USA's Top Winefest Returns to Palisade

Photography Courtesy CAVE

Photography Courtesy CAVE


Crowned “Best Wine Festival in the Nation” by USA TODAY readers in 2017, Colorado Mountain Winefest presented by Alpine Bank is proud to mark its 27th annual event September 13-16 in Palisade. If that seems like a far way off, don’t be fooled: This four-day celebration in the heart of Colorado’s wine country has grown from a 500-person event at its inception in 1992, to sell-out crowds the past three years, with nearly 7,000 attendees each autumn.

    To say tickets go fast for this festival is a serious understatement. “By the first week of March this year, VIP tickets had already sold out [for the VIP Tent], which is the earliest this has ever happened,” says Executive Director Cassidee Shull of the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE). “General admission tickets are still available, but we encourage you to purchase them early, as they’re also expected to sell out in record time.”

    CAVE is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to Colorado winemakers and grape growers, and the Colorado Mountain Winefest is its largest fundraiser. All festival proceeds are directly channeled into education and marketing, helping the wine industry continue to grow in
the state.

    It takes 350 local volunteers to put on Winefest, and 70 percent of attendees are from outside the Grand Valley — including all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and several countries. Shull says many festival-goers see Winefest as a destination vacation, booking accommodations a year in advance. As a result, the annual event is a huge economic boost for the Grand Valley, bringing in an estimated $1.1 million or more in economic revenue.


    The festival’s main event takes place on Saturday, September 15, in Palisade’s Riverbend Park. The state’s largest event of its kind features more than 50 Colorado wineries, live music, a grape stomp, chef demonstrations, educational seminars, scrumptious food, and quality merchandise vendors. Tickets include unlimited sips, a commemorative tasting glass, a wine tote, and more. Convenient shuttle bus services are available from nearby parking areas.

    Additional events prior to and following Saturday’s festivities are a bit more intimate. These include chocolate and wine tasting, wine country bus tours, a wine and painting event, and a farmer’s market of seasonal produce.

    “Winefest allows you to sample reds, whites, and rosés not only from Palisade, but from the North Fork Valley to the Front Range, all the way down to the Four Corners,” Shull says. “It’s the perfect occasion to discover all that Colorado wines have to offer in one location, at an incredible world-class event right in our own backyard.” 

The setting is fabulous, [and] the wines that Colorado has produced in the past 10 years rival other wineries in the country. The Fest is where we fill our wine racks annually. Such a great venue and you can support local businesses. If you come once, you’ll be back every year after!

—Kimberly G., Frederick, CO

A lovely experience in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. From arrival to departure, the hospitality, food and wine were top-notch!

— Cheryl J., Dallas, TX