Archive for the ‘Wineries and Travel – Pikes Peak Region’ Category

A New Tasting Room in Colorado

There is a new tasting room that just opened up in Colorado!! It’s called Two Brothers Vineyards Tasting Room and is located in Black Forest. For those of you not familiar with Black Forest or remember the devastating fire that ravaged the area, it is located between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs. The exact address is 6755 Shoup Road 80908. Hours are Thursday through Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. Other times, please call ahead at 719-495-7340.

Owners of Black Forest Meadery, Adam and Shawna Shapiro, have created this tasting room enabling you to sample meads, ciders, and wines all at the same location. What a great idea! I have been encouraging people to sample meads and ciders from Colorado as they are NOT the sweet, fermented beverages you find sold commercially in liquor stores. Black Forest Meadery has available 4 of their meads…..Forest Mead, Mead in the Woods, Melody in the Woods, and Wildfire, which vary from semi-sweet to dry.

Colorado Cider Company, whose production facility and tasting room are located at 2650 W. 2nd Avenue in Denver and Ten Bears Winery, located in LaPorte just northwest of Ft. Collins, round out your experience at the tasting room. They are offering 5 flights for $6, which includes your choice of 2 meads, 2 wines, and 1 cider. You can also purchase any of these beverages by the glass or bottle. For my Facebook and website friends, the tasting room is offering a special “buy one, get one free” offer. Just tell them Paula or Exploring Colorado Wineries sent you to receive the discount.

The tasting room has patio seating where you can watch the sun set over the mountains while enjoying your beverage. You can also bring in your own food or order food from a nearby restaurant. I encourage you to stop by Two Brothers Vineyards Tasting Room soon!! As their theme says….”Buzz by for a taste in the trees.”

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Catriona Cellars – Winery Visit

For Woody and Catherine Woodworth, owners of Catriona Cellars, it’s all about “love and balance.” In fact they even have a marble statue out front of the winery emphasizing that viewpoint. It is that attitude that started them on their journey 20+ years ago when they opened a garden center in historic downtown Monument. Did you even know that Monument has a historic downtown area?? You should stop by for a visit!! About 15 years ago Woody began sourcing grapes from California to make wine for personal use and also began teaching classes as part of his homebrew shop for beer and wine making. If you have ever met Woody, you know that for him it is all about “the passion” and “following your dream.”

But after a while Catherine wasn’t following “the dream” of the garden center anymore and told Woody to turn his hobby into something more….so Catriona Cellars was born! After 2 years of planning, designing, re-designing, obtaining custom-made items, and turning a garden center into a winery, an incredible establishment was built. Here you can sample Catriona’s delicious 9 wines at their tasting bar, have lunch or dinner inside or on the patio and shop in the gift store.

But let’s talk about the wine! For Woody, it’s all about blending wine together to apply his passion and creative side into making delicious wines for the people. He uses both the California and Bordeaux philosophies of blending wines to make his own blends. During Catriona’s inaugural year 7 wines received 9 awards at the Colorado State Fair, including Best of Show Overall! Their top seller is “Orchard White,” an off-dry Riesling, and their Moscato is blended with Palisade peaches. They have both a sweet and dry Rosé. Their second biggest seller is the Cellar Reserve Red Limited, which is a blend of Malbec, Syrah, Cab and Merlot. An interesting note is that Woody uses Italian Chestnut barrels for his barrel select blends….I didn’t think anything but oak was ever used for barrel fermenting and aging!

A unique dining experience is called “The Chef’s Table” and is held in Catriona’s rebuilt and restored cellar. Chef Jonny prepares a special 5-course meal that is paired with Catriona’s wine. The table seats up to 10 and the cost is $75 per person.

The winery’s future includes 5 new wines being created this year, so the next time you are driving along I-25, take a ½ mile detour at the Monument exit and visit Catriona Cellars….you will be glad you stopped!

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Winery Visit – Black Forest Meadery

What is a fermented beverage that is older than wine and is said to date back to the Vikings? If you answered “mead” you would be correct. Mead is neither a wine nor a beer, but rather its own beverage whose main ingredients are honey, water and yeast. I had the privilege to visit with Adam and Shawna Shapiro, owners of Black Forest Meadery, and they gave me the 411 on mead production. (By the way, if you haven’t visited the Black Forest area since the fire, its amazing to see the devastation!!)

Since honey is the critical ingredient in mead, lets start there. The Shapiros are proud that their honey is 100% Colorado and obtain it from 2 local producers. Honey, and therefore the eventual mead, is totally affected by where the bees gather their pollen. Clover-based honey is actually lighter and makes sweeter meads. Bees “hanging out” in wildflowers provide a different flavor in the honey and usually a dryer style mead. Adam said his mead “is a local drink, from local producers and offers a taste of Colorado in each bottle.”

There are two fermentation cycles. The first is the primary fermentation where yeast is added to the water and honey. In addition to the type of honey used, the type of yeast used also influences the mead’s taste. Secondary fermentation occurs as the mead sits in stainless steel tanks for 2-3 weeks. The Shapiro’s do not filter their meads so they “re-rack” the mead (changing it from one tank to another) to remove the sediment. Black Forest ages their meads for about 9 months, although you can age it for 3-4 months and then bottle it.

