Colorado Cellars, the first winery to create and sell wines made from Colorado-grown grapes, has long been a family business. Owners Padte and Richard Turley planted their first vines in the Grand Valley in 1975, and sons Kyle and Cory now help run the operation. The Turley family roots, however, extend even deeper: One family ancestor arrived in the state in 1824 after traversing the Santa Fe Trail, while another helped found the town of Pueblo in order to distribute his “Taos Lightning” whiskey.
The Space: The tasting room is located in a small stucco building filled with tasteful merchandise displays. Although separated from the tasting counter, the front windows have expansive views of the vineyards and Mount Garfield, the highest peak on the valley’s north side.
The Grapes: The Turley family oversees all aspects of Colorado Cellars’ winemaking, from growing their own grapes to keeping bees, whose honey Padte—one of Colorado’s best-known female winemakers—uses to make their fabulous Spiced Nektar Mead. This smooth, easy-drinking wine, which has notes of clove and cinnamon and tastes like mulled cider, can be served chilled or splashed over fresh Palisade peaches in summer or heated in winter.
The Wine: In addition to Colorado Cellars, the winery uses several other labels, including the Orchard Mesa Wine Company, Colorado Mountain Vineyards, and Rocky Mountain Vineyards, whose eye-catching, bright-red label is displayed on their best-selling Roadkill Red. This whimsically named, semi-sweet blend is light and fruity, with a pale purplish-red color and hints of raspberry that are delicious served chilled on a hot summer afternoon.
Buzzed Trivia: By harnessing their combined half-century of experience in the winemaking business, Padte and Turley have been able to store and successfully rebottle some of their oldest Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Port to create the state’s only vintage wine library.
Taste it: In summer, the winery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. In winter, the hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Visitors can taste five wines for free; additional tastings cost $1 each. In a nice break from tradition, the wine is served in mini port-style glasses. We recommend trying some of Padte’s fruit wines, such as the delicious, dark pink Plum Wine or the semi-dry Chokecherry Wine, both of which are surprisingly tart despite their sweet aromas. The sweeter Elderberry Wine, which has a pronounced berry flavor, won a gold medal in last year’s Governor’s Cup Competition. If you’re hosting a summer brunch, mix champagne with any of Colorado Cellars’ fruit wines for a refreshing mimosa.
Take Home: Colorado Cellars also sells a variety of wine foods, which range from Zinfandel Garlic Salsa, and Chardonnay Mustard, to herb cooking wines. For dessert, they also sell several varieties of gooey fudge toppings as well as decadent treats like Pinot Noir Chocolate Cherries.
Visit: Colorado Cellars is located at 3553 E Road, Palisade; 970-464-7921