The winemaking industry made its debut in the Grand Valley in 1890, with settlers who developed the area’s fruit orchards also planting grapes for wine and table. The U.S. Department of Commerce reported wine production of 1,744 gallons in 1899.
Among the earliest vineyards was one on Rapid Creek above Palisade that was planted by George Crawford, who founded Grand Junction and later served as Colorado governor.
The area’s vineyards, however, were razed during Prohibition and replaced with fruit trees, primarily peach trees. The wine industry did not reappear until the 1970s, when, ironically, farmers began replacing peach trees with grape plants in parts of Palisade.
Today, there are more than 20 wineries in the stretch running from Palisade to Whitewater across the Grand Valley’s eastern edge, and the region has been designated an American Viticultural Area. The wineries typically are small, family-owned operations.
Merlot is the most widely planted varietal, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, according to the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. Riesling, however, has been the most widely planted varietal for the past four years, surpassing Chardonnay among the whites.
The wine industry holds the Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade each September, with dozens of wineries and thousands of participants.
Colorado Wine Industry Development Board
2645 5th Street
Boulder, CO 80304
Colorado Mountain Winefest
P. O. Box 1556
Palisade, CO 81526