Winefest attendance exceeds grape expectations

Nearly 6,000 people attended the Colorado Mountain Winefest in September, a record for an annual event that packs an estimated $1 million economic punch.

“This festival takes over Palisade and the Grand Valley, putting our unique culture and wine industry on display. We love to see the tremendous support of Colorado wine from all across the state,” said Cassidee Shull, executive director of the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology. The nonprofit trade group of wineries and winegrape growers organizes the Winefest as a fund-raiser

According to the association, an estimated 5,846 people attended the Winefest, including the main event — the Festival in the Park in Riverbend Park in Palisade. That’s a record for the 22-year-old event. A total of 800 cyclists joined in an annual bicycle tour of local vineyards.

A total of 47 wineries poured samples at the Festival in the Park, about half of them vintages made only with Colorado-grown grapes. Those wineries served a total of 423 different wines.

Talbott Farms in Palisade provided 600 pounds of grapes for the annual grape stomp competition at the Winefest.

The Winefest is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the year for the Grand Valley.

In addition to drawing visitors from Colorado, the latest event brought in participants from 37 other states.

The Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau pegs the economic effects of the Winefest at between $750,000 and $1 million.

Colorado Wine Week is set for June 1 to 7, capped by the Colorado Urban Winefest June 7 at Infinity Park in Glendale.

The 23rd annual Colorado Mountain Winefest is set for Sept. 18 to 21 in Palisade.