Opening a new 80-room Wine Country Inn in the vineyards of Palisade, Colorado, began with an invitation from Steve Smith, owner of Grande River Vineyards, to build a hotel somewhere near his winery.
After extensive touring in California’s wine country, Richard and Jean Tally came home with a wealth of photos, ideas and hope. But the timing was not right, so the plan was put on the back burner for a decade. Over the years, the Tallys continued to travel and dream.
“There were so many good ideas everywhere we went, we took notes, talked to people and made lots of pictures,” explains Richard. “We were especially impressed with the Summer Wood Inn (formerly the Arbor Inn) and Justin Winery in Paso Robles, the new Santa Ynez Inn and Gainey Winery in Santa Ynez, Fess Parker’s Inn and winery in Los Olivos and the Cheshire Cat Bed and Breakfast in Santa Barbara.”
There were other standouts, including the new Talley Winery (no relation) in the Arroyo Grande Valley. They were impressed with how well the Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo handled groups and marketed their property online. John Ash & Company Restaurant and the Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa were highlights of an earlier trip.
But it probably was the flavor of the simple Victorian farmhouse architecture in Napa and Sonoma that prompted them to wonder aloud why the same sort of melding of history, agriculture, wines, food and lodging wouldn’t work in Colorado’s fledgling wine country.
“We always thought that the same kinds of operations that worked in California could work in Palisade. It just seemed like the perfect fit,” says Jean.
Finally, the Fates smiled on the project. Steve Smith put up his vineyards and winery for auction and in October 2006, the Tallys bought up 7 ½ acres of vines adjacent to Grande River Winery. This time obstacles were overcome, cooperation was extended by government entities, and the Tally family broke ground on August 28, 2007. Since then, the Tallys have acquired 13 more acres of vines west of the original tract. Ironically, Steve Smith kept his winery and will press the grapes and bottle wine for the Wine Country Inn label.
As for the hotel, the Victorian-feel of the architecture was intentional. The Tallys wanted the buildings to look like they belong in Palisade. To honor the local heritage, the family has restored historial photos of area residents and activities and used them throughout the complex.
The architect calls the style “farmhouse vernacular.” The buildings imitate the clusters of farmhouse, barn and out-buildings of that era. He points to wrap-around porches, gables and wood siding as typical design elements.
Building Colorado’s first wine-themed hotel is a family affair. Participation of their adult children, Anne and Greg, at the ground-breaking made the event even more meaningful.
“Two generations of Tallys will shepherd this project,” Richard observes. “We are strictly a Mom and Pop operation, so it is great to have our children helping us.”
As Greg pointed out in his opening remarks at the ceremony, this is not the first time Tallys have been involved in lodging or agriculture in Palisade.
“I wish we could say that we were the first Tallys in Palisade to own a hotel or participate in the local viticulture. But to our surprise and delight, we found out that some of our distant relatives preceded us,” he explains.
“My great-great grandfather Fred and his brother David Daniel Tally were born in Red Rock, Texas. David Daniel had a son who moved away, first to West Texas, then to New Mexico and finally to Palisade, where he owned a motor-court hotel in the 1940s. That building still stands just west of the Post Office on Third Street.”
Somewhere in the transition from Texas to Palisade, the spelling of the name changed, but cousins still live in Palisade and the Grand Valley.
Things have come full circle.