Winefest cup runneth over for economy
Like fine wine, the aging process of this year’s 22nd-annual Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade promises to stimulate the palate of the local economy.
In the most conservative of estimates, the four-day event that attracts up to 7,000 people with all things wine-related including seminars, special restaurant offerings, recreational events and Saturday’s daylong wine tastings and vendors at Riverbend Park will generate at least $1 million in spending across the Grand Valley, said Barbara Bowman, the director of sales and division manager for Grand Junction’s Visitor Center & Convention Bureau.
“When you’ve looked at our marketing plan, the Winefest is the perfect demographic for us,” Bowman said.
Hands-down, Winefest produces the most local return on the dollar, she said, adding that accommodations around the Grand Valley were nearly filled to capacity a week ago.
Already, 3,500 people have purchased tickets for the festival, about a 40 percent increase over last year’s sale of pre-sold tickets, according to Cassidee Shull, executive director of the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology, or CAVE.
About 1,000 of those pre-sold tickets were purchased by wine enthusiasts on the Front Range. At least an additional 1,000 people are estimated to purchase event tickets at the festival grounds.
“We have such unique views and trails, it’s fun to combine biking and wine in one weekend,” Shull said.
Capacity for Saturday’s wine tasting in Riverbend Park is 5,500 people, but up to 7,000 people may attend any number of planned events over the long weekend.
FLOOD FORCES CHANGES
Some potential Front Range visitors who had signed up to volunteer reported they won’t be able to make the journey after widespread flooding has hampered daily life there.
Some other Denver-area guests cancelled reservations at local hotels, but those rooms have since been re-sold, several hotels reported.
Shull said while tickets are not refundable, they are transferable.
However, if the home of a Front Range visitor had flooded, Shull said, CAVE would gladly refund the ticket costs.
Barbara Moore of Loveland for months had been looking forward to attending Winefest, and had reserved tickets to travel over the Rockies via Amtrak. After massive flooding temporarily canceled the train service to Grand Junction, Moore initially was rebuffed a refund for her Winefest ticket.
Her ticket later on Wednesday was refunded, and Moore reported that she hopes to attend Winefest next year.
She first heard of the wine festival in a local style magazine, she said, and started to build a Grand Valley vacation, during which she estimated spending $400 to $500 on lodging, $400 on train tickets and probably hundreds more on wine, food and other amenities.
“We thought it would be so much fun to get on the train and go through the mountains,” she said.
“It’s sad that we’re not going to be able to do this,” she said.