We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley McGee and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?

I spoke to the owner of Palisade Pedi-Cab, Mark Williams and a winemaker at Plum Creek, Joe Flynn and they were both discussing how difficult it can be to find food at the wineries. From that discussion, I knew a charcuterie business would benefit these businesses by giving their guests the best experience possible, however I didn’t feel a connection to the idea, so I wavered on if I should go down this path.

After contemplating how I could expand on this idea and make it more of a networking opportunity for Palisade, I decided the charcuterie business would focus on local partners. From there I created “Taste of Palisade”. After this past year of Covid, there is nothing more important than to make sure small businesses are supported and show how much they are appreciated. If my charcuterie boards create a discussion about the other local partners in the area, that makes the experience in Palisade truly rooted and my customers will get a real sense of what Palisade has to offer. The wineries, the orchards, the cheese & butter makers, the events, the ciderhouse, the distillery, the brewery and the entrepreneurial spirit that is carried by all here, is what I love most about this special corner of the Western Slope.

When I get to support other small businesses by using their products like Ghost Rock Farm’s Cheese, Nana’s Fruit Jams from downtown, Blaine’s Farm produce and Clark Orchards, it makes it feel like one symbiotic circle, where everyone is recognized and receives business in one form or another. That’s what means the most to me in this venture – making sure the businesses I use on the boards and businesses I partner with, like the local Wineries & Spoke & Vine Motel, are highlighted and given proper credit for making Palisade what it is today.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

I am still currently employed by a hotel group in Aspen, Colorado as the Leisure Sales Manager. I handle our B2B partnerships for our hotel brand – Limelight Hotels. We have hotels in Aspen, Snowmass, Sun Valley, ID and soon enough, Mammoth, CA. I adore this position and the personal growth that has come with it. My mentor, Connie Power, has taught me everything I know about Sales & Marketing and how to be successful in this position. The position requires frequent international travel (in normal times), which I have always had a keen interest in. Traveling and meeting people from all cultures has provided a foundation for my beliefs and world views. It has opened my eyes to all cultures and made me feel like a global citizen, as opposed to only feeling like a U.S. citizen. Watching the impact my daily decisions have on the entire world has helped shape my beliefs and the decisions I make personally and as a business owner for Taste of Palisade.

Sustainability and zero waste are very important to me. I will not use any plastic items on the boards and avoid plastic use, as much as possible. I only use sustainable, recyclable items on the boards like palm leaf or bamboo products, which are compostable. The plastics industry is coming along very quickly with compostable products as well, but they are still a bit too expensive for a small business like mine. I compost any additional food waste and complete the cycle by giving that compost and food waste to a local farm. Luckily the majority of farmers in Palisade have the same approach towards using resources responsibly, so it was not difficult to find someone to work with.

I think what I am most proud of are the relationships that came from this venture already. I honestly could not ask for a better community to work with, as it feels like we are all working together on how to take the “Palisade Experience” to the next level, but keeping a keen eye on responsible & sustainable growth, when it comes to tourism.
I trust the leaders of Palisade to make the best decisions for this incredible town by always putting the needs of the small businesses, farmers & wineries first. I hope to grow Taste of Palisade even more in the upcoming season and am so thankful for the support from the local community already!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

DAY 1 – Stay at Blue Door Farm Rental on East Orchard Mesa
Wine Tasting for Day 1
FIRST: Peachfork Winery – best peach wine around!
SECOND: Mesa Parks Winery – enjoy all the tastings, sign up for their wine club and definitely buying some Rose to go!(and we will enjoy a Taste of Palisade board on their beautiful patio in the vines)
THIRD: Colteris Overlook – stunning views & wine
FOURTH – Restoration Vineyards for their amazing wine tasting offerings and listen to some live music on their beautiful outdoor lawn. Definitely joining their wine club too.
Last, we will visit Talbott’s Cider for my favorite wine spritzers on tap – Peachy Keen. Grabbing a pack of their new canned wine from Centennial Cellars on our way out!
For dinner, we will eat at Peach Street Distillery and enjoy their amazing wood fired pizza.

DAY 2 –
Stay at Spoke & Vine Motel in downtown Palisade
Book a private cellar tasting tour with Wine Maker Joe Flynn from Plum Creek Distillers
Late Lunch at the Palisade Cafe
Walk around downtown and shop at locals shops like Nana’s Fruit & Jam Shack and Blue Pig Gallery
Rent bikes from Rapid Creek Cycles and head to Red Fox Cellars for a few of their unique & specialty cocktails
Lastly, we will definitely head to Vitner’s Collective to enjoy their own Ghostdance Rose, while enjoying the perfect view of Mt Garfield from their back patio. This is THE spot that everyone hits to round out a great day of wine tasting!
For dinner, back to Spoke & Vine Motel for the hosted food truck and enjoy their outdoor patio with Aperol Spritz!

DAY 3
Stay at Spoke & Vine Motel
Wake up to a lovely breakfast offered by Spoke & Vine
Get ready for the BEST DAY EVER with Palisade Pedi-Cab Tour
Palisade Pedicab picks us up at the motel and takes us to all the hotspots
BookCliff Winery – views for days
Sauvage Spectrum – where we will buy multiple bottles of SPARKLET and go on their “Walk through the Vines” tour.
Then onto Maison Belle for their beautiful outdoor area and amazing wine
Round out the tour at the Peach Street Distillery,
After a fun day touring around, we can’t wait to hit Peche in downtown Palisade and enjoy their amazing, seasonal menu.

DAY 4
Stay at the Palisade Beach House in downtown
Grab a bite from Slice O Life Bakery for breakfast
Today we go on a paddleboard tour with Paddleboard Adventure Company in downtown Palisade.
After a relaxing day on the river, we decide to eat at the Palisade Beach House because they offer very cool & unique experiences for the guests.
After that, it’s off to enjoy the best local bar in town – The Livery.

Day 5
I will ask my friends to leave because I am tired.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I would like to give a HUGE shout out to Laura Mercier at The Grand Junction Business Incubator and Pastor Tony Abbot at First Baptist Church in Palisade.

Laura has been an incredible mentor for me. She helped guide me through the path of owning my own business and made sure my business was in line with all of the qualifications necessary from Mesa County Board of Health. I highly recommend the Business Incubator for any small business just starting out. They support all businesses, not just food related business.

And I have so much appreciation for Pastor Tony Abbott and his leadership team at First Baptist Church in Palisade. They have truly been a “game-changer” for my small business and not sure if I would survive my first year without their generosity. True angels supporting Taste of Palisade!

Website: www.tasteofpalisade.com

Instagram: @tasteofpalisade

Facebook: @tasteofpalisade

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