Wine? Yes please! Most people head to the mountains for skiing, hiking and relaxation, but they may not know that there’s a miniature Napa Valley right here on the Western Slope. Grand Junction and Palisade are filled with world-class wineries producing top-quality wines. Plus, these wineries are nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, providing spectacular views that pair well with any glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
These Western Slope wineries are perfect for a fall getaway or a weekend day trip, whether you prefer red, white or anything in between.
Ready to plan the perfect wine tour?
Pc: Two Rivers Winery and Chateau
Known For: Two Rivers Merlot
This winery’s nine wines have won 60 different awards in international competitions since it was first founded in 1999. They now produce only six, including a Chardonnay, a Cabernet a Sauvignon, a Riesling, a Syrah, a Port and signature Merlot.The property also hosts special events; in November, the Flanigan Duo — Sean Flanigan of the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and his wife Gisela Flanigan — will perform a series of works for piano and trombone. Enjoy beautiful music and a day of wine tasting in the mountains.
Pc: Maison La Belle Vie Winery
Known For: Vin de Peche
The elegant tasting room at the Maison La Belle Vie Winery will make you feel like you could be sipping an afternoon glass in French wine country. Be sure to try the Vin de Peche, made from Muscat grapes and peaches. It’s a family recipe that’s been passed down since the late 1800s, and all of the wines pair well with the winery’s signature charcuterie board, which includes a selection of cold meats, cheese, olives, hummus, fruits, chocolate, and bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Pc: St Kathryn Cellars
Known For: Lavender Wine
This Palisade winery specializes in unusual flavors and blends. From the Strawberry Rhubarb Blend to the Sweet Scarlet Blend — a marriage of Merlot and blackberry wine — these combinations are one of a kind. St. Kathryn Cellars is most well known for its Lavender Wine, a Colorado Riesling infused with organic lavender.
Pc: Whitewater Hill Vineyards and Winery
Known For: Ethereal Blend
If you’re looking for a more traditional vineyard to sample, Whitewater Hill is a good place to start. Their Ethereal Blend is a Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot blend of the best barrels from each vintage year — and, trust us, it rivals the best of Napa Valley. If you decide to sit outside, you’ll enjoy a picturesque view of the sweeping vineyard punctuated by an old fashioned wind mill.
Pc: Red Fox Cellars
Known For: Bourbon Barrel Merlot
A relative newcomer to the wine-making scene, this hip winery specializes in “bold, adventurous wines,” but also offers a line of ciders and fruit wines. Red Fox’s Bourbon Barrel Merlot — its best-selling wine — is aged in bourbon barrels sourced from local Colorado distilleries. Be sure to spend some time enjoying a glass on the patio, or check out one of the food trucks that regularly parks outside.
Pc: Hermosa Vineyards
Known For: Gewurztraminer
Try saying ‘Gewurztraminer’ five times fast. The sweet German white is a Hermosa Vineyards specialty, and you’d better grab a few bottles while you can — the winery produces all of its wines in limited quantities because they’re committed to being one of the best wineries rather than the biggest. Hermosa is also lauded for its great customer service, so may want to sit and stay awhile.
Pc: Carlson Vineyards
Known For: Tyrannosaurus Red
Family-owned since 1981, Carlson Vineyards quickly made a name for itself in the Colorado wine scene. They treat their customers like family, too — their philosophy is that wine is for everyone, and wine tasting should never be a snobby affair. At Carlson, you’ll have a diverse selection of reds, whites and dessert wines to sample. If you love them enough, you might even want to try one of the vineyard’s wine-inspired recipes, like the Tyrannosaurus Red Spaghetti Sauce.
Pc: Mesa Park Vineyards
Known For: The Barn Owl Red
As soon as you set foot in Mesa Park Vineyards, you’ll be greeted by the sight of an idyllic red barn where the outfit makes its Bordeaux-style wines. Visitors love the quaint, down-to-earth experience Mesa Park offers, from the friendly customer service from winemaker Chuck — who’s always up for conversation — to the rustic setting of a family farm. Mesa Park’s mild reds are the way to go; our favorite is The Barn Owl Red.
Pc: Varaison Vineyards and Winery
Known For: Creme Brulee Chardonnay
Varaison’s tasting room is located in a historic Victorian house, providing a perfect setting for a relaxing getaway. Their tastings are personalized, and the staff is very knowledgeable, so expect to learn a thing or two about wine and wine tastings. We recommend the winery’s limited release Creme Brulee Chardonnay, which is dedicated to the winemaker’s father and includes notes of vanilla, butterscotch, ripe melon, pear, pineapple, and butter. If you’re up for an afternoon stroll, meander through the vineyard’s rose garden before heading off to your next stop.
Pc: Avant Vineyards
Known For: Cremant Sparkling Wine
This one is slightly off the beaten path, but it’s well worth the drive. At Avant Vineyards, it’s all about keeping the winemaking process simple and natural to create their Spanish and Italian-style wines. That philosophy matches the surroundings — the winery’s patio offers breathtaking views of the river and mountains to enjoy as you sip your wine. Be sure to try the Cremant Sparkling Wine, as it’s only available for sale at the winery itself.
Even if you’re a novice to the wine world, a weekend tour of the best wine the Western Slope has to offer will leave you feeling like a master sommelier. These vineyards provide the perfect setting for a relaxing weekend away, as well as a chance to support Colorado-grown wineries. And don’t forget to leave some room in your suitcase — you’ll definitely want to bring home a bottle or two.