The I-70 closure and its impact on Grand Valley wineries

According to winery owners, a temporary closure should not have a major effect on business
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 9:22 PM MDT
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PALISADE, Colo. (KJCT) - With I-70 through Glenwood Canyon closed, some businesses may be seeing fewer customers from the Front Range walk through their doors.

Business owners in the Grand Valley wine industry say that they are making the most of the situation. They also explained that they can handle a temporary closure on I-70, but prolonged closures are a different story.

There was a full parking lot at Carlson Vineyards on Monday afternoon. Owner Garrett Portra said that over the weekend, though, things were slower than usual. “Overall, it’s kind of one of those things like anything in wine. We’re fortunate to be in agriculture which means you roll with the punches and keep going.”

One aspect of the closure that may actually be helping local wineries better counter the lack of tourists: getting to the Front Range is more difficult for Western Slope residents. According to Portra, building inroads with the local customer base pays off in situations like this. Varaison Vineyards and Winery is also seeing a good amount of local customers stop by at the moment.

Owner Alex West explained that, “We do an event every Friday night called ‘Firepit Friday,’ where we do wood-fired pizza by the slice, wine by the glass, and wine-based cocktails. And it’s really been driven more as a tourist event, but this last weekend, we saw quite a few more locals come out because they knew that there were going to be fewer tourists in town.”

West says he is focused on the opportunity in front of him, and is not too worried at this time. Portra shared his view that tourist-dependent industries can run into difficulties when faced with uncertainty. According to him, “So I think the uncertainty has maybe slowed down a few folks. Like I said, it’s nice having the locals come out but I think it’s, as of now, it’s hard to tell. I think this weekend it showed that it slowed a little bit. Only time will tell how much it actually affects us.”

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