Mc Elmo Canyon and it’s Winery:Destination Sutcliff Vineyards

Winters grip is upon us here in Colorado and the temperatures it seems are often lately in the single digits.   The tree’s are stark and barren and there is a foot or so of snow on the ground.  It’s cold and outside not much warmth to be found.   I intended to write this during the summer months but it never came to fruition.  So I sit in the warmth of our home nestled close to the fire as I pull the fleece coverlet over my toes.

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As I sit here and enjoy the warmth I find myself dreaming of wine and decide to pour myself a glass of the nice Cab Franc that was sent in my shipment of wine.Its my 3rd shipment that I have received.   Enjoying the taste I find myself reminiscing of my visit to Mc Elmo’s Sutcliff Vineyards.

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Situated in the backdrop of Ancient Canyons and the Sleeping Ute Mountain of Colorado you will find this little gem.

Roughly 36 acres of Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot are grown. The vineyards produce what wine that is what I have heard described as handcrafted in an old world style.   This is not your large scale winery but a vineyard and winery created and developed with the careful and meticulous eye of it’s owner.

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With a passion only others dream about you will find the owner John Sutcliff the winery’s namesake.  When he speaks it is with such emotion and his desire for you to understand his dream is felt.  He lives it, breaths, it and loves it and it is part of him and he is part of it.  We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of wine tasting and conversation with this interesting gentleman.

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From his welsh roots to his history of working in some of the finest restaurants he can be at times mesmerizing.   He explains the history of the wine he makes and how it was not always this palatable.  It was only when he brought in a winemaker by the name of Joe Buckle the beauty of Sutcliff Vineyards was released to full potential.  Creating the wines they have today.

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They wines are simply wonderful and influenced with the uniqueness of the Ancient Canyons and the winemakers themselves.  It’s almost as if the Canyon has produced wines that are handcrafted with the spirit of west.

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Not all the wines produced at Sutcliff Vineyards are developed from the canyon grapes.  Some outsourcing is done and the choices are meticulously done to compliment Sutcliff’s unique style.

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Throughout the summer various events happen at the winery and on a summer afternoon the drive is lovely.  It is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon.  For those who would enjoy a meal.  Call and schedule ahead and you will enjoy afternoon of delightful cuisine from locally sources items paired with delicious wine of course.   Oh and take friends because wine is always better with friends.

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If you are visiting Southwestern Colorado, take a moment and visit Sutcliff Vineyards make a afternoon of it.   You can really spend more than an afternoon in the area.  From Mc Elmo Canyon and it’s winery’s to Mesa Verde National Park the area is filled with not only incredible beauty but with the history of the Southwest.   We have excellent Jeep trails, hiking trails, and wonderful fishing.

Come visit I would love to show you around.  As always if you need help booking a hotel, trip, or anything else I am available.   Or you can do it yourself with my booking site at TravelwithT.mtravel.com which is how I fund my blogging.

Cheers and I hope to see you at Sutcliff Vineyards and Southwest Colorado.!

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Silverton where the “Old West” meets “Jeeping”

 

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Part cowboy, part mining, part recreation, part old west and spectacular beauty is what you will find in Silverton, Colorado. It is a blend of the old mining, cowboy southwest and off road recreational but they do it wonderfully.

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It’s where the 100% Coal fired Steam train still pulls up with visitors daily in the summer months. We decided a visit over one weekend and this would allow us to discover some of the sights in our own backyard here in Colorado.

Our new RV Lifestyle gives us the opportunity to do more being we are not tied to a house and all that goes with it.  We have cut down on all of the things we had to do and find we have a lot more free time.  Nothing better in my opinion.  We still work full time and we live in our Redwood 5th wheel full time too.  We are on our way to retirement but not quite there yet.  We are working towards 2 years maybe sooner maybe longer.

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Silverton is definitely ideal for the tourist who visit and it caters to that crowd. The buildings are still in your late 1800’s to early 1900’s facades. The once infamous Blair street which at one time hosted the underbelly of the town, and was reported to have 29 saloons and houses of ill repute now houses restaurants, candy stores, and hotels.

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We stayed at the beautiful Grand Imperial Hotel which is a classic 1900’s style hotel, it is really like walking back in time. We had a corner room and there is no air-conditioning but you really don’t need it. The bed I thought was the least appealing aspect.  I felt like it was left over from the 1900’s as it was hard as rock, and to complement it you had pillows that were also hard as a brick. Not good for the luxury minimalist in me. The hotel looked like it needed a little facelift as the room wall paper was peeling. Yet, it did add to the atmosphere of the whole thing.  I would not hesitate to book with them again but I would ask for better pillows, that would have made the hard bed easier to accept.

