“We’re crushing grapes to make wine, every year we’re having Harvest Festival, every year we’re putting out a catalog, every year we’re creating great menus to go with our wines, every year we’re entering competitions,” she said. “It’s always something different.”
Davidson, the winery’s marketing director, has been with the Abbey for the past 15 years. In that time, she’s started festivals, helped renovate the winery’s tasting room and handled the facility’s communications.
And Wednesdays, Davidson drives along the Front Range, helping deliver wine to towns across Colorado with other winery employees.
But today’s busy schedule at the winery is much different from when monks at the Holy Cross Abbey, adjacent to the winery, first started producing wine in the 1920s.
“The monks would make wine every year,” Davidson said, but when it was converted to an all-boys’ school, they discontinued production.
“They deemed that inappropriate because the boys were so good at getting into things,” Davidson said. “So, that’s when the wine-making stopped.”
It wasn’t until the late 1990s when production started again at the Abbey, after a local priest offered the grounds as a place to grow grapes. Today, the grounds have a production facility, gift shop, tasting room and vineyards.
“The winery today is significant to Cañon City,” Davidson said, adding that it has a strong base in the community.
Larry Oddo, the winery’s owner, said the facility has grown significantly through the years.
When his family first moved to Cañon City from New York City in 2005, the winery was producing 3,000 barrels of wine each year. Today, he said, it produces 10,000.
As the wine moves through production with winemaker Jeff Stultz, the facility regularly produces around 15 wines.
“I think it’s a gem in Fremont County,” Oddo said. “People should know they have this in their own backyard.”
In addition to wine tasting and participating in several events throughout the year, the winery also has a wine-tasting club, the Congregation. Davidson said they throw regular parties for the club.
The winery also stays busy during the holidays, she said, adding that “by January, this store looks like it’s been through a fire.”
So, they start all over again, attending gift shows to restock the gift shop.
“You kind of have to know the territory to make good decisions that fit with the people,” she said.
And with years of experience and a busy schedule, Davidson knows the territory. When she moved to Fremont County from Sonoma, Calif., in 2001, she brought years of training at St. Francis Winery and Niebaum-Coppola Winery and a love of wine with her.
“Everybody that comes in here is happy,” she said. “Wine makes people happy. It makes people join together in their happiness. That’s what I love about wine.”
Sara Knuth: 719-276-7644, firstname.lastname@example.org