Fall Sunday: Best Fall Date

Fall Sunday: Best Fall Date

The gift certificate sounded like a good thing to bid on at the time: a farm lunch at Sutcliffe Vineyard with a wine tasting. How romantic, I thought, as I scribbled my name down on the bid sheet. The night was still young at the Chocolate Lover’s Fling, and who knew what I would actually end up with by the end of the night. My bids were low. But when a phone call the ¬†next day confirmed that I had indeed won the tasting (as well as some other really random items!), the reality set in: How would Andy and I actually be able to find the time to drive to Cortez and spend the day drinking wine?Sutcliffe

Finding the kid care was surprisingly easy: some friends offered to take our girls for the entire day. Planning the day was another matter. We couldn’t just drink wine all day. And even if we could, we still had to drive home that afternoon. It didn’t seem right to drink without playing first, especially since Andy and I were celebrating our 11th anniversary and playing outside was what had brought us together. No, we decided, if we got the whole day, it had to include some sort of adventure to go along with the wine. What we discovered was so perfect, we’ve decided to make it an annual voyage. (Only next time, if we get even luckier with the kid coverage, we might just spend the night.) Here’s what we did:

biking Phil's World1. Phil’s World: There’s a reason this mountain biking destination in Cortez gets the hype that it does. Phil’s network of trails, full of loops and hops, has enough “yahoo” factor to bring out the kid in anyone. Most of the trails are beginner/ intermediate, but there’s enough play to keep the experts happy. We rode the classic Rib Cage Trail, which has the best drops. We even picked up one of our riding buddies, not surprising given that Phil’s World is Telluride’s unofficial playground as soon as the snow starts flying in town. Park at the trailhead and follow the crowds. Trails are well marked.

2. Sutcliffe Vineyard: After a quick wetwipe wipe down and parking lot change (hey, I warned you, we’re grungy Colorado College dirtbags at heart), we headed out to the vineyard. In contrast to the fun Phil’s World mayhem, we arrived at the vineyard and discovered we had the place to ourselves. We sat on the patio where we were treated to cool zucchini sald, roasted chicken, and grilled polenta, each dish carefully paired with a Sutcliffe wine. Rebecca Ward, who was the chef that day, but who also helps to manage the vineyard, carefully explained the layers in each wine (which my science husband adored) and gave us a tour of the farm. I can be a bit dismissive of local wine, but Sutcliffe, as I had discovered earlier when some friends brought it to dinner–hence then impulsive wine tour bid– is about as far from typical local “gift” wine as California Napas are form box wines. Sutcliffe is good, so good, in fact, that when it was time to go, we found we weren’t ready to leave the wine or the experience and popped a half-case of its finest into our Subaru to bust out on special occasions.

What we didn’t do (but will next time): 3. Canyon of the Ancients: This guest ranch, just a few miles down form Sutcliffe, seems like the perfect place to crash after a day of mountain biking and drinking wine. Rooms start at $165/ nt. Larger houses available for groups. All-organic produce and grass-few beef served at the lodge.

But I’ll give the full report, when Andy and I return next year….

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