Story Pitch: The Royal Gorge Region: An Agricultural Hub of Colorado, Then and Now

Harvest season is around the corner and what better time to write an article about one of Colorado’s richest and most historically significant agricultural areas—the Royal Gorge Region.

The Arkansas River and its streams provided sources of early irrigation, facilitating the growth of Colorado’s oldest apple orchards and grapevines planted by local Italian families in the 1860s. In addition to a plentiful supply of water, the area’s elevation, climate, sheltering hills, and tillable soil provided a good setting for orchards, farms, ranches, and other agricultural enterprises.

In the early settlement days, local markets serviced Colorado mining camps, such as Cripple Creek, and nearby cities, like Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Denver. According to a 1920 report, Fremont County had 687 orchards covering 5,688 acres of apple, cherry, pear, apricot, plum, and peach trees.

Beyond shaping land development and sales, agriculture was part of the daily lives of residents as many had small orchards or gardens that produced fruit, berries, and other crops for seasonal sale as supplemental income.

Today, the tradition has been revived in a sort of agricultural renaissance, with many residents growing grapes and gardens in the backyards. And thanks to a recent county-wide zoning change, easing the process for those wanting to start a winery or cidery on smaller farms, these businesses are growing at a fast rate.

Sitting on over 200 gorgeous acres and set against the stunning backdrop of the Royal Gorge Region, The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey is a leader in the region’s agricultural renaissance, A Gothic Revival monastery turned winery, The Abbey Winery has been in operation since 2002, churning out award-winning wines and winning “2019 Winery of the Year” by the Colorado Association of Viticulture and Enology (CAVE) for its achievements and support of the Colorado wine industry.

If we’ve piqued your interest and you would like to write a piece about the historical and contemporary agricultural movements in the Royal Gorge Region, we would be happy to connect you with the owner of the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, as well as other agricultural business leaders in the region.

Want to visit the winery? Let us know and we’ll arrange a VIP tasting and in-person interviews.