Colorado Mountain Winefest attracts record numbers to Palisade |

Colorado Mountain Winefest attracts record numbers to Palisade

Colorado Mountain Winefest 2013
Caitlin Row / | Free Press

Colorado Mountain Winefest by the numbers:

• 5,846: Total Winefest attendance

• 38: States Winefest guests travelled from

• 300: Volunteers

• 47: Wineries in the park

• 23: Wineries that took the Colorado Appellation Pledge (only bringing Colorado-grown wines to Winefest)

• 423: Different wines served

• 800: Cyclists in the annual Tour de Vineyards bike ride

• 23: Buses used to shuttle guests

• 600: Pounds of Talbott Farms grapes needed for the annual grape stomp

SOURCE: CAVE staff report

Despite flooding on the Front Range, sunshine reigned supreme in Palisade for the 22nd annual Colorado Mountain Winefest, Sept. 20-22. This was good luck for organizers, as this year’s three-day event boasted record attendance numbers — an estimated 5,846 from 38 states up from 5,000 in 2012.

“We had such a great energy at Winefest on Saturday,” Colorado Association for Viticulture & Enology (CAVE) Executive Director Cassidee Shull said. “With 300 volunteers, a dedicated staff, and our board of directors, it was great to see all those pieces work together, along with support from the community. It was fun to watch and exciting to see big project come together.”

“We were so fortunate with the weather,” she added.

Palisade’s Riverbend Park was definitely full to the gills Saturday for Winefest’s main event. Colorful sundresses were the garment of choice for lady attendees, and by the end of the day almost everyone seemed laden with wine purchases for home. Folks also queued up for tastes and food consistently from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., while groups relaxed in grassy areas to drink wine in the sunshine.

Shull attributes high attendance numbers this year to a record-breaking pre-sale, too. She said CAVE put its 2013 Winefest passes on sale six or so months earlier than they have in the past, along with an increased social media and web presence.

In 1992 when Winefest started, there were only five wineries involved; this year, there were 47 different wineries represented in Riverbend Park. Shull also estimated Winefest’s inaugural year attendance to be somewhere around 500.

Now, according to a recent CAVE news release, “the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau estimates the festival — which is the busiest tourist weekend of the year for the Grand Valley — creates between $750,000-$1 million in economic impact.”

Winefest is CAVE’s biggest fundraiser of the year as well. The membership-based organization resides in the Grand Valley “to encourage and support enology and viticulture in Colorado,” the news release said.

And though a final estimate on money raised is not yet in, Shull confirmed that funds raised at last weekend’s Winefest will support CAVE’s annual regional trade conference set for Jan. 14-16, 2014.

Winefest “is the reason we continue to keep our doors open,” Shull said.

Want to go next fall? The 23rd annual Colorado Mountain Winefest weekend is slated for Sept. 18-21, 2014.

For more information about CAVE, its events and offerings, visit

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