By Ted Skroback, Reporter

Harvest season is in full swing for wineries which means its time again for the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey to create its Wild Cañon Harvest. The Abbey Winery in Cañon City gets the community together in a unique way to offer a unique type of wine. The winery buys local growers grapes, mixing them into what they call the Wild Cañon Harvest.

Last year’s Southern Colorado grape harvest took a big hit with an early freeze. The 2016 harvest is a different story, “this year the exact opposite,” said Jeff Stultz, Abbey Winery’s Head Winemaker, “everything is just popping and we’re getting overwhelmed with fruit coming in.”

Stultz has been part of the Wild Cañon Harvest since it’s start in 2002. The Abbey Winery opens its doors to any local growers, as long as you pass a sugar test. “Last year there was over 20 varieties of grapes that went into the wine, we take the white grapes, the red grapes, the purple grapes, we just blend them all together and just make this beautiful local product,” said Stultz.

The winery will purchase grapes for 50 cents a pound and $1,000 a ton. You can sell a little or a lot, which adds you to the list on the bottle called the wild bunch.”We’ll have little old ladies, and I hate to use that term but it’s so true, they can barely lift a five gallon bucket full of grapes. Bringing us grapes to sell so they can get their name on the back of the bottle,” said Stultz.

Wine connoisseurs visiting the tasting room say this is a unique idea.”I’ve drank my fare share of wine over the years, said Charles Reinhardt who was taking in wine tasting, “but I’ve not heard of that kind of blending of grapes.”

The Cañon City area is known for its fruit growing for over a century, Stultz says some residents that bring in grapes aren’t even sure how personal vines have stayed alive and thrived for so many years. “There’s so much history that comes in that I get to listen to everyday this time of year. It’s just flat out fun,” Stultz.

The winery will be testing and buying fruit through the end of September. It normally takes the winery six tons of grapes to create a wine. In two weeks they’ve crushed over 14 tons and expect a total of over 30 tons of grapes for the Wild Cañon Harvest mix.