Colorado wine is growing up. “The state of the industry right now is kind of one of transition/maturation,” says Kyle Schlachter, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. “We’ve had some wineries that have sold or gone out of business in the last couple of years, but we’ve also had a handful that are really growing by leaps and bounds.”

With more than 170 licensed wineries in Colorado, around 30 of which are in or near Palisade, there are now more winemakers here than ever, producing everything from straight-forward reds and whites to ambitious skin-contact sparklings and funky, naturally fermented wines. And unlike beer or spirits, according to Schlachter, a majority of Colorado wine is made with local grapes grown in the Grand Valley and West Elks American Viticultural Areas, where pockets of fertile land experience just-right climate conditions for the fruit to thrive.

But in Colorado, preexisting volatility compounded with climate change has impacted farmers. In late 2020 and early 2021, a number of unexpected frosts decimated most of the state’s Vitis vinifera grapevines (which includes most well-known varietals like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling). While growers have bounced back, partly by investing in cold-hardy hybrid varieties—Schlachter estimates that hybrids have climbed from five to 25 percent of the state’s total grape production in the past five years—that doesn’t mean there aren’t new challenges the industry faces.

“One of the new challenges is the overall decline in wine consumption,” Schlachter says, “in either drinking less [wine] or choosing not to drink at all.” In fact, since a pandemic-driven peak in 2020, wine consumption has been falling nationally. Schlachter believes that’s partially due to increased competition from ready-to-drink cocktails, hard seltzers, and marijuana, but furthermore, Americans, specifically young adults who are already less likely to choose wine, are increasingly trying to drink less.

But these Palisade wineries are continuing to prove that, should you choose to drink, sourcing your glass locally is worth the effort. Here, some of our favorite Palisade wineries and recommendations for what to sip at each.

Restoration Vineyards

A stage with a vintage Mercedes Benz next to it, back by vineyards and cliffs.
Restoration Vineyards. Photo by Ethan Pan

Stepping foot onto Restoration’s perfectly manicured lawn, you wouldn’t think that the neat rows of robust vines sprawling before you were once withering under neglect. That’s a testament to husband-and-wife duo Gary and Linda Brauns’ commitment to the principle after which they named their winery, which has been pouring crisp whites and robust reds since 2018. Look out for Restoration’s Band in the Barrel event series, when musicians take to the on-site stage flanked by vintage Mercedes-Benzes (which Gary has been restoring long before vineyards) to pair your sips with melodious tunes.
What to Drink: The 2018 Estate Reserve Barbera, which balances its oaky and dried fruit notes with a decent pop of acid. If you can get your hands on any limited-production Pinotage, go for that, too. 3594 E. 1/2 Road, Palisade

Peachfork Orchards & Vineyard

Peachfork co-owner Philip Patton standing in front of a wine bar.
Philip Patton inside Peachfork’s tasting room. Photo by John Fielder

If you ask Philip Patton why he and his wife, Susan, started making wine, he gives a simple reason: Because they had grapes. Although Peachfork is a smaller winery and has only operated for eight years, the Pattons have been cultivating grapes, peaches, and other fruit on this property for over three decades. That we’re-farmers-first approach is wonderfully evident, from the homey, down-to-earth digs of Peachfork’s tasting room to the diverse menu of whites, reds, and fruit wines made with estate-grown produce. Pro tip: Ask if you can try the peach juice as a mimosa. You won’t regret it.
What to Drink: The fresh and floral Peach wine and the 2023 Colorado Governor’s Cup Double Gold–winning Pear Apple are effortless sips, but don’t miss out on the 2022 Chambourcin. 281 33 Road, Palisade

Bookcliff Vineyards

Bookcliff’s Palisade tasting room. Photo courtesy of Bookcliff Vineyards

While Bookcliff Vineyards actually produces its wine behind its diminutive tasting room in north Boulder, the Palisade location is the place to be if you want to drink among the grapes with picture-perfect views of, unsurprisingly, the Book Cliffs. Head winemaker Will Thompson spent years honing his craft in Walla Walla, Washington, and brought his talents to Colorado in 2020, and the result is Bookcliff’s delicious lineup of largely single-varietal whites and reds, which consistently earn spots in the Colorado Governor’s Cup Collection, an annual 12-bottle series of some of Colorado’s best wines.
What to Drink: The 2022 Syrah, a whole-cluster (i.e., fermented with the stems) red with notes of plum and vanilla, or the eminently drinkable 2023 Rosé made with 50-50 Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. 670 39 Road, Palisade

Sauvage Spectrum Estate Winery & Vineyard

A wooden sign saying Sauvage Spectrum in front of vineyards.
Sauvage Spectrum vineyards. Photo by Ethan Pan

