You mentioned that the Claremont was originally a wonderful place for people to stay when traveling to and from Colorado. It is also a wonderful get away. The addition of the winery also changed the way the Inn is seen and even used. Tell me about the many ways people enjoy the Claremont.
Yes, the original guests at the Claremont Inn were folks traveling to and from Colorado, many from Kansas and Missouri. As the business grew we added murder mysteries, cooking classes and special dining options to start developing a destination business. In 2012 we added a winery to the operation and special events. With our friends and family packages we have become a true destination getaway!
Dave, one of the things I could not help notice is the incredible quality of the meals you create for your guests. I have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the country and I would put your meals in that category — including a filet mignon you cut cut with a spoon. Do you have formal culinary training? If so, tell me more about it?
Growing up in the grocery business and then moving into the restaurant business I always had a passion for food and customer service. So after having a couple of family-style restaurants as well as quick service restaurants I started studying professional cooking. I took some classes in New York City for several summers and then shortly after completing the building of the inn I went to professional cooking school here in Colorado and finished with a course in the south of France.
Talk about how the addition of the winery has changed the inn? How many labels does the winery now have and how do the Inn and Winery complement each other?
The winery has been an incredible addition to the Claremont Inn. It attracts a much broader audience than we did as just a country inn. We have a lot more younger guests that are attracted by the wine and then stay because of the experience we have to offer. Now in addition to Cooking Weekends and Murder Mystery Weekends we have an Escape Room game, Paint and Taste classes and private nine course dinners with the chef and winemaker in the winery.
We are releasing new wines all the time and to date have released over 60 different wines. This is a great pairing to the country inn business because there is always something new… a great reason come and visit again and again…
Tell me what you see as the future of the Claremont Inn and Winery?
We are always looking for new and interesting things to offer at the inn to keep that business interesting and alive. The real growth for our company right now is expanding distribution of our wines. We will be opening several satellite tasting rooms across the front range of Colorado. Our brand is pretty well known but this is a great way to introduce our wines to a whole new audience and in reverse then introduce the Claremont Inn to them as well. We have our first tasting room open in Greeley, Colorado and are currently working on our second to open in Littleton, Colorado by the end of the year. We are also starting to wholesale our wines to liquor stores in Colorado.