Wine and peaches

Harvest summer flavors in Colorado's Grand Valley
Lora J. Finnegan

What's a sink peach? It's any peach that's so juicy, you have to stand over the sink to eat it. "We grow a lot of peaches like that here," says Jessie Jacobs, a longtime grower and owner of Valley Fruit Stand in Palisade, Colorado.

Gaze at the stark, arid countryside around Palisade, and you might find it hard to believe anything as delicate as a peach can grow here. This high, unforgiving land, called the Grand Valley, is bisected by the Colorado River and stretches from tiny Palisade ― where most of the orchards and vineyards are ― west through Grand Junction.

"It's a challenging place to farm," admits Jacobs, in a bit of an understatement. Altitude is about 5,000 feet, so killing frosts and harsh winter weather are a challenge. Rainfall levels are pitifully low (6 to 9 inches annually), forcing farms to rely on irrigation.

Yet despite the obstacles, a benevolent combination of abundant sunshine and Colorado River water produces a bounty of peaches, apples, apricots, cherries, pears, plums, and wine grapes. The harvest season peaks in August; stands brim with not only fresh fruits but also dried fruits, jams, pies, and tarts.

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