Wineries hope Winefest success can make up for slower summer

Local wineries are hoping to sell big at the 18th Annual Colorado Mountain Winefest.

While some Western Slope wineries noticed tourists trickling into their tasting rooms in smaller numbers this summer, ticket sales for Winefest indicate the wine will flow as heavily as last year at booths representing 53 Colorado wineries. Thirty-four of those wineries hail from the Western Slope.

Tickets for the Sept. 17-20 event at Riverbend Park in Palisade range from $40 for those planning to drink wine and $20 for those who won’t partake to $175 for VIP access to a tented area filled with food and drinks.

“In general-admission tickets, we’re up,” Winefest Director Sarah Catlin said.

The number of wineries is up by 10, and the festival will include more food vendors and seminars than last year, Catlin said.

While she worries that adding wineries may spread out sales a bit, Cottonwood Cellars/The Olathe Winery co-owner Diana Read said she’s happy to know ticket sales are steady this year. The Olathe winery makes about 2 to 3 percent of its annual profit from sales at Winefest, Read said.

“It’s good promotion because we do distribute our wine, and we want to be visible,” she said.

“The economy will probably effect the sales,” Read added. “We’ll probably get more sales in the lower price range. We’ve seen that just as a general rule.”

Overall sales are down as a general rule, according to Palisade’s De Beque Canyon Winery co-owner Davy Price. She said Labor Day weekend was the most profitable weekend the winery has seen this summer, but the winery is “feeling the pinch” of the economic downturn.

“It’s been a rather slow season this year. They’re buying some wine, but not in the quantity in the past,” Price said. “It’s been an interesting summer, not one I want to repeat.”

Kris Vogel, co-owner of Reeder Mesa Vineyards in Whitewater said tourism at her winery picked up in August, but summer visitor numbers were low at first this summer. Vogel said she hopes the increased visitor trend will remain for the winery’s eighth year at Winefest.

“It’s always a very big day. We’re kind of holding our breath,” she said.


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