We had the good fortune of connecting with Jayme Henderson and Steve Steese and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jayme & Steve, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Both of us were desperately searching for a more creative outlet to our lives for many years, while we lived in Denver. We knew that hospitality was in our blood, but we also knew that opening a restaurant was not the option for the two of us. We toyed around with many iterations of wine bars, cocktail lounges, and even wine shops for years before we seriously started discussing the idea of purchasing a vineyard.
Although we had each spent many years in the study of wine, neither of us had either worked in a vineyard or for a winery as a career before. Over the course of over a decade of wine travels, our discussions after coming home slowly shifted from the pie-eyed discussions about this mystical topic, to discussions that would often end with some version of the phrase, “We could totally do that.” We are both dreamers by nature, and once the idea truly permeated that the dream of owning a vineyard and operating a winery, we dove in wholeheartedly.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The Storm Cellar is truly a husband-and-wife collaboration. Our business is the manifestation of our two unique stories coming together. We do virtually every single aspect of the project together, from farming the grapes, to making the wine. Social media, accounting, marketing, and design are all aspects of the business that we share together. It is rare for two people to come together with such a singular vision. We are so often amazed by how similarly our tastes align on so many levels.
We strive to bring our backgrounds and stories into every aspect of The Storm Cellar. This project is not just about wine. It is about hospitality, it is about this amazing valley that we live and farm in, and it is about Colorado, as a state that loves to embrace its local producers. It is a rare moment at a winery that your server at a dinner is also the owner and winemaker, but we immerse ourselves in every aspect of this endeavor.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The North Fork Valley and the West Elks AVA wine region are centered around the towns of Hotchkiss and Paonia, just over four hours west of Denver. This valley is the center of organic agriculture in Colorado, and a day spent here would certainly focus on the local producers. Wineries, small family-run farms, and fruit stands dot the entire valley, and the owners are always ready to show you around and sample the fruits of their labor.
A trip out to the North Fork wouldn’t be complete without enjoying the majestic scenery of the region, as well. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison offers breathtaking vistas, as does the West Elk Wilderness around the Needle Rock outcropping. World-class mountain biking and fly-fishing opportunites are some of the other hidden gems of the area.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We wouldn’t be where we are today, if it weren’t for the collective community within our local wine trail. The winemakers within the West Elks AVA (American Viticultural Area), many of whom have been making wine for over 25 years, have paved the way for new winemakers and farmers like us to grow grapes, make wine, and continue to elevate our unique valley. https://westelksava.com/
Each of the attached photos is labeled with the photographer attribution. Olive & West Photography Jeff Fierberg Dan Videtech Thank you.