Western Colorado Apple Harvest Happenings
For many, fall in western Colorado means two things: changing aspen leaves, and apples. Western Slope farmers produce an incredible variety of apples throughout the summer and fall— including such well-known varieties as Gala, Fuji, Jonagold, and the ever-popular Honeycrisp, as well as more obscure varieties with intriguing names like Esopus Spitzenburg, Cox’s Orange Pippin, and Ashmead’s Kernel.
A highlight of the harvest season is apple ciders and juices, which are readily available around the area. If you’re in Palisade, Talbott’s Mountain Gold is a can’t-miss orchard and non-alcoholic cider producer. Their cider press runs from August to December, and their products can be purchased at Walmart and City Market if you can’t make it to the farm yourself.
Talbott’s Cider Company, producing primarily hard ciders, is a popular stop on Palisade wine-tasting tours. They are known for some of their more original offerings, including a hopped dry cider and their Colo-Mosa, a cider mixed with orange juice.
Big B’s Delicious Juices in Hotchkiss has it all, including numerous organic “soft” ciders (cherry-apple, anyone?), lemonade, apple cider vinegar, and award-winning hard ciders. You can stop in and grab a bite off their food menu, or even camp out in their orchards for a couple of days. They also host Ciderfest, featuring ciders from around the state, along with live music, food, and all-ages activities.
Elisa Greco, who has been with Big B’s for ten and a half years, says that “the orchards are just beautiful in the fall. By then peaches, pears, and apples are on.”
By the time the festival rolls around, the apple press is in full swing, producing some of the freshest ciders around. Big B’s “presses to order,” says Greco. “We like to be out [of cider] by the end of the week.” This year’s festival will be on Sunday, October 28.
If the thought of waiting until late October gets you antsy, here are a few other opportunities to experience the season:
Although not strictly an apple festival, Paonia holds its annual Mountain Harvest Festival celebrating local music, art, farms, food, and spirits September 27-30.
The little town of Cedaredge draws over 25,000 people to its annual Applefest, October 6-7. This event features local apple orchardists along with artists, vendors, and live music. Cedaredge is also home to Snow Capped Cider’s orchards and tasting room, offering traditional flavors of hard ciders as well as more unusual ones like Jalapearño and Colorado Peach.
Museums of Western Colorado celebrates the harvest with their annual Fall Day on the Farm at the Cross Orchards Historic Site in Grand Junction. This opportunity to participate in traditional farm activities, including pressing your own cider, will be held on October 20.
Greco sums up fall in Colorado perfectly when she describes our “cooler days and lots of fresh fruit,” paired with “that festive sort of feeling you get.” Get out there and enjoy this year’s harvest!