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Where Silverton shines in my opinion is its closeness and access to its off road areas. They are some of the finest Colorado has to offer. Here you will find the young and the old traversing these mountain trails. You could go back every weekend over summer and most likely not see everything. We managed to make it over to Hurricane pass and Corkscrew trail. We got to experience some amazing beauty and both my husband Paul and I thought we should take a weekend and camp up there by one of the Alpine lakes.  I cover the Jeeping aspect in more depth in “the man way the woman way Jeeping”.

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The weakest part of the town of Silverton is its food. Overpriced and nothing spectacular. So I guess you are paying for them to hall it over the mountain and then the ambiance of the place. I can say though that the best meal I had all weekend was at a little place called the Brown Bear Café where we had breakfast. I ordered a short stack of the banana pancakes. Let me tell you the short stack could feed and army. It was most excellent and the side of bacon was delicious.   Coffee was awful but hey I will take that being they hit the ball out of the park with the pancakes.

They were busy and the service was friendly and would be interested in trying lunch there.  They might just be better than what I saw and experienced through the rest of the town.

Silverton is a must see for visitors to this area, stay and experience the old west and of course of you would like to book a stay please by all means use my book site http://www.travelwitht.mtravel.com.  Better yet give me a call and I will help you.  There are various time period hotels in the area.

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The man way the woman way: Jeeping the Southwest

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Colorful Colorado lives up to its name here in the Southwest.   It has not only spectacular beauty but the best and most incredible jeep trails.  In the southwestern range you will find anywhere from 9,000 to 14,000 ft trails and they are definitely not for the faint of heart. If you have angina or heart trouble make sure you have your meds.

Being the newbies my husband and I thought we would give them a try.  I mean why not right.  So the 2 middle age jeepers head up the mountain and travel up like they are pros.

The woman way is purchase my books, and scour all the blogs looking at which trails to try first.  To locate the correct trails use my gps or garmin and map out all the roads I need to follow.  I mean you see how well that worked with the RV parking right?

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The mans way get in and go.  Don’t look at anything, just drive the jeep up the mountain.  It’s a jeep, there is a mountain, lets go.  There might have even been a grunt or two in there somewhere.

So being the wonderfully considerate wife that I am.  I forgo my woman way, books, trails ect and I jump on board with the man way.  I am flexible like that.  Jumping into the jeep we head towards the mountain we were off hair blowing in the wind (well mine anyways).

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Our route was through Gladstone past the Durango mine incident and straight up towards Hurricane Pass.  We managed to make it quite far before even having to really place it into four wheel drive.   So the two newbies wait until it is really necessary to place it in 4wd and of course it is on a switchback next to a ledge drop off.  I mean really you really don’t need to worry right?

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Well maybe not if you have driven the pass or even bothered to look it up but why do we need to do that?  So for about what seemed like 10 minutes right before we had to break the jeep book out, to make sure we were doing it right, on the switchback, on the ledge with a 12,000 ft drop down, with the wife trying not to utter a word, we get it in gear.

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I have to say being on the side of a 12,000 to 14,000 foot drop barely wide enough for your vehicle to fit makes you think and wonder (for a catholic)  man I hope I made a good confession.  A couple of times we stated to each other, we are way to old for this crap and the words no sooner coming out of our mouth and we pass a couple in there 70’s.  So not to be out done by the old folks we forge on.

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At times having to maneuver the jeep around other jeeps trying to get up the same mountain with a sheer drop off and really only space for 1 jeep.  Talk about adrenalin!  I would say this is definitely enough of a pump for an adventure junkie.

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The jeeping trails in Colorado are fantastic and whether you do it the man way or the woman way you are sure to get not only a great view but a great ride.   Most of our big trails don’t open up until around June or July due to snow pack and then close sometime in October usually again for snow pack.

I would love for you to come visit my home state and it’s incredible hiking and jeeping trails.  So if your making a weekend trip or longer from out of the area and if you need a place to stay please use my website booking link or go to travelwitht.mtravel.com.  It’s how I make a living on my blog.  If you book anywhere I post about let’s say a hotel I make a little money.  In Silverton I have Teller House listed. All the hotels in the area are period style places and reminiscent of the old west.   They are a classic way to stay the night and enjoy what the little town has to offer.  Especially since these beautiful trails are right by the area.

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Please check out our future travel and let me know if you want to join us.  After all the blog is TravelwithT.net.  Happy Day!

