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Yes, you can get Colorado-grown fruit at Safeway, but there’s nothing nostalgic about the produce section of the grocery store. Instead, we suggest taking your reusable bags on a summertime road trip to the state’s fruit basket: Palisade. A 3.5-hour drive from Denver, the town of roughly 2,500 boasts dozens of fruit-growing farms and orchards that are most famous for their peaches and wine grapes but also cultivate cherries, apples, apricots, plums, and berries.
You can find this cornucopia of deliciousness at Palisade peach stands, some of which are located right off I-70 and others of which are scattered along the Fruit and Wine Byway, a 25-mile circuit through the bounty where you’ll also see signs for u-pick fruit operations and farmhouses offering fresh eggs. If you have time, cruise the entire byway and stop at any country roadside shack you come upon, but if you can only squeeze in one or two, we spent a day doing the shopping so you know exactly where to find the most idyllic experience.
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Background: In 1907, Joseph Evan Yeager planted some of the early orchards in the Palisade area. More than 115 years and six generations later, the same family is harvesting peaches and wine grapes along what is now the Fruit and Wine Byway.
The harvest: As Colorado’s largest peach grower, Talbott Farms grows more than 30 varieties of the stone fruit, but it also cultivates apples and pears, among other crops.
Go shopping: Talbott’s Farm Market has the vibe—and produce and jarred products—you want in a Palisade peach stand, but it also has a covered patio where you can sip on the operation’s apple juices, apple ciders, craft hard ciders, and wines. Bonus: The views of the valley are unmatched.
Quick tip: The Peachy Keen wine spritzer is made with, you guessed it, 100 percent Palisade-grown peaches. Grab a four pack for summertime porch pounding.
Background: For more than 20 years, Renee and Bruce Herman have been delighting locals and visitors alike with their adorable open-air fruit stand, just-picked produce, and Mema’s products—their own brand of jarred, well, everything.
The harvest: You’ll find everything from peaches to plums to cherries to apricots, plus veggies such as squash, sugar peas, English peas, and tomatoes.
Go shopping: You can’t miss Herman’s pink building as you exit I-70 and head toward downtown Palisade. And you wouldn’t want to. You’ll drive past other stands on your way to Herman Produce…and that’s just fine.
Quick tip: Pick up a few jars of Mema’s Peach Salsa for holiday gifts.
Background: Six generations (and counting) of Clarks have worked the orchards—roughly 100 acres of owned and leased land today—in Palisade, along the Colorado River.
The harvest: In addition to 10 varieties of peaches, the Clark family grows cherries, pears, plums, apricots, and vegetables.
Go shopping: The Clarks’ orchard-adjacent produce stand is located only about one mile off I-70 on U.S. 6 to the east of downtown Palisade. You’ll find all the requisite fruits, veggies, jams, and jellies—not to mention honey from the orchards’ hives—but you can also hop on one of the carriage rides through the peach trees.
Quick tip: Dennis Clark once told us that growers categorize their fruits as number one or number two. Number ones are specimens with good coloring and no blemishes; number twos are essentially the scratch-and-dent versions, but they are often sold at lower prices and taste just as delicious. If you don’t see any number twos on the shelves, just ask.
Background: Four generations of McLeans have run this farm that’s currently comprised of roughly 11,000 trees on eight parcels of land.
The harvest: McLean Farms’ tagline is “The Palace of Fruit and Good Earth Vegetables,” and the beautiful peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines, tomatoes, squash, onions, and beans in the bins only prove the point.
Go shopping: The on-site store, built in 2003, isn’t quite as charming as some others in the area—until you meet Lila McLean, the 86-year-old matriarch of the family who still mans the cash register. She says she’s been “on the farm since the beginning of time” and will make sure you understand the difference between pie cherries and the typical varieties.
Quick tip: Do not leave the shop without getting a soft-serve cone of McLean’s peach ice cream. Seriously. Just don’t.
Background: Opened in 2011, Anita’s Pantry and Produce is owned and operated by Anita Hix, her three children, and her granddaughter.
The harvest: Anita’s doesn’t only carry the fruit it grows in its own orchards. Instead, Hix works with other growers in the area to fill her shop with whatever is currently ripe. You’ll find peaches, cherries, melons, squash, pears, and more.
Go shopping: Located atop East Orchard Mesa betwixt rows of grape vines and peach orchards, this colorful stand has three roll-up garage doors that give ample entrée into the bins and shelves full of fresh produce and Anita’s healthy roster of jarred goods. It’s a 10-minute drive off I-70, but the setting is bucolic, and the views are as sweet as the local fruit.
Quick tip: Anita’s Queso Blanco and Five Amigos Fire Roasted Pepper Salsa are perennial bestsellers.