In 2019, veteran Western Slope farmer Kaibab Sauvage teamed up with winemaker Patric Matysiewski to launch Sauvage Spectrum. The estate winery only makes bottles with grapes harvested on-site and focuses on lesser-known, experimental varieties, resulting in day-drinking-friendly pétillant naturels (or pét-nats, natural sparkling wines) and robust white and red blends. Sauvage also operates a second tasting room in Ouray and often plays around with different drinking formats, like a $50 mimosa cocktail bomb flight new to this year, to keep things fresh.
What to Drink: The 2020 Domaine Red Blend, which offers a nice balance between fresher berry notes and deeper oaky flavors, or the not-too-funky Pet-Nat Skins, which could convert any orange wine naysayer. 676 38 ¼ Road, Palisade

The Ordinary Fellow

The Ordinary Fellow winery. Photo by Ethan Pan

The Ordinary Fellow—a winery from Ben Parsons, the original founder of RiNo’s Infinite Monkey Theorem—invites patrons to lounge in industrial-chic digs that used to house a peach-packing plant. Nowadays, the venue pours sips infused with grapes from Parsons’ vineyards in Cortez and Dolores, Colorado, and Utah. If you’re feeling peckish, a food truck usually parks on site on the weekends, although if you’re visiting Thursday or Saturday, it’s worth walking down the street to Pali Thai, a food trailer run by Mike Johnson and Chiranut Srimahaprom that serves excellent Southeast Asian fare.
What to Drink: The 2022 Riesling, a gently acidic wine with notes of apple, lemon, and anise, or the 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon, a red with undertones of black currants, blackberries, and green pepper. 202 Peach Ave., Palisade

Carlson Vineyards

Carlson Vineyards’ backyard. Photo courtesy of Carlson Vineyards

Parker and Mary Carlson planted their first vines on East Orchard Mesa in 1981 and started Carlson Vineyards seven years later in a 1930s-era fruit-packing shed. Now Garrett Portra—a Missouri transplant who purchased the winery in 2015—is continuing the Carlsons’ legacy by churning out a vast roster of wines, from sweeter, stone-fruit-enriched varieties to approachable red, white, and rosé blends. Order a flight to enjoy on the tasting room’s vineyard-adjacent back patio, or if it’s just closed, hop over to a second tasting room that closes two hours later in downtown Grand Junction.
What to Drink: The Riesling-and-cherry Tree Ripe Blush is an approachable, not-too-sweet fruit wine for those that prefer drier varieties. The 2022 365 Rosé is also a crowd-pleaser. 461 35 Road, Palisade


Since Colterris owners Scott and Theresa High released the vineyard and winery’s first vintage in 2008, they’ve earned many prestigious wine awards (including two double gold medals at the 2023 San Francisco International Wine Competition) and the approval of locals and tourists for its panoramic views of the Roan Plateau. Last year, Colterris purchased Plum Creek Cellars, which was the oldest continuously operating winery in Colorado at the time, and refurbished it into the new Collections tasting room where you can taste lingering Plum Creek bottles, as well as Colterris’ new Plum Creek Heritage line available at all three locations.
What to Drink: The strawberry-scented 2022 Coral White Cabernet Sauvignon rosé or the double-gold-winning 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, which aged for 23 months in 20 percent new French oak. 3907 North River Road, Palisade; tasting rooms at 3548 E. 1/2 Road and 3708 G Road

Carboy Winery

The view from the patio at Carboy Winery in Palisade. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

If you love Carboy Winery, you’re not alone. Last year, its Palisade estate vineyard was named the sixth ‘Best Wine Tasting Room’ in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. The Carboy team, which includes CEO Kevin Webber and head winemaker Tyzok Wharton, also operates tasting rooms in Capitol Hill, Littleton, and Breckenridge, but the Palisade location is by far the most scenic. The breathtaking views of Mount Garfield and the surrounding Book Cliffs, which are best taken in while lounging on the rooftop patio, making sipping on Carboy’s Grand Valley–grown vintages even better.
What to Drink: A tasting of five wines here, which is walk-in only for groups up to six, lets you sample a healthy mix of Carboy’s whites, reds and rosés, but we especially love the sparkling options, like the fruit-forward Grand Premier Blanc De Blanc. 3572 G Road, Palisade

Red Fox Cellars

A group of wines in a row with medals.
Wines from Red Fox Cellars. Photo courtesy of Red Fox Cellars

This adventurous winery run by the Hamilton family sets itself apart from other nearby producers with its roster of bold, oak-forward reds that often feature Italian grapes, as well as a number of wines aged in bourbon, rye whiskey, and dark rum barrels. When the weather is nice, we recommend taking your tasting flight out on the dog-friendly patio. And if someone in your party isn’t much of an oenophile, Red Fox always has eight in-house ciders on tap that you can also enjoy as a flight.
What to Drink: Red Fox pioneered production of Teroldego red wines in Colorado, so we recommend trying the 2018 vintage that the winery’s still pouring. The Fox-tails, such as a version of an old-fashioned with bourbon-aged Merlot, is also fun. 695 36 Road, Palisade

Ethan Pan
Ethan Pan
Ethan Pan is 5280’s associate food editor, writing and editing for the print magazine and Follow his dining/cooking Instagram @ethans_pan.
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia joined the 5280 staff in July 2019 and is thrilled to oversee all of the magazine’s dining coverage. Follow her food reporting adventures on Instagram @whatispattyeating.