It has been a long wait, but the warm, sunny days and cool nights of Colorado’s high elevation mesas and river valleys have finally ripened the grapes for harvest. The 22nd Annual Mountain Wine Fest  will take place at Riverbend Park in Palisade from September 19 to 22. Nearly every winery in Colorado will be there pouring samples alongside food vendors, arts and crafts, and live music.
This year’s schedule of events incudes a decadent lineup of food pairings and winemaker dinners. If you have to choose just one, don’t miss BookCliff Vineyards’  dinner on September 20. Boulder’s Erik Skokan of Black Cat Farm Bistro  will travel to the Grand Valley to prepare what’s sure to be a standout meal, matched with BookCliff Vineyards wine. Cost is $95 and includes five courses, wine, and a to-die-for view that extends from De Beque Canyon all the way down the valley (register here ).
Mountain Wine Fest will also feature active pursuits like float trips and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) classes on the Colorado River, and the 20th Annual Bicycle Tour de Vineyards . The bike course follows the new 25-mile Fruit and Wine Byway, a system of paved backcountry roads that pass through more than 60 vineyards, wineries, orchards, fruit stands, and farms. Visitors can also ride the well-marked route at their leisure, courtesy of a detailed map.
We headed to the Grand Valley to pre-ride the route and do a little reconnaissance on this notable region in Colorado, where more than 80 percent of the state’s grapes are produced. Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the three-part series. We’ll cover where to stay and what not to miss on the Fruit and Wine Byway. Think of it as your primer for the Mountain Wine Fest.
(Read part 2 here .)
—Jayme Moye writes about all things adventure. Follow her on Twitter (@JaymeMoye).