The Colorado Mountain Winefest prepares for another big weekend
A menagerie of festivals abound in Colorado, but only one carries the distinction of being voted the nation’s best of its kind. The Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade received that distinction recently from USA Today’s 10 Best website.
Best of the Best
“The Grand Valley is home to more than 20 wineries and vineyards that serve up some of Colorado’s best wines and we are looking forward to showcasing them all to an even bigger crowd this September thanks to this vote,” said Debbie Kovalik, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau in a release.
The Colorado Mountain Winefest, held in the town of Palisade just east of Grand Junction started 26 years ago. According to the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, it draws about 7,000 attendees each year and features over 55 wineries. The event runs from September 14-17 and Grand Junction as well as surrounding areas are getting ready.
Great time to head West
“It’s a big event,” said Mistalynn Meyerann, Marketing and Public Relations Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau. “We all get very excited for it, because it brings with it this energy that is amazing. The weather is fantastic, it’s harvest season for the grapes and a lot of other agricultural products. It’s a great time to be here.”
With an estimated economic impact of about $1 million over the four days of Colorado Mountain Winefest to Grand Junction, the city does its best to showcase its strengths as well.
“Wine is one of many things that draws people to the Grand Valley,” Meyerann said. “Even though the festival is in Palisade, [Grand Junction] is the main hub for lodging and restaurants and our downtown is amazing. It’s been a staple of ours and the popularity is growing.”
That popularity has been growing for years, according to Cassiddee Shull, Executive Director of the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE)
“It started in 1992 with five wineries pouring wine and less than 500 attendees and now it has grown into the largest winefest in the state of Colorado with over 6,500 attendees and 55 wineries,” Shull said. “It’s turned into a nationally recognized festival.”
Festival in the Park
Outside of pleasant weather and delicious Colorado wines, the Colorado Mountain Winefest also offers an array of scenery and other delights. The main attraction, however, remains the Festival in the Park.
“Our beautiful Festival in the Park takes place at Riverbend Park, which has grown into the largest park in Palisade and really the Grand Valley,” Shull said. “We have everything from wine country bus tours to chocolate and wine tastings. We have educational seminars and this year we are featuring an intro to winemaking. It’s really a great way to put the spotlight on our unique growing area for Colorado wines and to celebrate Colorado wines.”
This year the Festival in the Park portion of the winefest will take place on Saturday, September 16 and will delight visitors with over 55 Colorado wineries, live music, a grape stomp and live demonstrations.
Other events featured over the four-day weekend include food and wine pairings at participating Grand Junction restaurants, a wine, dine and paint session with commemorative Winefest poster artist Vinje Lawson and a variety of bus and bike tours through Colorado wine country.
As word continues to spread regarding the now, No. 1 Winefest in the nation, Shull said she expects visitors to come from all over the map.
“From the numbers from last year we had attendees from 38 states and three different countries,” Shull said. “The year before that we had attendees from 35 states and five countries. Overall, 72 percent of the attendees for Winefest came from outside of the Grand Valley, which is amazing to think about.”
Tickets for the four-day event are still available but the event will sell out. For information on lodging, tickets and the other events surrounding the Colorado Mountain Winefest visit www.coloradowinefest.com.