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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Traveling through Baja California:Destination Ensenada Wineries

 

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Wineries in obscure places that are completely out of the way are my favorite.   I happened to be spending a little time around Ensenada when I found out they have wineries.  Ensenada is in Baja, California a long time destination for Southern Calif weekend vacationers.  I had been there several times and never made it past the Buffaladora, the restaurants and the bars.  I really never took a moment to discover they offer so much more.

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To my delight, I discovered they housed several local wineries.  In the valleys of San Vicente, Santo Tomas and Guadalupe is what is refereed to as the wine growing region of Baja California.  Just about 90% of Mexico’s table wines come out of this region.  Including Bodegas de Santo Tomas, founded in 1888.

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It appears that much of the Baja peninsula has a semi-desert climate.  You only have to drive through to notice this.  Yet, in Ensenada’s region there is a cold marine current, providing a Mediterranean climate, and it is ideal for growing wine grapes here.  Ensenada has warm summers and mild winters, and many sunny days with cool nights especially during the growing season.  I have learned that every wine growing area tends to produce a style of wine unique to there region.

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Many of the wines in this region have obtained international recognition, and are even exported to Europe, the United States, and Canada.  It’s really an amazing little place right down the southern coast.   We happened on it by chance really.  We were on a Princess Cruise and it was listed as one of the excursions.  So I was like wine yeah I am on top of it.   Drug the husband along and could not have had a better trip.

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We got a chance to visit 3 of the wineries in the area  La Casa Dona Lupe  and L.A. Cetto use old-world methods, and we came to learn that both have become pioneers in Mexico’s wine development.    Both wineries have been plying their craft for hundreds of years and are highly respected for their expertise in the production of sherry, wine and brandy. Oh and in case you think you are going away empty handed you are given a souvenir wine bottle as a gift to take with you.   Visit and winery and then get a bottle of free wine can’t beat that.

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All in all a great little one day trip if you are visiting the area and one of the best excursions we have been on.  Simplistic yet wonderful and FREE wine.  dona lupe wine 1

This is the lovely Dona Lupe who has been running her winery for quite some time.  She was gracious enough to pose for a picture.

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The cruise itself was traveling to Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and it’s final leg of the journey was Ensenada.  I would love to help you take a journey to visit Ensenada’s winery’s either on a cruise or on your own.   TravelwithT.mtravel.com

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Traveling the Colorado Highways: Destination Mountain Spirit Winery

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This remote quaint little winery can be located outside of Salida. Don’t blink though because you might miss it. It’s a little boutique winery that is well known for their blends of wine. They feature things like Blackberry Chardonnay, Raspberry Merlot, and Blackberry Cabernet Franc. They also have a tasting room in town but we did not make that.

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Nested in the picturesque country adjacent to the Upper Arkansas River Valley it’s on 5 acres of Colorado beauty and surrounded by 14,000 foot mountain vistas.

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I had been driving from The Winery at Holy Cross Abby  when I stumbled across this Colorado beauty.   Colorado is not new to the wine industry as it’s been around for over 100 years. Unfortunately around Prohibition most of the vineyards were uprooted and replanted with orchards.   Yet building on Colorado’s fine tradition new winemakers, and vineyards have returned and blossomed into some of Colorado finest wineries.   Colorado is known for its majestic mountains and valley’s we are blessed with warm days (in the summer) and cool nights (in the summer) otherwise freezing. Of course you can’t forget our zero humidity being we are about 6800 ft elevation on average. So it’s with this climate and fertile soil new growers and winemakers like Mountain Spirit have emerged.

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To drive to Mountain Spirit is an adventure in beauty itself as its situated as you travel along the Arkansas River. The drive down the dirt road to the winery is truly beautiful. The grounds are unassuming and the entrance tends to be on the minimalistic side. Upon entrance, the tasting area is just a small little area as you walk in.   Again very simplistic.   There is no charge for the wine tasting, which is always a nice treat and appeals to my luxury minimalist. The gentleman was very nice, and very knowledgeable not only about the product but wine itself.

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I tried several varieties and most tend to be on the sweeter side. Especially of course those blended with various fruits all grown in Colorado. Bright, crisp, refreshing are some of the words I would use to describe these fruit blends. I chose to go home with the 2013 Angel blush, a nice slightly sweet wine with notes of apple, pear, and raspberry. I think it was close to a White Zinfandel. Pair it with my favorite Mexican food and you are well on your way to a delightful time. I mean really the destination is the journey and the journey is always better with wine. Right?

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Wine….Wine…Wine…Destination; Casa Rondena Winery, Albuquerque, NM

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Wine Wine Wine,

My travel preferences seem to draw me to churches and WINE.    Hey, I am Catholic so this works well.   They go together you know.  Thank goodness I am not Baptist I would miss all the good wine, and margaritas and such.

So this trip to Albuquerque, NM was no different.  I decided to make a journey through Albuquerque wineries and one of our first stops was Casa Rondena.

If you Google the list of wineries in NM you can get a pretty good plan on where and how far you want to travel to see them. We chose our locations by how close they were to our traveling center which was Albuquerque.

