Cabernet or Chardonnay? Riesling or Merlot? These might be choices at your local wine shop or restaurant, but they’re also what a landowner can grow in one’s own front yard at Palisade, Colorado’s Orchard Mesa Reserve, one of the first-of-its-kind orchard/vineyard conservation developments in the West. Plant the varietal of your choice, or even peach, apple, or apricot trees – they’ll all flourish – in this fertile, picturesque, and largely unsung portion of far western Colorado, where the high alpine Rockies landscape transitions into mild and colorful canyon country and liquid gold from the Colorado River makes the desert bloom, transforming the valley floor into the region’s foremost fruit and wine country.
Wine varietals are also among the burgeoning local industry of agricultural products on display at Palisade’s upcoming Colorado Mountain Winefest on Sept. 20, 2008, where one can not only drink the local vino and eat local foods, but also attend a Colorado State University Extension Service seminar to learn about growing grapes, producing wine, and even what varietal might work best in your Palisade yard.
Award-winning wineries, mountain bike races, luscious peaches, hip new restaurants, a brewery, distillery, farmers’ market, and a big, new hotel, they’re all here in Palisade, in the shadow of the 11,000-foot Grand Mesa where the Colorado emerges from Debeque Canyon. Described by some locals as “like Napa or Sonoma thirty years ago,” the Palisade area is brimming with exciting new activity and the opportunity to get in on the “ground floor.” While folks move here and to nearby booming Grand Junction from all over the country, interestingly, the area is a place that many ski town “refugees” from Aspen, Telluride, Vail, and Summit County now call home. Tired of long, cold winters at 9,000 feet, knees shot from decades of bump skiing, and having cashed out on their mountain homes, many of these folks are still active but slowing down enough to look for that idyllic, pastoral, small-town life they first came West for so many years ago.
Overlooking Palisade and sitting on some of the most productive ground in the region is such a place. Orchard Mesa Reserve is where old-timers speak in hushed tones about the prodigious amounts of fruit per acre the former Jones Orchard used to produce on this same ground years ago, allegedly the most in the area (it still can today, too!); and where one can build a dream home, get some dirt under your fingernails growing some fruit, and enjoy a throwback lifestyle. It’s the sort of life where you can show your kids where real food comes from by showing them the peach trees in your front yard, watch a heron fly across the Colorado River just below you as the sun sets, or visit your neighbor’s local food stands to gather assorted delicacies for your own family dinner table that evening.
Come learn about this emerging area with a visit to the Mountain Winefest Sept 20, partake in the local award-winning wines, nibble on some Palisade-produced snacks, and explore the agrarian, Tuscany-like lifestyle on display here in the Grand Valley at Orchard Mesa Reserve.
Check out the following websites for more information:
- CSU Extension and the Colorado Wine Industry
- Carlson Winery, a popular, award-winning local winery that is adjacent to Orchard Mesa Reserve.
- Talbott Farms, the long-time, multi-generational local fruit grower that assists landowners at Orchard Mesa Reserve with viticultural/horticultural management.
- Mesa Land Trust, the nation’s oldest agricultural land trust, the non-profit that manages the Orchard Mesa Reserve conservation easement.
(Top of article): As will be featured in the October 15th Wine Spectator, Orchard Mesa Reserve, an orchard for sale in Palisade, Colorado.
(Bottom): Colorado Winefest-goer enjoys a good Palisade grape-stomp.