Every once in a while, you stumble into a perfect place, and I found such a place at the Leroux Creek Inn & Vineyards in Hotchkiss, Colorado. Our stay there had just the right balance of sunlight, wine, food and good conversation.
Ryan and I arrived rather later than we had expected (read about that adventure here), and were driving up the long driveway as Yvon Gros was just getting off his tractor. He and his wife, Joanna Reckert Gilbert, have owned this purpose-built bed and breakfast, on 54-acres, since 2000.
We exited our car, road weary and excited to be at our final destination. A pair of what looked to be swans, but I later learned were Chinese geese, were doing a little dance on the large expanse of land between the house and the big pond, and I was itching to get a photograph.
Our Vista Room lived up to its name, providing sweeping views of the Leroux Creek Vineyards that unfold like a scene from a French film. However, to the west massive snowcapped mountains jut high into the clouds and to the east, pink mesas rise up from the dry earth. The property seems to be perfectly balanced in the spot where the Rocky Mountains rush down to meet Colorado’s Western Slope.
After a quick freshen up, we wandered downstairs and out onto the property. The sun was getting low in the sky and cloud formations were shifting every moment, brightening and darkening the pond. The water rippled and glittered as small wind gusts occasionally touched down on the surface.
May is an interesting weather month in Colorado, and you never know quite what you’ll get. The sun was shining now, but we’d driven through 16 snow storms on our way to Hotchkiss (and I’m not exaggerating).
We found Yvon in his wine cellar/tasting room, a genuine, underground cellar where I got to taste wine directly from the barrels, something I’d never done before. We tasted a variety of wines and talked about wine. We tasted his gold medal winning Chambourcin, a wonderful, approachable red made from a French/American hybrid grape that grows well in his vineyard. This is a wine I could drink every day, with almost any meal or just relaxing on the patio or next to the duck pond.
Eventually we ended up back outside, lawn chairs and a bottle of Chambourcin in hand. It was time for Yvon to feed his beloved ducks. Five ducks and the two Chinese geese eagerly waited for their evening meal, and they treated it like a buffet line. Yvon spread the food out on the shore and the ducks would hop out of the water on our right right, waddle through the food, shoveling it into their gullets, and then plop back into the water on our left, only to come back and do it all over again in a few minutes.
The sun set as we drank wine and shared travel tales and business stories with Yvon. The inn’s two corgis took turns warming my feet, as Noodle, the Labradoodle snoozed in the weeds behind us. We were having so much fun we barely noticed that the growing shadows had brought with them a wintery chill.
Soon, the darkness and cold drove us inside, where we told Yvon goodbye and headed into Hotchkiss (just a 10 minute drive) for a late dinner of pizza at PJ’s Neighborhood Pub. They have other (more fancy) stuff too, but we felt like pizza and it was delicious. Back at the inn we had a small nightcap of Apres Vous, Leroux Vineyards’ fabulous dessert wine and then fell into a deep, much needed slumber.
The next morning we wandered the vineyards with our coffee cups, the smell of damp earth filling our nostrils. It was the most delightful way to wake up.
Breakfast is our favorite part of staying at a bed and breakfast, and Yvon’s meal did not disappoint. His fantastic culinary skills are one major thing that set this inn apart. I can honestly say that I will likely dream of those farm fresh eggs over easy, sitting in a little tortilla and ham cups. Also, after this meal I decided that a baguette should be a mandatory part of every breakfast.
At breakfast we met co-owner, Joanna Reckert Gilbert, a former fashion designer, who now has a line of body products made from grapes and other natural ingredients. You can try them in your room. The four of us chatted about mushroom hunting (Yvon’s a pro), art and design (Ryan and Joanna had this in common) and France (a place I’ve always wanted to visit).
I was truly charmed by Leroux Creek Inn & Vineyards; charmed by everything, including our hosts. We can’t wait to go back one day, and are already considering it as a place to renew our wedding vows.
Whether you are looking for a wine experience, culinary adventure or you just want to sit and relax in the Western Colorado sunshine, Leroux Creek Inn & Vineyards will turn your daydreams into a reality. See more photos from this stay, here on Facebook.