Worth exploring for its beauty and bounty, this high-altitude wine region is on the rise. Colorado isn’t just paradise for outdoor adventurers—it has plenty to offer any wine lover as well. At over 4,000 feet in elevation, Grand Junction and Colorado’s Grand Valley AVA should also be high on your must-visit list. Rocky plateaus offer a beautiful backdrop for wine tasting, hiking, mountain biking and white-water rafting, while abundant fruit markets show off local peaches and other delicious produce to snack on in between. Add in excellent accommodations and dining, and you’ll never want to come back down to lower ground. —Fiona Adams
Where To Dine
Start your day with a delicious sit-down breakfast at The Egg & I, where you can “wake up to wonderful” with the Hiker’s Benedict. If you’d rather get a rolling start, snag some coffee and a house-made pastry from Mihaela’s Bakery for breakfast on the run. Enjoy a delicious lunch served at one of Grand Junction’s killer breweries, such as any of Kannah Creek Brewing Company’s three locations or locally loved Rockslide Restaurant & Brewery. When it’s time for dinner, wind down with a glass of wine at downtown Grand Junction favorites 626 on Rood or Bin 707 Foodbar.
Where to Stay
Take in all that Grand Valley has to offer by staying at picturesque Palisade River Ranch, located right on the Colorado River in the heart of wine country. Or, to really to make the most of your stay among the vines, choose the Two Rivers Winery and Chateau. For cozier lodgings close to downtown Grand Junction, Castle Creek B&B is the place to be. Owners LeeAnn and Ron will make you feel right at home.
Grand Valley has plenty to offer thrill seekers. The Lunch Loops Trail System is the place to go for serious biking, or hit the trails on foot and take in the breathtaking views at Colorado National Monument. For a more relaxed experience, check out a golf course, like Redlands Mesa or Tiara Rado, which is also a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf.
Enjoy a horse-drawn wagon tour of Clark Family Orchards, free on Saturdays, or explore the expansive orchards on foot. There are plenty of samples to be enjoyed at the fruit stand, including fresh, juicy peaches.
Where to Taste
The Grand Valley AVA is the oldest and largest American Viticultural Area in Colorado. Two Rivers Winery and Chateau isn’t just a great place stay—you won’t want to miss their wines either. Several wineries are located in nearby Palisade, including Colorado Cellars, the oldest and largest winery in the state. Enjoy a stroll through the rose garden with a glass in hand at Varaison Vineyards or check out the laid-back vibe at Red Fox Cellars. While in Palisade, take a break from wine and sample the ciders at Talbott’s Cider Co. Be sure to try the IPC Hopped Hard Cider and the Grow a Pear Perry, made with a splash of Riesling.
When to Go
The best time to visit is during peach season, July through September, when you can also spot lush grape-laden vines throughout the vineyards.
The lush Grand Valley’s high altitude and dry, sunny days are prime for grape growing. Though the area is still emerging in terms of winemaking, many producers have found success in growing classic vinifera varieties like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Riesling and Syrah. Additionally, both Bordeaux- and Rhône-style red blends have proven to yield high-quality bottlings from the region, expressive in robust New World-style fruit though with good, balancing acidity thanks to the appellation’s high elevation. The state has yet to find its signature grape, making for an ideal opportunity to explore this region on the rise.
Local In The Know
Mistalynn Lee Meyeraan, marketing and public relations manager for Visit Grand Junction, suggests the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area as a dog-friendly hiking option. If skiing is more your thing, check out Powderhorn Mountain Resort. And if you’re visiting in late spring, Rimrock Adventures is the best way to connect with the local wild horse population. Watch for Feasts in the Field dinners during the Palisade Peach Festival in August: “There is nothing like dining on amazing food under lights in the orchard,” Meyeraan says.