5 weekends in Colorado wine regions

Photo courtesy of Restoration Vineyards


We’ve created five routes to help you savor the last dregs of harvest season in the Centennial State.

Visitors flock to the various wine regions of Colorado each September for grape trampling and other harvest festivities. Take advantage of our weekend itineraries to savor the dregs of the season.

Grand Valley American Wine Zone (AVA)

Almost 85 percent of Colorado’s grapes come from this growing region near Grand Junction known for its hot, dry climate.


4:00 p.m. Colorado Mesa University Hospitality Interns hone their guest energy at the Maverick Hotel in Grand Junction. thehotelmaverick.com 6:00 PM Sneak past Moody’s for wagyu steak in a sweatshop-style lounge. moodyslounge.com


12h00 Savor Barbera and Semillon wines at Restoration Vineyards, named after the owner’s Mercedes-Benz refurbishment hobby (location 14 on the property). cateringvineyards.com
3:30 p.m. At Plum Creek Cellars, a nine-foot-tall metal sculpture lovingly dubbed “Chardonnay Chicken” has visitors laughing before they even start sipping the white Palisade Festival blend. Plumcreekwinery.com


9:30 a.m. Rent a board from GJ SUP for a chariot at the new Riverfront at Las Colonias Park, which is home to a dog park, concert hall, trails, and more. gjsup.com
12h00 Devil’s Kitchen, on the patio of the Maverick Hotel, serves a beet salad with a hop infused vinaigrette and a view of Colorado National Monument. devilskitchenrestaurant.com

West Elks AVA and the North Fork Valley

The cool climate of Delta County produces delicate white grapes for dry rieslings and gewürztraminers.


5:00 p.m.. Flying Fork chefs celebrate the bounty of their farming environment by coating handmade pasta with local produce. flyforkcafe.com
7:30 p.m. The rocking chairs on the porch of the 115-year-old Bross Hotel Bed & Breakfast might just be the most comfortable places to relax after a day of wine tasting, though the on-site hot tub offers stiff competition. . paonia-inn.com


1:00 p.m. Owner Dave Aschwanden explains his Old World fermentation techniques during pre-arranged personal tastings at Chill Switch Wines in Cedaredge. chillswitchwine.wordpress.com
3:30 p.m. Stone Cottage Cellars’ Sweet Alpine Dessert Wine pairs divinely well with Raspberry Pistachio Cheesecake, the source of Paonia’s Poppy Baking Cellar. stonecottagecellars.com


11:30 a.m. Sample lemon-chive goat cheese and Manchego goat cheese at Western Culture Farmstead. Don’t leave without thanking the goats. westernculturefarmstead.com

Rocky Mountain Region

Artisans, spread across several counties west of Rocky Mountain National Park, harness the high elevation to turn imported grapes into complex blends.


3 p.m. The self-service model at Salida’s Manhattan Hotel speeds up check-in so you can watch kayakers on the Arkansas River from your balcony. manhattanhotelsalida.com
5:00 p.m. We love the cheesy jokes on Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub’s menu (“Treat mom, add veg”) as much as the scratchy batter that rocks the toppings. moonlightpizza.biz


10:00 a.m. Hike among rock spiers at Colorado’s newest member of the National Monument Club, Browns Canyon. blm.gov
5:00 p.m. At Vino Salida Wine Cellars, order mead made with local honey and settle in to some blues or rock live. vinosalida.com


9h00 Travel through the rolling deserts and lush woods of the Four Mile Recreation Area side-by-side from Rocky Mountain Adventure Rentals. rmar1.com
3 p.m. The rarefied air from Continental Divide Winery’s Fairplay production plant (elevation: 10,361 feet) slows fermentation, emphasizing the floral notes of each grape. breckwinery.com

Front North range

Conveniently located less than 90 minutes from Denver, these easy-to-access wineries serve the bounty of the Western Slope (most wineries get grapes from the AVA regions of Centennial State) but make their reds, whites and rosés a lot. closer to home.


5:15 p.m. Sit on the balcony of rustic Boulder Creek Lodge in the Netherlands and look for moose in the hotel’s namesake waterway. thebouldercreeklodge.com
6:00 p.m. At Busey Brews Smokehouse and Brewery, even the tofu takes time on the smoker, although carnivores typically opt for chicken wings that fall off the bones. buseybrews.com


10:00 a.m. Rent an electric bike from Estes Park Mountain Shop and try to choose Hallet Peak and Lumpy Ridge as you cruise around the 3.75 mile paved loop surrounding Estes Lake. estesparkmountainshop.com
12h00 Enjoy the award-winning Mourvèdre, a light and fruity red, from Snowy Peaks Winery while sitting on the patio and listening to the elk bugle in the Rocky Mountain National Park next door. snowypeakswinery.com
3:30 p.m. Boulder County’s premier wine producer, Augustina’s Winery, may be a one-woman show, but owner Gussie Walter takes the time to answer even the most basic questions about the winemaking process. augustinaswinery.com


10:00 a.m. Shop in Boulder’s iconic Pearl Street, the outdoor clothing mecca, where Black Diamond, Backcountry and Stio stores recently joined old favorites like Patagonia and Prana. boulderdowntown.com

Four Corners Region

Celebrate the rich culture of the southwest corner of Colorado by tasting its jammy pearls, dry Rieslings and sweet fruit wines.


4:00 p.m. Each room at the Rochester Hotel includes a copy of Hollywood of the Rockies, a book about the many westerns set in Durango, which you can flip through while waiting for your partner to shower before dinner. Rochesterhotel.com
6:00 p.m. We didn’t think it was possible to improve on the already delicious corn dog, until we tasted the version of Eolus with lobster. eolusdurango.com


10:45 a.m. Relax in one of 28 natural mineral water experiences at the newly renovated Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa, including a Japanese-inspired cedar tub. durangohotspringsresortandspa.com
1:30 p.m. Stroll through the last rows of cold-hardy varietals at Fox Fire Farm Vineyard and admire the 910-acre ranching operation while sipping full-bodied, triple-gold medal-winning marquette. foxfirefarms.com
5:00 p.m. Meet a winemaker from Four Leaves Winery to taste a few wines, determine your personal taste preferences, and create a personalized batch that will be sent to you after a few months of fermentation. fourleaveswinery.com


10:00 a.m. Pack a freshly made hotel scone in your suitcase before you go – you’ll thank us on the way home.
10:30 Browse traditional Navajo rugs, Pueblo pottery, and other artwork made by creatives of the Hopi, Zuni, and other indigenous tribes of the southwest at the Toh-Atin Gallery. toh-atin.com

This article appeared in the October 2021 issue of 5280.

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