Archive for September, 2012

Winery Visit – Vino Salida Wine Cellars

When I was growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was I Love Lucy, and who could forget the episode when she stomps the grapes?? While nowadays most wineries use machines to crush their grapes, Vino Salida Wine Cellars still carries on the tradition of using human feet to crush the grapes for their “Tenderfoot Stomp.”  Unfortunately I mixed up the dates and forgot to tell you about “9th annual Grape Stomp,” which was last weekend…so I suggest you put it on your calendar for September, 2013. The Merlot grapes that were crushed last weekend will be ready for release at the “10th annual Grape Stomp.”

The stomp and all the wines produced by Vino Salida is the vision of owner, Steve Flynn. Steve began his winemaking career at Mountain Spirits Winery, and after 4 years there, decided to create his own wine. Leaving his science and math background, he now relies on the arts and food to handcraft his artisan wines. Steve says, “For the past 3 years I have used more tasting, and create an ‘alcohol soup’ bringing in science to fine-tune the product.”  And he’s done an excellent job of producing dry table wines that complement the cuisine, especially food that is Italian and European inspired.

Steve’s newest venture is meads,  under the name of Bee Vino.  His 3 meads are a semi-sweet Traditional (currently available),  an Oak Mead, which he treats like an “oak driven Chardonnay” and a Sweet Mead (both available soon).  He has utilized the resources of a beer consultant to help with his “Hopped Mead,” available in the near future.

Vino Salida’s “Tasting Parlour” is based on a Victorian theme, since Salida boasts “the largest historic district of Victorian houses in the state of Colorado.”  While I missed telling you about the Grape Stomp, Vino Salida hosts several other events throughout the year. Their Thanksgiving and Christmas food and wine pairing dinners are coming up, so check out the details on their website.

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Wine Festival – The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

The place to be Saturday, September 29 or Sunday, September 3o is the Harvest Festival at The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey.  Wine, food and the arts will take center stage as this year’s harvest and grape crush are celebrated. There is no admission charge to Harvest Fest, and parking is free. The festival itself will be on the winery grounds in Cañon City – 3011 E. Hwy 50. Saturday’s hours are 10:00-6:00 and Sunday from 10:00-5:00.

Wine: enjoy sampling all 15 of the winery’s delicious wines…you can even purchase bottles to take home with you!

Food includes: a Mexican buffet from All Seasons Catering of Pueblo, crepes by A La Carte of Westcliffe, freshly baked breads and local cheeses and BBQ from Island Style BBQ. Colon Family Orchards will roast fresh chili peppers and sell home-grown produce.

Music includes: Blues, Spanish, Brazilian  jazz, rock-n-roll and Mariachi.

Artists and crafters: Ingrid Willard, who won the winery’s Harvest Fest 2012 art competition, will be on hand to autograph posters. Many other artists and crafters will have their wares on display to sell.

This year’s author, Paula Mitchell of Denver, Colorado, will be selling and autographing her most recent guidebook, Exploring Colorado Wineries. Paula has toured all the wineries in the book, and has a plethora of information about each one.

For the kids: (and adults, too!!) the Corn Maze, planted on 10 acres will be a fun time. Anyone who makes it through the maze can pick out a free pumpkin at the end. Jump-Around of Cañon City is hosting safe, affordable fun for the younger set. Hay rides around the Abbey property are also in the mix of fun entertainment.

For more information, call the winery directly at 1-877-HCA-WINE (877-422-9463) or send an email to

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Winery Visit – The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

If I were going to choose the most beautiful winery setting in Colorado, The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey would be in the top 3!! I wish I were a photographer, instead of a person with a camera, as my pictures to not do justice to the immense landscape and beauty of the Holy Cross Abbey, the grounds and the winery. I guess you will just have to go there and see for yourself….speaking of which, The Winery at HCA, has their annual Harvest Festival September 28-30 (more in another upcoming blog).

