Agritourism: Wine Grapes and Hops
Those who know me have heard me talk many times about my obsession with “Agritourism”. Agritourism or agrotourism, as it is defined most broadly, involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. Agritourism has different definitions in different parts of the world, and sometimes refers specifically to farm stays, as in Italy. Elsewhere, agritourism includes a wide variety of activities, including buying produce direct from a farm stand, navigating a corn maze, slopping hogs, picking fruit, feeding animals, or staying at a B&B on a farm.
Agritourism is widespread in the United States. Agritourists can choose from a wide range of activities that include picking fruits and vegetables, riding horses, tasting honey, learning about wine and cheesemaking, or shopping in farm gift shops and farm stands for local and regional produce or hand-crafted gifts. Agritourism is BIG BUSINESS in Colorado, especially on the Western Slope where vineyards and orchards are commonplace.
For me Agritourism is about learning where our food comes from and how it get from the fields to our tables, documenting it through photographs. This past weekend, I spent time in Palisade and Grand Junction Colorado, and area known for its fruit orchards and wine making operations. Those who follow me on social media and here on the blog, know that I visit this area several times a year. This trip I had a very specific mission, to capture images of wine grapes in the stage of multi-colors between green and purple, or ripe. The Palisade area is buzzing with activity these days, because the harvest is in full swing. Apricots came 1st in early July, Peaches and Plums in August, Wine Grapes, Apples and Pears in September. So there are lots of things going on in this region right now. As you can see from the images in this post, that my timing was right on the money! It’s just about a month before wine grape harvest and the Colorado Mountain Winefest, Colorado’s largest and oldest wine festival. The kiss of colors Mother Nature gives to the wine grapes was nothing short of spectacular!
A newer player to valley is the growth and production of hops for brewing beer. Several years ago when visiting this area in search of Colorado lavender, I spotted this strange plant growing up strings about 20 feet high and arranged in tight rows. After asking several locals about what those plants were, I learned the plants on the string were hops. Fast forward 4 years and the Palisade Organic Hop Farm has grown by leaps and bounds. They are growing several varieties of hops and supplying their harvest to Colorado Native Lager Beer and MillerCoors Companies. I had the opportunity to spend about an hour at the farm, photographing the plants and some of the workers harvesting and separating the hops from the leaves. I think hops is a great addition to the Palisade family, so move over wine, beer is here!
My visit to the valley was a short one this time, and we did visit many of our usual stops Fuller Orchards, Carlson Vineyards, Clark Family Orchards, Palisade Organic Hop Farm, Grand River Valley Vineyards, as well as many others. A very special thanks to Fuller Orchards for their kindness and generosity for allowing us to photograph their peaches and pears, as well as sending us home with a large box of freshly picked Colorado Peaches. A big thank you to Carlson Vineyards for allowing us on property to photograph their red and white wine grapes, as well of their gorgeous view of the vineyard and Mt. Garfield. And finally, a special thank you to the Clark Family Orchards for taking time to chat with us about their operations and allowing us to photograph their gorgeous produce at their roadside fruit stand along Highway 6.
Cheers from behind the camera,
PS. This is a SPECIAL NOTE TO PHOTOGRAPHERS, who are interested in photographing this area. PLEASE ASK FOR PERMISSION to take pictures on property!! All of these orchards, farms and vineyards are PRIVATE PROPERTY, so please be courteous and stop in the office to ask permission FIRST to photograph, BEFORE you start snapping away. Most of the owners in the valley are really friendly and ecstatic to share knowledge of their operations and bounty with anyone who asks. BUT REMEMBER – ASK FIRST!