Sunday, March 9, 2014

Winery Tour in the Grand Valley

The race is done, finisher medal safely stowed away, I'm showered and dressed and (somewhat) fed and rehydrated.  Now it's time to join the others on a winery tour for the rest of the afternoon.  The race organizers had arranged for a group tour using Three Dreams Charter Tours.

About 20 of us are signed up to take this tour and two vans arrived to collect us, one a larger, airport-shuttle style van, the other a smaller, more comfortable van.  Most of the group piled into the larger van, leaving three of us to the smaller van.  I was just fine with this!  Our driver, Donna, was personable and chatty, and the young couple that joined me were from Iowa, so we had a nice, more intimate tour and, being a much smaller group, Donna assured us that we'd be able to visit a couple more wineries than the other van.  The two drivers had arranged the route so that we would not be at the same wineries, which really helped with the intimacy of the tour.

Our driver Donna even took us out of town on a different, more scenic route than the other van driver.  Most of the wineries - and all that we would be visiting - are in Palisade and surrounding area, close to the base of Grand Mesa east of Grand Junction.  The drive to get to the first of several wineries was very scenic with spectacular views in all directions.  The area is filled with fruit orchards and vineyards.  It must be spectacular to see in the spring and summer!

First winery:  Mesa Park Vineyards...

Mesa Park winery tasting room

Mesa Park winery tasting room

I've been to wineries for tastings elsewhere, but was quite pleasantly surprised at the limitless tastings of all of their offerings here in these wineries.  Everything on their wine list here and at the other wineries we visited were available for tasting.  At Mesa I tried three of their reds, each quite different.

Then we moved on to the next winery, Colorado Cellars, the oldest winery in Colorado.  At this winery, we were given the chance to taste any of their wines and then select one for a full serving, with a souvenir wine glass to take home.  Donna brought a cheese and cracker platter and we sat outside at a table with a lovely view to enjoy our wine and snack.  So relaxing!

Some of Colorado Cellars vineyards

An impressive collection of awards for their wines

Colorado Cellars tasting room

Enjoying our wine and crackers

Donna (our driver) and fellow race finisher Ollie.

Patch of heather along the drive to the tasting room.
Then it was on to our next winery, actually a meadery:  Meadery of the Rockies!!

I tried a couple of the different meads, one a raspberry mead called Raspberry Chocolate Satin, the other a lighter mead called Camelot. Surprisingly good!  I could imagine making any of these into a wine spritzer with seltzer.  Umm umm!

The Meadery list of products

Meadery tasting room

Meadery tasting room - view into the production room

Meadery tasting room

Some of their wine awards
I was trying to be conservative and only taste a couple of wines from each winery.  It was hard, though, when the selections were so unusual and so good!

Our next stop was at a winery that was actually two wineries in one, both owned by the same family.  One side is a tasting room devoted to their traditional reds and whites (Talon Winery), the other side is a tasting room for some their fruit-infused wines (St. Kathryn winery).
Talon Winery

Talon winery tasting room

Talon winery tasting room

Oh,'s also a fudge factory!

Talon winery on one side,  St. Kathryn's on the other side

List of some of their offerings.
Some great tastings and 1/4 lb of fudge purchased for later, we headed for our last stop of the day, a distillery!

Peach Street Distillers...This tiny little winery/distillery makes grappa, distilled agave (tequila, but cannot be labeled as such outside of Mexico), and gin.  I had a taste of Viognier grappa (love this distillate ever since having it for the first time in Italy many years ago) and then tried two different agave distillate.  He then pulled an unlabeled bottle out from beneath the counter and gave each of us a sip of their special, secret recipe, made from gin, gin-soaked vanilla beans and Trader Joe's brewed coffee.  Holy cow!!  Good stuff!

Peach Street Distillers
 A food truck pulled in to their parking lot just about the same time we did.  As we started to head for the van after our tastings, the aromas coming from that food truck got the better of me.  I was hungry, having had no lunch after running that half marathon, so I bought a grilled ahi tuna taco, which was fabulous and totally hit the spot!
Okay...a food truck and I'm hungry!
The other van was pulling in just as we were getting to leave, so our driver walked over to talk briefly with the other driver.  She learned that they only managed to get to two wineries before arriving at this distillers. Our little group were definitely winners!  We managed five wineries, a fudge factory, and this great and tasty little distillery.

I was dropped off at my hotel, a very tired but very happy camper after a long but extremely fulfilling day!

Tomorrow morning, early:  The same tour driver will be taking me and another runner on a 4-hour tour of Colorado National Monument.

1 comment:

  1. Nice choice on the smaller van. I don't think people always realize smaller more intimate groups make for better tours.

    A wonderful way to end your day. I bet a nap was in order after that.