The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

Holy Cross1a  “Wine to me is passion, its family and friends.  It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.”, by Robert Mondavi “Harvest of Joy”.    This passion is tucked away in a peacefully serene place which was once host to a Benedictine Monastery.  It’s not Sonoma or in other well-known area of wines and wineries.  It happens to be situated in the backdrop of the always spectacular Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

If you are in Canon City and if by chance you see the large beautiful Gothic Revival style building before you reach the main part of town take a moment and stop in.   It’s The Holy Cross Abbey.   The abbey was a once a vibrant community of Benedictine’s a monastic order of the Catholic Church.  The monks arrived in the late 1800’s when it was still frontier territory. They established a community and founded a boy’s home.  The community there lasted for roughly 100 years throughout various hardships, growth, and finally, dissolution.  It is now the home of The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey.

Holy Cross 2In the beginning there were only two monks, but as the community grew so did the grounds and of course the Abbey was built.   It fell into a little financial trouble during the depression era.  It then came under the care of an abbot who helped to restore its financial situation.  The boy’s home at its height housed roughly 250 young men.  They came from all over the US and the world.  The thriving community was at its height during the 50’s and 60’s and then started a gradual decline.

Holy Cross 3In the 2000’s, there were about 20 monks left in the community, mostly elderly.   It is during this time that they founded an effort to provide income for themselves with an idea of planting a vineyard.  They enlisted the help of a viticulturist for the production and then began producing wine the following year.  The Benedictines opened The Winery at Holy Cross Abby with winemaker Matt Cookson.   Not long after the abbey was sold to businessman Larry Oddo from the East Coast.   The monks were resettled in other communities although Cookson remained as the winemaker.

It is here in the backdrop of monastic history and nestled next to the Wet Mountains, you will find The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey of today. What was started by the Monks was brought to fruition by the winery.  The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey was originally started in July, 2002, and then went through transition to private ownership.  Today it is a vibrant little winery.

The winery currently makes about 12,000 cases of wine per year.  It still provides some financial returns for the monks who are paid for their initial vision and investments.   Most of the fruit is purchased from the Western Slope of Colorado and some from Washington and California.  A unique side note, though not surprising, is the purchase of grapes from a prison.  The monks just followed a long history of Catholic tradition with its work in prison ministry programs.    The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey developed a partnership with the Colorado Department of Corrections (CCI) Juniper Valley Farms in 2002.  Part of of this program was the growing of grapes.  This is not new to corrections, its agricultural practices began all the way back in 1874.   It was set up as part of a program called Colorado Territorial Penitentiary inmate work program.  Today it is reported that more than  130 years after the fact, CCI’s agricultural activities include dairies, farmlands, fisheries, goats, green houses, honey processing, recycling, and of course vineyards.  The Winery at Holy Cross is the programs largest buyer to this day.

On the grounds of the abbey you will find a little building off to the left.  It is here the winery has its tasting room.  This beautiful little tasting room is filled with many things to catch the eye and wet the taste buds.  The tasting room is open daily.  The staff is excellent and most wines can be tasted complimentary.  The reserve, which are some of the finest have a cost of one dollar to taste.  They also offer a VIP wine and cheese tasting in the park, or my favorite, the tasting room terrace and the fee is 25.00 per person.  This option needs to be reserved in advance.

The winery gets a wide variety of visitors, locals and numerous people coming through from out of the area.  During my visit I managed to catch a Marine who was visiting with his wife.  My husband is retired from the Marine Corps so I am always on the look out to thank those who have served.  Semper Fi!

You can find those Marines everywhere
You can find those Marines everywhere

Shopping in the tasting room is a kaleidoscope of colors that remind you of Provence and Italy.  Your senses are swept away by the exquisite wine you are tasting as well as the relaxing atmosphere of the tasting room.  Both times I have been in the spring and weather has been beautiful but they do have a fireplace for the winter months.

What did I end up with?  The 2012 Colorado Revelation.  An excellent full bodied red Bordeaux style wine.   The wine is aged in new American oak for 22 months and the winery reports it is one of the “biggest red wines they have ever made”.   The winery suggest it needs some cellar time and you should enjoy it with a nice big steak.   I will definitely have to try that.

Besides the winery and the tasting room there is a gift shop and tours are available of the Abbey.  The annual Harvest Festival is held the last week of September.  It celebrates with wine of course and the year’s grape harvest.  Music, food, and the arts are all part of the celebration.

From its humble beginnings as a monastic community, to the inception of the Abbey, to the first grapes planted and pressed The Winery at Holy Cross is a unique and colorful part of the landscape of Colorado.  Whether you are a history buff, a tourist, or a wine enthusiast you will enjoy The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey.  The Passion of family and friends and spirit of generosity lives on at The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey.  If you stop by tell them “Travel with T” sent you.