PALISADE: Bask in the Glow of Orchards, Vineyards and Art
The road to renown began with some fuzz. Well, fuzz and sunshine. And a seemingly perfect confluence of location, weather and water — a rather pedestrian way of saying that from the simple, rosy fuzz of peaches has grown world renown for wine, lavender and an easy-going pace that makes Palisade a highlight of any Colorado vacation.
Named for the dramatic Mancos shale palisades that line the north side of town and the longtime home of Ute tribes, the Palisade area began seeing white settlers in 1881. By 1894, they’d begun planting peach, pear, apple and cherry orchards in the area known as Vineland.
Farmers benefitted from a 1913 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation irrigation project, during which a 480-foot-wide roller dam was installed on the Colorado River just upstream from Palisade. With vastly increased access to water in what naturally is an arid spot, Palisade agriculture leaped forward in prominence.
Soon, orchards and vineyards made room for fields of lavender, restaurants and galleries, wineries, distilleries, festivals and markets. Now, Palisade is not only known for its agricultural abundance, but for the fruits of that abundance.
“When people think about Palisade, they think about peaches and wine and lavender,” said Juliann Adams, executive director of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce. “But I think now we’re just as known for our festivals, the bluegrass festival, the lavender festival, peach fest, wine fest.”
Thanks to the Fruit and Wine Byway, Adams said, visitors have greater access to all the good things that grow and are made in Palisade.
“A lot of people like just getting out and biking through the area, maybe stopping and making it a wine tour in combination with different orchards,” she said. “Most of our area is flat and not very intense so you can really enjoy yourself, stop in at an alpaca farm, a lavender farm, a winery, an orchard. We’ve got such diverse agriculture. And at the end of the day, you can relax at the distillery and brewery.”
So it maybe began with the rosy fuzz of a peach, but it continues today with the rosy glow of a sunset at the end of a rich day of wine and lavender, vistas and views (and of course a peach or two).
P A L I S A D E M U S T - D O S
Delicious Sundays: The Palisade Sunday Market is held every Sunday morning from June 15 to Sept. 21.
Featuring local fruits and vegetables, delectables made with them and the work of area artists and crafts people, the downtown Palisade market is a must-do on any tour of Palisade.
Drink up: Palisade’s reputation as a national and international center for exceptional wine grows and grows.
Home to more than 14 wineries, no visit to Palisade is complete without a day on the Fruit and Wine Byway, perhaps starting at the far eastern end of the Grand Valley with Canyon Wind Cellars and circling through Palisade to end the day at Talon Winery & St.
To download a Fruit & Wine Byway map and for information on creating a Palisade wine tour, go to palisadetourism.com. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of “Drink it In: Wine Guide of Western Colorado,” at gjsentinel.com/store/product/ drink_it_in.
The Colorado River between Palisade and Clifton is one of its scenic stretches through the Grand Valley. Palisade River Trips (palisaderivertrips.com) offers guided group and personal tours and equipment rentals.
A guided trip for at least two people, offered between April and October, is $50 per person and includes snacks and water. Those with experience can rent paddle rafts, two-person canoes and one- and two-person kayaks for prices that range from $40 to $75 per day.
For information or to reserve equipment or a tour, call 970-260-5848 or visit the website.
Get artistic: Palisade is home to a thriving arts scene, with galleries that highlight a variety of media. From pottery to watercolor, photography, sculpture or collage, visitors to Palisade can happily delve into vivid worlds of art. Try:
•Blue Pig Gallery, 119 W. Third St. — Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, the gallery frequently is home to shows and events featuring area artists. (970-464-4819, thebluepiggallery.com)
•Wedel Pottery, 3815 North River Road. — Open most days 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., by chance or appointment, the gallery features work by clay artist Tim Wedel created in his Palisade Clay Studio. (970-464-7795, palisadepottery.com)
•Parker Pottery, 3535 G Road — Located on Palisade’s Fruit and Wine Byway, Parker Pottery features the work of artist Sue Parker. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment. (970-464-1252, parkerpottery.com) Enjoy a libation: In addition to its wineries, Palisade is home to a distillery and brewery where locals and visitors alike enjoy relaxing after a hard day of recreation.
•Palisade Brewing Co., 200 Peach Ave., offers a variety of beers, including the famous Dirty Hippie, as well as pub fare for dining. (970-464-1462, palisadebrewingcompany.com)
•Peach Street Distillers, 144 Kluge Ave. No. 2, makes a variety of spirits, including peach and pear brandy, Jackelope Gin and Goat Artisan Vodka. (970-464-1128, peachstreetdistillers.com)
On two wheels: One of the most scenic ways to enjoy the east end of the Grand Valley is on a bicycle. Rapid Creek Cycles, 237 S. Main Street, rents cruisers, road and mountain bikes as well askidtrailers. Cruisersare$36.15perday,roadbikes$45per day and mountain bikes range between $45 and $75 per day.
Kid trailers are $25 per day. To rent a bike and get information about good routes for a leisurely ride, call Rapid Creek Cycles at 970-464-9266 or go to rapidcreekcycles.com.
3 Growing things: If there’s one thing for which Palisade is known, it’s agricultural bounty.
Starting with its world-famous peaches, visitors also can enjoy lavender, honey, alpacas and a host of fruits and vegetables.
One of the most delicious ways to enjoy Palisade is on a tour of orchards, farms and fruit and vegetable stands. Go to palisadecoc. com/co/fruit-stands-orchards for a list of possibilities and palisadetourism.com for a map.
Palisade hosts an array of festivals during the summer and fall highlighting many of the elements that make Palisade the unforgettable place it is. Beginning with the Palisade International Honeybee Festival in April, others include:
•Bluegrass and Roots Festival, held in June at Riverbend Park.(palisademusic.com)
•Lavender Festival, held in July at Palisade Memorial Park. (coloradolavender.org)
•Peach Festival, held in August at Riverbend Park. (palisadepeachfest.com) Go to townofpalisade.org or palisadecoc.com for more festival information.