Connected to the Land
Stone Cottage Cellars is a family business and an ongoing labor of love. Our adventure started in 1994 with a goal of leaving the corporate world and beginning a new and sustainable chapter in our lives where we could raise our family in a rural community, connected to the land. Our mission led us to the North Fork Valley, and our passion for wines led to the opportunity to purchase one of the highest elevation vineyards anywhere in the world.
Being “connected” is something we bargained for. Little did we know what that would actually involve – how hands-on our new life would be! We hand built Stone Cottage Cellars from the ground up, “stone by stone”. Wine cellar. Tasting room. The Stone Cottage. And now, even our family home. Our vision will never be complete, but our lives are more fulfilled.
Warm days, cool nights, family, friends, and good food. Here in the mountains, it’s all about the lifestyle. In the shadow of towering peaks that have been standing for millennia, with your hands immersed in the dirt, time seems to fall away, giving way to a deeper connection with the land, the people, and the place. Stone Cottage Cellars is founded on this mountain way of life.
Our family is the center of everything we do and the foundation of every wine we make. From bantering across the rows in the vineyard as we prune the vines, to singing together in the cellar while bottling, creating fine Colorado wines is our family’s lifestyle. For the past 21 years, we have built Stone Cottage Cellars from the ground up, from hand-laying the first stones for the original stone cottage to bottling the latest vintage of Merlot. Grandparents have helped with cabinetry and recipes, and friends have arrived en masse to harvest the grapes before an imminent frost.
We work together, play together, and enjoy the lifestyle of the restful mountains – together. Join us. Pull up a chair. Drink in the mountain views. Give Gibbs, our resident “wine dog” a scratch behind the ear. Sip a glass of crisp high-altitude wine while savoring the rustle of the breeze in the cottonwoods and the soft babble of the creek. Then carry a piece of our mountains home to your kitchen and create a locally-sourced meal of food and wine to share. Take some time to experience the serenity and serendipity of mountain life – which we think pairs wonderfully with a glass of Stone Cottage Cellars Chardonnay.
Sameness is the enemy of fine wine. Consistency in quality, yes. Remaining true to type, possibly. But, sameness year in and year out belongs to soda pop, not to fine wine. We believe that wine should carry with it the imprint from whence it came. The soil, the elevation, the slope, the varietal, the clone, the season, the choices in the vineyard, at crush and in the cellar, all contribute to create the liquid beneath the cork.
The great American composer, George Gershwin, at one point in his career felt the need to improve his skills by studying under the great French composer Maurice Ravel. When approached, and after some contemplation, Ravel to his credit, refused, querying, “ Why would you wish to be a second rate Ravel when you are a first rate Gershwin?” Similarly, why would you wish manipulate Colorado grapes to make a second rate Chablis, a second rate California Merlot, or a second rate Oregon Pinot Noir, when you could make a first rate Colorado Chardonnay, Merlot or Pinot Noir? Mimicry abandons most of what makes a fine wine, well … fine.
With sustainably farmed vineyards situated between 4500 ft and 6500 ft in elevation, the wines crafted at Stone Cottage Cellars exhibit a crispness, vitality, and minerality that reflect the Colorado mountains visible from the cellar door. Yes, our Chardonnay tastes like Chardonnay should, our Merlot tastes like Merlot should and our Pinot Noir tastes like Pinot Noir should, but with distinctly Colorado nuance.
While wine is refreshing and pleasant on its own, it is first and foremost a complement to a meal, at its best, a meal shared with family and friends. In the Old World, wine and food in any given region grew up and matured together. A specific breed of pork in Alsace pairs perfectly with Alsatian Gewürztraminer. Italian marinara or bolognese pairs best with Chianti, Barolo or Sangiovese. In the New World, local cuisine was often created by the melding of multiple immigrant cultures and then, alas, evolved without the benefit of an accompanying glass of wine. The balance of acidity and tannin in wine is a welcome complement to the oils, proteins, fats and flavors of a well-prepared dish.
Vineyards at some of the highest altitudes in the world give us grapes with crisp acidity and intense flavor. In the cellar we strive to preserve these characters as we move from crush to bottle. This makes the wines from Stone Cottage Cellars the ideal complement your afternoon or evening meal. For a uniquely satisfying experience of local cuisine paired with local wine, try our Chardonnay with Colorado Kokanee salmon, our Pinot Noir with mountain-foraged chanterelles, our Merlot with Colorado elk, our Pinot Gris with Rocky Mountain trout or our Alpine Dessert Wine with fresh Paonia peaches.
Our interaction with our environment, our community, our guests, the people we work with, and, especially, the land we care for should be sustainable and equitable. The sentiment, often attributed to essayist Wendell Berry, that we should act as a man “who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children,” captures our feeling for the land we are caring for.
A land “well used” should improve, not degrade, as a result of our activity. With this in mind we use no herbicide, preferring the more difficult and expensive option of mechanical cultivation and hand-weeding. Our fertilizers are largely gleaned from neighboring sheep flocks or horse and cow herds. We foster diverse cover crops to maintain a balance between pest and predator. Additions to these practices, when needed, are always organic and low impact.
Our family and friends are also often our employees, working the vines, harvesting, or bottling wine. We try to compensate our help at nearly twice the minimum wage. We support our local community with donations, referrals, fundraisers, and many other activities. Our farm and winery buildings are constructed from stone cleared from the vineyard itself supplemented by locally-harvested lumber. While we do not pursue Organic or Biodynamic certification, all of are actions are taken so as to avoid harm to anyone and leave our community richer for our efforts, people rewarded for having met us, and the land better than we received it.