On a sunny side street in Monument’s historic district sits a building that once housed the town’s first jail (capacity: four). Today, it’s less Old West and more Old World with a gracious flagstone courtyard, an enticing bruschetta menu and the smell of fermented grapes wafting on the breeze.
Catriona Cellars is the epicenter of a thriving community of oenophiles that spans pro vintners and amateurs, Western Slope and Front Range, locals and tourists. “We make wine for the people; that’s what we’re all about,” says owner Woody Woodworth. His winemaking philosophy incorporates crowd-pleasing infusions, tradition-bucking blends and a healthy dose of DIY.
“The whole idea is to make a wine that doesn’t taste like somebody else’s wine,” Woodworth explains. In-house, he does this by fermenting his California grapes over Colorado cherries, barreling wines in Italian chestnut wood and creating unconventional concoctions like a zinfandel-syrah aged in a Spring 44 Bourbon cask inherited from Rock Bottom Brewery. The bouquet is yeasty, dark and fruity with a mischievous bourbon kick. The whole thing feels somehow wrong—but not that wrong.
To a public well-versed in creative brewing—pumpkin peach ale, anyone?—Catriona wines are one more adventure in craft spirits, points out chief cellar rat Bill Beagle: “Making beer and wine is a culinary art where the possibilities are endless.”
Why limit yourself? “So many people purchase wine by label,” Woodworth says. “What happens is they recognize a certain style, like an Australian shiraz or a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, so they’re looking for that [flavor profile] even at our winery. So we have to upset the apple cart.”
One of his favorite palate-expanding tricks is to uncork three varietals—say, a merlot, a cabernet and a syrah—and invite drinkers to mix the three according to their own taste.
“That way anybody can blend their own style. I think that’s important to have a little differentiation. I’m a little different anyway,” Woodworth says with a wink.
Looking for a special date or a celebration for 10? Reserve the Chef’s Table, where you’ll find a five-course feast, paired with the perfect wines, in the cozy Cellar Room.
There’s still a frontier spirit hanging around Catriona’s “cave,” where Woodworth keeps a few small grape presses for his coterie of home vintners. Each fall, he cuts them in on his grape order from Lodi, California, and he stocks winemaking supplies year-round in the retail space attached to the tasting room. That space used to be Monument’s feed store and garden supply, but as the town grew, so did Woodworth’s vision.
“The community was ready for something like this,” he says. “The feed and garden store was a really fun business to run, but there were better things to do. And the passion really was all about the wine.”
For more information visit catrionacellars.com.
by Claire Swinford