Black Forest makes 4 different meads… Their “Forest” and “Woods” are dry and their “Merry Chokeberry” and “Melody” are sweet. Over the next few years they plan to incorporate fruit meads into their line, using peaches, plums and cherries from their own orchards. Black Forest is a family owned and operated meadery as well as a small farm where they raise animals and have an orchard and vineyard. Their label depicts their property and includes their sentiments of “enjoy [their meads] with friends and quality sunsets.”

To taste and enjoy their meads you basically have 3 options….stop by their tasting room, which originally was a church, Thursday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. (they ask you to call ahead), at the Colorado Farm & Arts Market in Colorado Springs and at various wine festivals. So open up your mind and palate to a different taste experience and try a mead soon!

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Manitou Springs Wine Festival

The place to be this Saturday, June 1 is the Manitou Springs Wine Festival. Here’s an opportunity to sample wine from 25 of Colorado’s wineries, all for the low price of $30. In addition to wine tasting there will be vendors selling wine-related merchandise and  delicious food. I’ll be there selling and signing my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries for a discounted price, and can also answer questions you might have about Colorado’s 105 wineries.

The event is held in Memorial Park, located just east of downtown Manitou Springs from 11:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Come join the fun this Saturday!

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Winery Visit – “The Tasting Rooms of Woodland Park”

If you are looking for something to do, or a place to take your family, friends or guests this holiday season….look no further than Woodland Park!! Actually its a great place to visit any time of the year. Woodland Park is a quick 20 minute drive west of Colorado Springs on Hwy 24, and has some of the best views of Pikes Peak. The town has a 4 block long historical district and tons of places for shopping. But the best part is, it houses tasting rooms for 7 Colorado wineries…what a perfect place to combine 2 fun things to do!!

I’ll be blogging about each of the 7 shops and the wineries they pour for, but in this blog I’m giving you a listing of each store and who they pour for.

So take time out of your busy holiday schedule and spend a few hours sampling wine and touring around Woodland Park. You’ll be glad you did!!

Here is a listing of the shops and their winery…just click on the name and you will be taken to their own website.

Cowbells Gifts & the Deer Snake Gallery / Cottonwood Cellars & Olathe Winery

Mountain Rains Gallery & Gifts / Dithyramb Winery

Seven Arrow Gallery / Turquoise Mesa Winery

Studio West Salon / Le Fuselier Winery

The Cellar Door / Aspen Peak Cellars

Vintage Vines /pending

Windows of Heaven / Ten Bears Winery


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Winery Visit – Mountain Spirit Winery

Do you ever wonder how a winery chooses its label(s)? I do, because they are all so different, and some seem to catch our eye more quickly than others. In my opinion, Mountain Spirit Winery has one of the most beautiful labels! (see picture below). This Angel Blush label appears on their best selling wine, actually a fruit/grape blend that contains apple, pear and raspberry. Owners, Mike and Terry Barkett were the first winery in Colorado to produce a grape and fruit blended wine. This has now caught on, and several other wineries are producing this type of blend. Mountain Spirit uses no flavorings in their fruit wines, using only real fruit to blend with the grapes.

Mountain Spirit Winery was the 13th winery to open in Colorado – back in 1995. Mike and Terry received assistance and encouragement  from many people, most notably was Jim Seewald, who was a pioneer in the early Colorado wine industry. Even though the Barketts have been producing wine for years, they still have their “day jobs” – Mike as a practicing surgeon and after 8 years, former President of the State Board of Health and Terry has changed her career in the computer science/lab technician area for managing the Mountain Spirit Gallery and tasting room in Salida.

I asked Mike what would be the 3 words to describe his wine operation, and he said, “Cleanliness, sterility and high quality.”  I guess Mike and Terry’s clinical backgrounds are brought into their winemaking art!  When the Barketts built their winery just north of Salida, they were the only ones with temperature controlled fermenting. This enables them to control each tank’s temperature to keep fermentation below 60 degrees, which allows for slower fermentation. Mountain Spirit Winery sits on 5-acres of farmland, and includes fruit orchards and an old homestead house. The surrounding 14,000′ mountains offer incredible views.

Stop by their winery to sample their wines, which have won over 50 national and international awards.

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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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Tasting Room Visit – Wines of Colorado

So who has the largest selection of Colorado wines available for purchase?? Without a doubt that is Wines of Colorado! Located on Hwy 24 in Cascade, which is just west of Manitou Springs, the store sits at the entrance to the Pikes Peak road and Santa’s Workshop. While the liquor license for Wines of Colorado is held by Minturn Cellars, the store carries wine from just about every Colorado winery, and has been in business since 1998.

Their tasting room is unique in the fact that you can sample wines from a variety of Colorado wineries. You can also purchase a glass of any wine for $5.95. If you want to purchase a bottle and drink it while you dine at their restaurant, there is no uncorking fee. Speaking of their restaurant, they have a wonderful menu specializing in buffalo burgers, lasagne and meatloaf, and also feature a wine burger. They have a relaxing indoor sitting area as well as an outdoor area right by the creek. Wines of Colorado has won numerous awards for both its food and dining experiences.

Besides being able to purchase a variety of wines from Colorado, the store also has a vast selection of wine-related products for your home or for gifts.

Owner Marv Parliament has a unique story to tell, and Wines of Colorado’s website says it better than I can…click here to be linked to his story.

A stop at Wines of Colorado can fulfill many needs…sampling a variety of Colorado wines, purchasing Colorado wines, enjoying a delicious meal, keeping the kids happy at Santa’s Workshop and driving to the top of Pikes Peak (may be best to drive to the top PRIOR to sampling wine!!)

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