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The Winery: DeBeque Canyon Winery
The People: This Palisade winery is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Bennett and Davy Price, both of whom grew up in Texas. Although Bennett was raised on a farm, he worked for years as a geologist in the oil and gas industry before developing an interest in viticulture. In the early 1980s, after the oil industry crashed in western Colorado, the couple bought several prime acres near Palisade and started planting grapes.
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The Space: Housed in a warehouse, the winery is neatly divided into separate tasting and work areas by a long counter supported on oak barrels, behind which Davy offers a welcoming smile to visitors. There is also a small seating area decorated with locally made artwork and gifts for sale.
The Grapes: Winemaker Bennett is a pioneering viticulturist who has introduced several wine grapes to Colorado, including some Portuguese and Spanish varietals. He began his career in the wine industry by helping to plant many of the West Slope vineyards before shifting to winemaking in the mid-1980s. Whenever possible, the Prices purchase grapes grown on Grand Mesa or in the Grand Valley.
The Wine: DeBeque Canyon Winery is best known for its red wines, especially the best-selling Cabernet Franc, for which Bennett has won a number of awards at national and international competitions. The wine has a fruity nose and a lingering, spicy finish that pairs well with tomato-based Italian dishes, pine nuts, and lamb. I also really enjoyed the Rhône-style Syrah, whose high (15.9 percent) alcohol content is not evident thanks to the wonderful cherry aroma and lingering, peppery finish.
Buzzed Trivia: The winery is named for DeBeque Canyon, the beautiful sandstone gorge through which the Colorado River flows into the Grand Valley just east of Palisade.
Taste it: The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May through September and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday the rest of the year. The first four tastes are free, except for the fortified dessert wines, which cost $2 each. If you enjoy white wine, be sure to try the Chardonnay, a smooth, light wine with a subtle pear taste that was briefly aged in older French oak.
Take Home: In addition to your favorite varietals, you may want to bring home a bottle of Bennett’s delicious fortified wine. The Trefoil is an intensely flavored blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot with a nuanced coffee flavor enhanced by extended barrel aging. The lingering finish and velvety smoothness are ideal when served alongside a rich, chocolatey brownie.
Visit: DeBeque Canyon Winery is located at 351 W. 8th St., Palisade; 970-464-0550