Friday, October 4, 2013

Riding the Cañon City wine train

Posted by on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Last weekend, we were the comped guests of The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, who were holding their annual Winemaker's Dinner for the first time in conjunction with the Royal Gorge Route Railroad

The dinner was just one part of the Harvest Fest weekend, which included lots of live music on the winery grounds; book, poster and bottle signings; and of course, vino galore. 

On the train, we were treated to eight, wine-paired courses, a couple of which are pictured and described below. Of those wines, some were quite special, such as the 2010 Colorado Syrah, of which only 405 cases were produced. 

Principal owner of the winery since late 2005, Larry Oddo, says that of the five competitions that particular wine was entered into, it earned three separate double-gold medals, including a best-of-class nod. 

Though the 2013 Colorado Governor's Cup and Jerry Mead New World International Wine Competition were nice to pull awards from, Oddo says he's most proud of the Taster's Guild International Wine Competition recognition because "it's not just wine critics judging — it's restaurateurs and sommeliers — it's like the People's Choice award versus the Academy Award ... and we're going against a lot of the top U.S. wineries." 

Plus, he notes that the fight to prove to the nation and world that Colorado-produced wine can be fantastic is never-ending. Though, he concedes, some of the problem is we're "shooting ourselves in the foot with over 100 wineries but only about a dozen that treat them like real businesses ... for every great one, there's three to four middling, and people buy them at a cheap price point and think that that's the entire Colorado wine industry."

For their part, the Abbey produced around 11,000 cases of wine this past year, down a couple thousand cases from pre-recession days. They were also impacted by the Royal Gorge Fire back in June — usually one of the winery's busiest sales months in the tasting room. 

But no cloud of that difficulty hung over the scenic wine-train ride on Friday evening. Take a look for yourself:

click to enlarge Warm, cozy quarters for an eight-course wine dinner. And yes, there was a blessing. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Warm, cozy quarters for an eight-course wine dinner. And yes, there was a blessing.
click to enlarge The Abbey's excellent 2012 Monterey Chardonnay. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Abbey's excellent 2012 Monterey Chardonnay.
click to enlarge Dinner with a view. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Dinner with a view.
click to enlarge This year's lovely Harvest Fest art design on display next to a shrimp and scallop ceviche plated with pineapple pico de gallo and lemongrass. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • This year's lovely Harvest Fest art design on display next to a shrimp and scallop ceviche plated with pineapple pico de gallo and lemongrass.
click to enlarge Buffalo Carpaccio with balsamic glacé, capers and fried leeks. Paired brilliantly with the 2011 Colorado Cabernet Franc — our personal favorite wine of the evening. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Buffalo Carpaccio with balsamic glacé, capers and fried leeks. Paired brilliantly with the 2011 Colorado Cabernet Franc — our personal favorite wine of the evening.

click to enlarge And another lovely view, riverside. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • And another lovely view, riverside.

Oddo says the train's owners were in attendance and "over the moon" with the whole evening, calling it "by-far the most special evening they've had on the train." All of which is to say you can likely expect next year's Winemaker's Dinner to be riding the rails once again. A fine wine pairing has been made. 

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