Category Archives: Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway

What Are Book Signings Like?

West Elks Wine Trail signing poster image

My first signing for “Western Colorado Fruit & Wine: A Bountiful Heritage” is less than a week away. The calendar is filling in with more. People say to me, “How exciting.” Well, sort of. I love to write. I love to learn things. I love to Eat, Drink, Cook—my version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey that does not require vaccinations or a passport.

Here is what Mary Janice Davidson says about book signings: “A book signing can be (is!) terrifying. It’s like throwing a party and being certain no one will come …  pens clenched in sweaty hands, smiling brightly (baring [my] teeth, anyway) at every would-be buyer who strolled past …  and not look like a depressed vulture waiting for something to die at my feet.”

 Photo courtesy Z's Orchard.

Photo courtesy Z’s Orchard.

Davidson and Eric Gelb, author of “Book Promotion Made Easy” (whose book signing audiences have numbered zero to 200), both say the same thing, though. Have fun with it. Enjoy the ride.

For me, even more than signing jitters, is the idea that my book is a vehicle—with a word count—for the stories of other people and places. I kept that notion with me in the hours, days, and months of research, fact-checking, writing, and revisions while the peach trees and vines lay dormant under the snow. I was reminded that I was a voice for old and new pioneers, for fruit and wine, for profit and nonprofits deeply rooted in the North Fork and Grand Valley’s fruit story when I listened back to the recorded interviews.

Now, with the fruit ripening in the valleys and the wine pouring in the Grand Valley and West Elks AVAs, it is nearly time to talk to the people for whom I wrote the book—the people who every time they taste a peach, or tour an orchard, or sip a Cabernet they become part of the story. It is time to embrace the words of the kitchen magnet: Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone. Yikes.Back cover

 

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Harvesting Spring in Palisade, Colorado

Colorado Cellars Winery

Colorado Cellars Winery

May days on East Orchard Mesa above Palisade are lush with post blossom greenery. Verdant grapes on the vines are forming miniature clusters among the broad leaves. Even cherries—the first fruit of the growing season—are green.

Along the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway, growers are nurturing peach saplings. Z’s Orchard is planting 500 strawberry and 800 raspberry plants to add to their established u-pick patch. Early kale, lettuce, arugula, radish, and rhubarb are ready to harvest for the spring table. Click here to Z’s Orchard on Facebook to see what else is happening. (Click here.)

Gardeners are loading up their cars and trucks with greenhouse bounty at Sage Creations Organic Farm. Lavender-lovers wanting to start their own farm can learn from the owner and propagating pioneer, Paola Legarre, at Sage’s “Plant to Market” class on May 22nd. Sign-up is limited to ensure personalized instruction. Topics covered:

  • Preparing beds
  • Irrigation
  • Planting
  • Pruning
  • Harvesting (for optimum use)
  • Post-harvest handling
  • Cultivars and their marketability
  • Introduction to lavender propagation

(Click here to get to Paola’s blog for more information)

For those who would rather create in the kitchen, Sage Creations Organic Farm has a variety of lavender recipes on their website from various chefs and magazines.  One I plan on trying is Bon Appétit Magazine’s Chocolate Lavender Honey Tart.

Chocolate Lavender Honey Tart

Author: (Bon Appetit Magazine, April 2008)

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 whole chocolate graham crackers (about 5 oz.)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp, divided
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender blossoms
  • 12 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 9 inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray. Grind graham crackers with 3 tablespoons butter and honey in processor until fine crumbs form. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not up sides) of prepared tart pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool.
  2. Bring cream and lavender just to boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, remove from heat. Place chocolate in medium saucepan. Strain hot cream mixture into saucepan with chocolate. Stir over medium-low heat just until melted and smooth. Add cocoa powder and remaining 1 tablespoon butter; stir until melted and smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over crust in tart pan. Chill at least 45 minutes (chocolate will be slightly soft after 45 minutes and firm after 2 hours). Cut into wedges and serve. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Click here to learn more about cooking with lavender from Sage Creations Organic Farm.

Share photos of your culinary creations here at A Bountiful History’s virtual #farmtocommunitytable.

Sage Creations Organic Farm cherry trees.

Sage Creations Organic Farm cherry trees.

Winter in Palisade’s Orchards

Palisade winter orchard

Palisade orchards might be six months from dripping with their famous ripe peaches, but that doesn’t mean it’s not busy around there. If you look down the rows, through the barren branches and across the fields you’ll see why. It’s pruning season.

Workers are giving fruit trees their seasonal trim. (A little off the top, please?) The sun is out again after a snow—a gift during a much too warm winter with little moisture. Workers set up the ladders or ride on flatbeds through the orchards, long scissor-like pruning tools in hand. They pile up the downed limbs and twigs, removing them from the rows lest insects find a cozy home for multiplication … and I don’t mean 2 x 2 = 4. Think 2 x 2 = zillions of pests.

Prunning workersLabor needs aren’t just in the summer and harvest season. It’s year round. Child and Migrant Services (CMS) in Palisade is a lifeline. They are a network for farmers to connect with those looking for work. Plus, migrant workers find community at CMS. Director Karalyn Dorn says orchard work takes a lot of knowledge, skill, dedication. As a result, farmers like to hire the same guys (or gals) each year. “It’s a win, win,” says Dorn.Palisade winery

Even with the pruning activity in February, the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway is pretty quiet. Sure, only a few country stores are open. (If you’re low on lavender and olive oil stop into Sprigs & Sprouts on Hwy 6.) Roadside fruit stands say “Thank you” and “Closed.” The good news for winter agritourists, though, is many of the gates to wine tasting rooms are open. (Thank you, Maison le Belle Vie!)

 

 

2014 Colorado Mountain Winefest

 

wine grapes along the byway

wine grapes along the byway

Cheers! Today marks the first day of the four day 2014 Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade, Colorado.

Viticulturists,  epicures, and designated drivers come from all over Colorado, her neighboring states (especially Utah), and even as far away as Australia and China to sip, stomp, and dine among the vines. Tourists who drive along the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway visiting the wineries and farm stands are treated to a sight of lush foliage contrasted by a dry western horizon of the rocky Book Cliffs and the Colorado National Monument—fruit forward with a dry finish.

Fruit orchard with Bookcliffs

Fruit orchard with Book Cliffs

There are several events within the Winefest, including Festival in the Park, Wine, Dine, & Paint!, Winemakers Dinner, and Chocolate & Wine Tasting. Saturday morning kicks off early with the annual Tour de Vineyards bicycle ride for those who want to begin the day detoxing.  Additionally, restaurants from Grand Junction and Palisade are offering special food and wine pairings.

Winefest is sponsored by the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE), a statewide nonprofit that supports research and education of the Colorado wine industry. The event began with a grassroots effort in the late eighties, a few volunteers, and limited interest. CAVE Executive Director Cassidee Shull says organizers begged vendors to participate. The original vision has since grown from five winery participants to fifty in 2013, with upwards of 5,800 attendees for the festival.

Photographer Casey Hess and I will be among the press covering year’s Winefest. We’ll be along the Tour de Vineyards route, at the Chocolate & Wine Tasting, and in the park with our cameras. Some of the photos will be featured in A Bountiful Heritage (coming out June 2015, published by the History Press) and on social media. So if you see us, wave, raise your glass, and say Salute!