Talk Colorado Wine & Colorado's Wine Country: 2008 Palisade, Colorado, Year In Review

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2008 Palisade, Colorado, Year In Review

O.K. --we know these sorts of year end retrospectives hit more around December 31st or Jan 1. But we've had no shortage of things to report about the Palisade area. It's been busy around here! We're blogging about Colorado wine and wine industry trends, but we don't want to forget what's been happening in our hometown. In the last 12 months, Palisade took major steps to revamp its tourism industry as well as give Main Street a face lift.

Palisade Tribune Editor in Chief Bob Dougherty said it best in his article, "A Year of Exciting Changes for the Town of Palisade." Uncle Bob wrote:

"It was a very good year for the Town of Palisade, 2008. It saw the town take on an exciting and vibrant pace of growth unlike any year in the modern era."

You said it, Uncle Bob. Highlights from the past year include:

A new look for downtown: "The town formulated a plan to turn the dirt area between Main Street and Kluge Avenue adjacent to the railroad tracks into a modern parking lot.... In the meantime, a new Town Center Plaza is being constructed at 3rd and Main where the old parking lot had been. Landscaping and other work will be completed in the spring."

This includes some donated sculpture; namely Harley the Chrome Motorcycle Fish by local artist Lyle Nichols. The fish is made out of mufflers and other shiny parts from old Harley Davidsons. The Blue Pig Gallery raised the funding to donate this civic minded arts project. (Trust us, it's dazzling).

On the tourist front: "A new Tourism Advisory Board was created early in the year and went right to work. In time for the 2008 tourist season, two brochures were readied and distributed. In 2009, the TAB will advise the town on how to spend the revenue generated by the new lodging occupation tax. The tax is paid by the owners of lodging establishments based on $2 per occupied room per night."

"The Palisade Peach Festival drew 29,000 people over its four days, its best year ever. Similarly, the Colorado Mountain Winefest set and attendance record, particularly for out-of-state visitors."

"Along the way, a new festival decided to call Palisade home. The Palisades Bluegrass and Roots Festival is set for June 11-13 in Riverbend Park."

We had tons of publicity: Over a dozen travel writers traipsed through Colorado's Wine Country in 2008, ranging from Eugenia Bone of Sunset Magazine to Stefani Jackenthal of the New York Times.

Unfortunately, some tourist efforts belly flopped: Palisade's plans for a whitewater slalom course on the Colorado River fell apart. "2008 was not all good news, however. The Palisade Whitewater Park eventually crashed and burned due to an implacable federal bureaucracy. The Town jumped through countless hoops, and provided everything that was asked for; but then the rules changed. Countless hoops were followed by countless hoops until the town said, "enough."

We lost some Colorado wine pioneers: Longtime teacher and farmer Curtis Talley died. He was age 85. Talley was one of the first growers in the valley to plant wine grapes after Prohibition. He was an instrumental force in turning Palisade into Colorado's Wine Country.

Also leaving us too soon was Doug Phillips. "Wine industry pioneer Doug Phillips of Plum Creek Cellars died of cancer July 15th. He was fine, and participated in Barrel Tastings in mid-May, and his passing was a shock to the industry and community here and in Denver, where he maintained a law practice with his wife, Sue Phillips."

Both Talley and Phillips will be missed.

And last but not least, the Wine Country Inn opened its doors: "Richard, Jean, Greg and Anne Tally opened their 80-room luxury hotel, the Wine Country Inn August 1, just in time for the 40th Palisade Peach Festival. The inn quickly became a source of great pride for Palisade; and in Decmber; it was named one of the five best hotels in the nation for an outdoor vineyard wedding."

A busy year for Palisade, with even bigger and better projects to come in 2009, for both the town and the Wine Country Inn.

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