The winery itself is in the outskirts of Albuquerque but not far at all. You go through what seems to be ranch land and or larger properties. The drive itself is fairly scenic.  Not too far out and easy access really.

When approaching Casa Rondena you are presented with fantastic scenery. As the property it sits on is extremely manicured and well done. It’s not surprising weddings are popular here.

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In the middle of a desert you have a this little Southwest oasis. Which is just what we where looking for. The small vineyard that they have on sight is right next to the tasting room You are able to spend time walking the vineyard as well as the property for as long as you like.

It’s a good thing not too many people were around outside when we were looking.  They would have seen this crazy lady trying to take blog worthy pics hanging off several walls and such.  Not too mention trying to walk into the private club they had on the estate.  Only for the select club members.  Of which I am not.

The winery grows its own grapes as well as purchases grapes from the surrounding New Mexico area.  The vineyard on the property itself is very small.  I could not locate a source to tell me if they use those grapes for the wine or not.  It was still coming out of winter when we were there.  So the vines were still barren of leaves.

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Inside is a good size bar area where the wine tasting is done. If you walk through that area you are able to sit in the large lounge area. The lounge and outside area are expansive and you can sit anywhere and enjoy a glass of wine.

The vintner John Calvin has been selected best vintner for 4 years running in Albuquerque.  He spent some time in Spain and developed an appreciation for music, wine, and architecture.  It is all apparent in every aspect of the winery.  His love for the arts bleeds into not only the style of the winery but the wines themselves.  Handcrafted to achieve a beautiful balance and without adding sucrose as most in the New Mexico wine making business do.

His nose and taste has paid off in some fine wines.  I tried several of the reds.  The one I enjoyed the most was Cabernet Franc – The original red wine of the Loire Valley in France, Cabernet Franc grows well here in New Mexico. It exhibits fruit-forward flavors of blackberries, dark cherry and earthiness while being medium bodied and soft on the finish.

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The whole place is beautiful and we would not hesitate to go again.  I promise not to try and get into the private club now that I know it’s private.

While traveling through the southwest look for these little boutique wineries they are true gems.  Make sure to tell them that Travel with T sent you.   Need help booking let me know or even just to say hi.

Maybe I will see you on one of my ventures.  I would love to share a glass with you.  Cheers!!!!!

Traveling the Desert Highway: Destination Alcantara Vineyards and Winery

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Arid, dry, and barren are some of the ideas that come to mind when you think of the desert.   As you drive through Cottonwood for the very first time nothing spectacular seems to catch your eye.   It is not the beauty of the red rock mountains of somewhere like Sedona.  Yet, it is not the barren landscape of somewhere like 29 Palms either.  It’s somewhat in between and its here just outside of Cottonwood you will find, a little Italian or Spanish inspired Villa which is home to Alcantara Vineyards and Winery.  A picturesque, piece of artistry in an otherwise barren, desert area.

A dirt road to wine

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Situated in what is know as the Verde Valley this little gem of a winery is at the confluence of two rivers the Verde and the Oak Creek.  Not far from the popular, trendy, and incredibly beautiful Sedona.   Alcantara is one of the largest vineyards in Central and Northern Arizona. Very unassuming, with a laid back style, and with wine that is every bit as surprising as the area it is grown in.  I once heard that wine must suffer on the vine to be good and I am guessing that in 100 degree temperatures it is doing some suffering.

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It is the brain child of Barbara Predmore the owner, she states “the rocky limestone soil and sunny climate in the Verde Valley is very similar to the wine making regions of France and Italy and after two years of experimentation the results are everything we hoped for and then some.”  I can only imagine she is only talking soil as temps here can be well over 100 plus degrees in the summer.  She does back up her statement though with some wonderful wines.  Some of Alcantara wines are medal winners and from my own pleasant experience very good.

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Now, I am not a wine connoisseur or professional of any sort.  I just enjoy a good wine and I have to say I enjoyed the 2013 Petite Sirah.  It contains notes of black  currants, blackberries, black  pepper, and leather it is a Silver Medal  Winner at  the  Fingerlakes  International Wine  Competition.

Alcantara is not the only winery in the area but the only one we had a chance to stop in that afternoon.  We were greeted by a nice woman Kerry who explained how everything worked.  They do have a tasting fee but you are allowed to take home a glass unfortunately empty.  For 15.00 you are presented with your stem styled wine glass and a tasting of 5 of their wines.  You are able to choose your preference.  I am not much of a white wine drinker so I made my choice from the reds.  I also ordered an nicely presented appetizer plate of cheeses, breads, and olives.  A perfect snack before an afternoon lunch we were having in Sedona.

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When we arrived at around one we were the only people there.  When we left close to 3 the place was starting to fill up.  If you have a chance to pop in on your way the Sedona it is a perfect break from your Phoenix drive.  A pleasant afternoon day trip or if you have some time you can do the wine trail.  I hope to be going back soon, perhaps I will see you.  As always the Destination is part of the discovery and it’s always better with wine.

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