Palisade a top travel spot

Parker Carlson pours wine for his staff at Carlson Vineyards on Orchard Mesa. His winery is cited as a “Don’t Miss” experience for tourists visiting Palisade by a top travel recommendation website called TripAdvisor.

A chocolate rimmed glass of Cherry wine.

Positive word of mouth is a tourist destination’s best friend, and Palisade today is reaping the rewards of some great publicity online.

Top travel recommendation website TripAdvisor — where users rate their travel experiences at hotels, restaurants and other travel activities in cities around the world — recently announced a comprehensive list of the best U.S. wine tourism destinations, and Palisade cracked the top 10.

That has tourism officials and the local wine community swirling with pride — and anticipation.

“It says a lot about Palisade, what great character that community has, to be rated in the top 10 — snuggled up alongside Sonoma and Napa (in California),” said Debbie Kovalik, executive director of the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, a group that has been instrumental in marketing the wider Grand Valley area as a wine country destination.

“It is indeed a benchmark that is really exciting for our whole entire valley,” she said.

Palisade earned the number nine spot in the list of top U.S. wine destinations, part of a program TripAdvisor calls the Travelers’ Choice awards.

Predictably, California dominated the rankings, with five of the 10 top spots for domestic wine travelers. Rounding out the list were cities in Washington, Oregon and New York.

“To get that kind of award, and that recognition, for little Palisade, to be up there with the big guys, that’s huge. We feel like we’ve arrived,” said Juliann Adams, the new executive director of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce.

Adams spent more than four years at the Wine Country Inn, a Palisade hotel that counts 178 TripAdvisor reviews, 123 of which rate the hotel as “excellent.”

“Everybody is just being very selective as to where they spend their dollars these days,” she said.

“TripAdvisor is definitely one of those sites that people look to for some kind of reference, just to see if a selection they’ve made is worth doing.”

The fact that Palisade was the only non-coastal city on the list, and the only destination in the region to make the rankings, was not lost on Adams.

“People will make that decision to have a really great wine experience here in Colorado — they won’t have to travel all the way to the West Coast, like they thought before,” she said.

For people on the Front Range and in nearby states, “We are your best wine experience, right next door,” Adams said.

TripAdvisor said this is the first year the website has put out the comprehensive Travelers’ Choice awards for U.S. wine destinations.

Winning destinations were determined using an algorithm that took into account traveler reviews and opinions on local wineries, restaurants, attractions and accommodations.

Some of the “Don’t Miss” Palisade wineries listed are the Meadery of the Rockies, Plum Creek Winery and Hermosa Vineyards.

Longtime local winemaker Carlson Vineyards also is highly cited on TripAdvisor.

“I’d heard of (TripAdvisor), but it wasn’t anything that I’d tracked before,” said Parker Carlson, owner of the winery ranked number two on Trip-
Advisor’s list of “Things to Do” in Palisade.

He said Internet referrals account for maybe “10 percent” of his business these days, but he has hope that the publicity from the TripAdvisor rankings will grow that side of his business.

“Usually when we get mentioned in articles or on the Internet in a positive fashion like that, you see quite a bit of action from it,” Carlson said.


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