You may not think the Western Slope is especially synonymous with wine country, but it is gradually becoming recognized as the next Napa Valley. As Colorado has over 125 wineries that are thriving in our 300-plus days of sunshine, the unique high-altitude climate produces award-winning wines. With nearly 1,000 acres of vineyards in the dry, high desert, you’ll be sure to find a wine that will satisfy your palette.
Going on Google reviews alone, the Varaison Vineyard in Palisade is a highly frequented winery that began in 1904 with a Victorian-style home that is still in use today. They offer private holiday events, wine and dinner events, bike tour experiences, and fire pit Friday at this historic location. Their process uses a variety of different aging methods from un-oaked wine in stainless steel tanks to short-term or extended barrel aging in French or American oaks. Using equally creative flavor combinations such as honeysuckle, lemon flower, and pear blossom, among many others, this family produces old-world-style wines that offer rich, distinctive flavors you won’t want to miss.
A little further south is the Orchard Valley Farms, which is home to the Black Bridge Winery in Paonia. A younger organization that planted their first grapes in 1997 at an altitude of 5,800’, what makes this facility unique is the 85’ wine cave that was repurposed from an old mining operation. This piece of history creates a natural climate for their 16-month aging process in oak barrels. The Farm doesn’t just stick to wines, however. They produce a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and berries that are often available for public picking. In late September, the Mountain Harvest Festival weekend brings even more visitors to their pumpkin patch for a fun, family experience.
Even closer to Montrose is the Mountain View Winery, which is run by a third-generation family in Olathe, Colorado. This organic vineyard is open year-round and offers personally hand-bottled wines, often named after local historical figures in the region. Their small selection of red and white wines can even come with custom labels for realtors, banks, restaurants, or personal occasions. Although this small-town vineyard may not be one to center your vacation around, it is worth a stop if you enjoy wine-tasting tours on the Western Slope.
Coming up the first week of September is the 17th Annual Montrose Wine and Food Festival at the Montrose County Fairgrounds that will showcase local wines that you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $65 each for those over 21, and the event will also feature local cuisine to pair with your favorite wine. That event will be followed by the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest the third week of September in Palisade, which offers activities for the entire family.
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