For all you history buffs, Holy Cross Abbey was founded in 1924 as a summer home for the Pope. Since that didn’t work out, The Abbey became a boy’s boarding school until 1985. Despite the school’s closing, the Abbey remained in operation as offices and housing for the monks until 2006. Today, there are guided tours on Saturday, self-guided tours during the week and accommodates for retreats, meetings and weddings.

So how did The Abbey get into the wine business? In 2001, the monks were interested in finding a way to support themselves during their advanced years. They contacted Sally Davidson and  Matt Cookson, who owned a custom olive crushing business in California, called The Olive Press, and asked them to be consultants for a potential winery operation. Many events took place between 2002 and 2005, including an exorcism, but to understand the exact truth, you will have to ask Sally personally! In 2005, Larry and Diane Oddo, needing to escape NYC after 9/11, became a financial partner, along with Sally. Since then, the winery has grown and expanded under their leadership and the expertise of winemaker, Matt Cookson.

The Winery at HCA produces 15 different wines, which are all gold medal winners and sell out every year! Need I say more?? Their grapes come from their own vineyard (Chardonnay, Riesling and Merlot), a prison in the area (22 acres producing 20-40 tons of grapes) and the Western Slope.

They just celebrated their 10th anniversary with the Holy Trinity: Revelation (a big, red Meritage), Jubilation (Reserved Cab and Merlot) and Divinity (a port-style wine). They produce exceptional, classic wines as well as numerous blends. Five different apple varietals compose their Apple Blossom wine. Their Wild Cañon Harvest is a blend of local growers’ grapes and is released every Thanksgiving, listing the names of the contributors. From sweet to dry, classics to blends, The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey has wine for everyone’s palate.

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Book Signing – St. Kathryn Cellars and Talon Winery

In addition to all the festivities during the Colorado Mountain Winefest, I will be doing a special book signing at St. Kathryn Cellars and Talon Winery on Sunday, September 16. I’ll be at their tasting room from 10 – 11:45 a.m.

If you are into fruit-based wines, St. Kathryn Cellars produces a wide variety…. from cherry to lavender. If you enjoy the more traditional wines, Talon Winery produces some awesome classic wines.

Stop on by to sample some of their delicious wines and grab a copy of my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries.

See you there!


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Wine Festival – Colorado Mountain Winefest

If you love wine, and Colorado wine in particular, there is no where else you should be but in Palisade this weekend!! The 21st annual Colorado Mountain Winefest is taking place on Saturday, September 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This is your opportunity to sample wine from 50 Colorado wineries. In addition to all the tastings, there will be live music, seminars, demonstrations and 45 various food, art and retail vendors.

I will also be there selling and signing my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries.

Its not too late to get tickets and hotel reservations. Click here to purchase your tickets.

Below is a picture of me enjoying last year’s festival!!

See you there!





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Winery Visit – Ciatano Winery

Where can you get a package deal that includes wine tasting, a bottle of wine, a spa treatment and a 1 night stay for two?? Ciatano Winery is the place! Located between Lyons and Estes Park on Hwy 36/66, the winery offers a variety of things to do. So let’s talk wine first.

The winery used to be a tasting room for several other Colorado wineries, but 8 years ago The Gibson Family decided to start selling their own wine. Their winemaker, Tim Merrick, who has 25 years of winemaking experience, crafts a variety of delicious wines. Tim also has his own winery, Zephyr Cellars, and his wines can be purchased at several liquor stores along the Front Range. Ciatano offers a vast assortment of whites, reds and two blends called Bianco Cambiani and Cambiani Rosso. Their grapes come from the Grand Valley and are trucked to their production facility at the winery.

A fun place to taste their wines, is in an old root cellar built into the side of the mountain that has been converted into a wine cellar (see picture below). But most people sample their wines at their main tasting room which overlooks their stocked fishing pond and the surrounding mountains. This is a great place to bring your kids and let them do some fishing while the adults enjoy Ciatano’s wines! If you are having too much fun and don’t want to leave, the “Rock N’ River” (as they call the entire spread) offers modern and rustic rooms. The 7 rooms are open year-round and all contain microwaves and refrigerators.

