Palisade Brewing offers a variety of local beers, including their popular "Dirty Hippie" dark wheat beer. Peach Street Distillers serves up a variety of craft spirits, including gin, bourbon and brandy. For something a little different, try the Meadery of the Rockies, which produces honey-based wines across the spectrum of sweet to dry.
A couple of great little art galleries offer another reason to linger downtown. Check out the Blue Pig for affordable local art and the Twisted Brick Studios, which has artists working on site.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of ways to stay active. Mount Garfield offers several trails where the reward for a steep hike is unparalleled views of the valley below. You might even be able to spot wild horses roaming around. For some fresh air at an easier pace, Palisade intersects with the Colorado Riverfront Trail, which offers easy options for a hike or bike ride.
No matter why you visit, or what time of year, you’ll find Palisade to be a peach of a town.