The fertile Arkansas River Valley east of the Royal Gorge has long been known for its farms. Grapes, however, have been a particular specialty of the region as Italian immigrants who came to work in the mines planted grapevines in pre-Prohibition days. Likewise, Colorado’s oldest orchards were planted here, including the first apple tree which had been brought across the Great Plains in Oxcarts.
Today. small vineyards and orchards are again popping up throughout the Royal Gorge Region, paving the way for the area’s burgeoning wine and cider industry.
While The Winery at Holy Cross has long been the flagship winery in the region, an October 2019 zoning change has made it easier for small farms in residential agricultural areas to open a limited winery or cidery.
Thus began the buzz around the Fremont County Wine Trail, a collection of several local wineries and cideries, all of which sell their bottles locally, and many that offer on-location tastings.
Wine and cider makers in the Royal Gorge Region are not competitive with one another but rather help each other out, sharing tips and advice and sometimes equipment. This not only lends to the community feeling of the Fremont County Wine Trail, but also the possibility that more wineries and cideries will join the list.
Local residents are joining in the efforts by growing grapes and apples on their own property. These growers sell their grapes and apples to the wineries and cideries, helping them use as much locally grown produce as possible. The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, for example, makes an annual Wild Cañon Harvest wine blended from grapes purchased from as many as 100 growers in the Royal Gorge Region.
Take the Fremont County Wine Trail for yourself and discover Colorado’s next wine country. Wineries and Cideries in the region include:
The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey
3011 US-50, Cañon City | 719-276-5191 | website
Pop’s Vineyard | website
1704 Willow St., Canon City | 719-210-7971 | website
Western Skies Winery at Jenkins Farms
448 K St, Penrose | 719-240-2737 | website
Apple Valley Cider Co.
103 Broadway #13, Penrose | (719) 315-1155 | website