Additionally, the “Rock N’ River” offers spa treatments at their La Bellezza. Here you can relax during a massage, or have a facial, wrap or scrub. As you can see there is a lot to do at Ciatano Winery, whether you want to stop by for an hour on your way to Rocky Mountain National Park, or spend a night or two at the “Rock N’ River.”


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Winery Visit – Verso Cellars

If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, Verso Cellars is your winery! Owner and winemaker, Paul Phillips says, “I like Cabs so that’s why I only make that variety.” And for 10+ years he has been doing that exceptionally well. Paul began his operation by researching Cabernet grapes from nurseries all over the world, and discovered there are over 2,000 different Cab grape varieties. He wondered “what ones do I choose for my wine?” I must admit, that in listening to Paul tell me about the varieties, I was overwhelmed and fairly confused, so I give Paul a lot of credit to have figured this all out! But he did, and in 2001 he planted 6 different Cab clones in Orchard Mesa, and his journey began. In 2008 he sold his 2,200 vines on 15 acres, but the grapes for his wines still come from the orchard there.

Paul ages all his wine in French oak. For his production, he uses 1/3 new barrels, 1/3 one year old barrels and 1/3 two  year old barrels. A delicious “food wine” is Paul’s goal, and he lets the weather dictate what happens to the grapes, usually harvesting a few weeks later than many of the other growers.

In addition to making wine, Paul also teaches classes on cheese making. He makes an acid-based cheese (ricotta) and a rennet-based cheese (mozzarella). An acid-based cheese uses vinegar or lemon juice with milk, while a rennet-based cheese uses extracts from a cow’s stomach (there is also a vegetarian or plant-based rennet) to mix with milk. The mozzarella cheese making method gets involved with curds and whey and is a little more involved than making ricotta. You will have to take Paul’s class to learn all about it!

Verso Cellars is also part of Colorado Winery Row, which is located at 46th and Pecos in Denver (just off I-70). Together with the other wineries – Bonacquisti, Garfield Estates and Cottonwood Cellars, they are open for tasting Thursday through Saturday afternoons. They also hold several events during the year. On September 21 from 5-8 p.m. their monthly “Friday Uncorked” is happening, which features a local band, cuisine from various food trucks, and of course, wine tasting. I will be part of their festivities as well, and will be selling and signing my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries.


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Winery Visit – Mountain View Winery

For all you “multitaskers,” here is a place where you can taste wine, pick your own fruits and vegetables and shop, all at the same time! Mountain View Winery produces a large selection of wine that is made from their own grapes as well as fruit and vegetables from their farm and the surrounding area. As owner, Wendy Young says, “we make wine out of anything people bring us.” An interesting wine that was sold out within a few months was a Strawberry Rhubarb wine!! Their wines vary from whites to reds to fruit and dessert wines.

Winemaker and owner, Mike Young makes a large selection of the standard wines, but it is his blends and fruit wines that sets Mountain View apart from the others. As an example, their Uncomprahge is a blend of cherries and Merlot and their Ash Mesa is a blend of apple wine and Chardonnay. Not being a huge fan of fruit wines, I was very impressed with their Chokecherry Wine…made from 100% Colorado chokecherries.

In addition to growing a variety of grapes….Barbara, Pinot Noir and Riesling, that are all acclimated to the Olathe weather, the Youngs grow a variety of fruits and vegetables on their 40 acres of land that has been in their family for over 50 years. If you are so inclined, you can “pick your own” fruits and vegetables in addition to sampling wine. Their vineyard is organic and they use Nigerian Dwarf goats as a natural weed control in the vineyard. Wendy says they are voracious eaters and eat everything they can.

Mountain View Winery has 3 tasting rooms….one at their vineyard/production facility in Olathe, one at Red Mountain Ranches in Cedaredge and their new one at Brenda’s Boutique in Woodland Park. You can also sample and purchase their wines at Farmers Markets in Montrose, Ridgeway and Gunnison. For the shopaholics out there, the tasting room in Olathe offers a wide assortment of locally produced products.

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