Talk Colorado Wine & Colorado's Wine Country: Critic Kyle Wagner Drops by the Wine Country

Monday, January 26, 2009

Critic Kyle Wagner Drops by the Wine Country

We've admired Colorado author and Kyle Wagner for years, all the way back to her food and wine critic days at Denver's indie newspaper, Westword. Wagner is tough yet fair, a prolific writer whose unpretentious critiques carry more heart than bite. Now she is travel editor for the Denver Post.

So we were surprised but ecstatic when Wagner paid a secret visit to the our little hotel. We're reprinting her criticisms, warts and all, because we feel they are even-handed. Under the headline, "Wine Country Inn," Wagner wrote:

"Rates: Standard king or double queen starts at $149 per night ($89 in winter); the separate Vintner's Guest House, with rooms arranged around a club room for rental by the half or whole for private functions, starts at $169 per room ($109 in winter). Check the Web for specials. Overnight parking in lot is free."

"Stay here if you: love the idea of sleeping right at a Colorado vineyard."

"It's close to: Interstate 70, which can be seen from the parking lot, but the noise is surprisingly muffled when you're inside the inn. The Book Cliffs and Grand Mesa views are just out the window. Grand Junction is 10-15 minutes down the highway."

"The rooms are: very new and very clean, decorated with rich-colored fabrics to give it an upscale look, such as golds and wines on the draperies and bedspreads, even though overall it is fairly casual. Each room offers a chair and ottoman, flat-screen TV, refrigerator and microwave, and the bathrooms feature granite counters and tub liners. King rooms can be updated with a private patio, which is nice for the Book Cliffs views. The only thing we weren't thrilled about in the room was the bathroom doors — sliders have a way of moving along the track too fast, catching fingers and banging when they close, which can be heard in the next room."

"They put all of the money into: putting an appealing lodging onto an established vineyard. When Steve Smith put his Grande River Vineyards winery up for auction in 2006, Palisade residents Jean and Richard Tally were able to realize a decade-long dream, and Smith has since begun bottling a Wine Country Inn label. The inn offers afternoon tastings for guests, which is a nice touch, and there's an outdoor heated pool and hot tub. Breakfast in an appealing room is included, as is WiFi, and there are also fitness and business centers. One more comment: When this place starts to become popular, as I suspect it will, that parking lot will be inadequate."

"The bottom line: With its farmhouse style and rocking chairs on the wraparound porches, the property has a welcoming feel that goes a long way toward overcoming its close-to-the-highway locale. Over time, the brand-spanking-newness of the building will fade, and the Wine Country Inn should blend in nicely with the surrounding area. It's a great addition to the Grand Valley."

To address a couple of the issues Wagner listed: the sliding bathroom doors are meant to evoke farmhouse doors from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Our architect, J.G. Johnson, deliberately paid homage to the historic farm houses and outbuildings that dot the valley floor around Palisade. Johnson calls the style, "farmhouse vernacular;" it has a Victorian influenced look and feel. These were part of our efforts to honor the history and tradition of the Palisade area.

Our parking lot is a little tight, and this was on purpose. We felt an obligation to preserve as much of the original 21 acres of the Mount Lincoln Vineyards as we possibly could. We wanted guests to admire vines and mesas around their verandas, not asphalt.

So, all in all, a great write up! You can read the rest of Kyle Wagner's Denver Post write up here.

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