I’m Jayme Henderson, and I am a farmer and winemaker for The Storm Cellar, a winery in western Colorado. I also write the blog, holly & flora, a space where I share my recipes for botanically inspired cocktails, tasting notes and wine pairings from my viewpoint as a certified sommelier, and stories from my life both here at the Redstone vineyard and from my travels abroad.
If you’re interested in finding inspiration to live a more creative and vibrant life, increasing your wine knowledge, and learning how to craft cocktails based upon the seasonality of ingredients, you’re in the right place. I also enjoy telling the stories behind the wine and behind the cocktails. You hear the word, terroir, tossed around a lot. To me, it is a reflection of place. I like to connect the people, place, and history to the stories I share here.
It’s terroir-driven storytelling.
I tend to keep it pretty casual here, sharing what’s going on in my life, my kitchen, my garden, the vineyard, and the winery. I live in a renovated farmhouse in the small town of Hotchkiss, where I live and work on a vineyard with my fiancé, Steve. Two years ago, we made a bold move and left long careers in the Denver restaurant industry and now farm 15 acres of vinifera grapes. We work the land, nurture our grapes, and make wines. Together. We are releasing our first vintage of high-elevation white wines and rosés this spring under our label, The Storm Cellar.
We couldn’t be more excited!!
Although I often get addressed as “Holly” in social media and emails, my name is Jayme, and holly & flora has an entirely different meaning. For years, Steve and I lived at the corner of Holly Street and Flora Place in the University Hills neighborhood in Denver. The blog started out as a creative outlet for me, a documentation of life at our house, our backyard urban garden, and the preserving and DIY projects I’d routinely make. I’m talking citrus scrubs, preserves made with local peaches, natural lip balm, and dried herb blends made from our garden.
My topics were all over the place!
Even though holly & flora is still a documentation of my activities, it’s now my journal for all-things related to drinks. While I focus primarily on culinary-inspired cocktails, I also share a lot about wine, both from a sommelier’s and a winemaker’s perspective. You can also find a lot of DIY projects such as bitters, infusions, liqueurs, shrubs, and syrups here on the site.
I believe in living a creative life, pushing boundaries, exploring new ideas, challenging myself in the kitchen, and keeping things simple and pure. And fun. Steve and I love the challenge of using what we have on hand or what our land and our neighboring farmers provide us. We have adopted a “zero waste” mentality both in our kitchen and behind the bar. This means using up all parts of a fruit or vegetable, lessening food waste and expanding our enjoyment factor.
Take a lemon, for example. Instead of simply juicing a lemon and discarding the peels, I zest the lemon for citrus salt, or I use the lemon peels for cocktail bitters, limoncello, or a citrus body scrub.
Although I have always enjoyed a well-made cocktail, my love for craft cocktails began with my tenure at Barolo Grill in Denver. Although I was limited in my creativity there, I learned about amari, had my first taste of Fernet, commenced my spritz addiction, and even got inspired to craft my own limoncello. From there, I became the bar manager at Coohills and got to create my own beverage menu. The challenge stretched me creatively. I loved making my own syrups and bitters. I loved layering flavors. And I loved the pace.
Even though I was a certified sommelier during those bartending gigs, I was more focused on making drinks. When I began working as a full-time sommelier, I missed the creativity of MAKING something. I loved curating a wine list, but I felt somewhat like a DJ — I became well-versed in someone else’s product. I then began to focus on making cocktails here on the blog. It was something that I had control over the taste, aromas, texture, and design. It was my creative outlet.
I am a seventh generation Floridian and grew up in Lakeland, a medium-sized town just south of Orlando. My sister, Heather, and I grew up making homemade meals on a nightly basis with our mom. Our kitchen was the heart of our home, and it’s where we learned how to cook and how to show hospitality. My dad taught me how to sail, how to fish, and how to appreciate Cajun food. He also introduced me to the music of Roy Orbison.
My family means the WORLD to me.
My love of gardening began, crazily enough, with a packet of seeds that I got in a kids meal at Burger King. I wish kids would get that in their meals today! I grew my very first green bell pepper plant from those seeds, and gardening has continued to play a large role in my life. My grandfather and his dad were orange growers in DeSoto County, Florida, and I am happy to continue the family farming tradition.
While I truly enjoy stretching my creative limits and making complex, wild cocktails, my go-to is sparkling wine. In fact, I would drink it every day if I could. My favorite domestic sparkler is Schramsberg Brut Rosé, my favorite value bubbly is Gruet’s Domaine St. Vincent Brut, and my splurge is anything from the Champagne producer, Jacques Selosse.
I also get asked which wine was the catalyst for further wine study. The wine that started it all. While I can’t pinpoint an exact bottle, I can say that an experience at Denver’s Rioja restaurant many years ago was pivotal. Steve and I went there and fortunately had an amazing server that truly exemplified HOSPITALITY. He guided us through the wine list, served us an outstanding $40 bottle of wine, and finally gave us our first taste of the Hungarian dessert wine, tokaji. So, I might have to say that Royal Tokaji was my gateway wine.
My favorite cocktails or spirits? A Negroni, Taylor’s or Woodford bourbon over a large block of ice, or a simple St. George Spirits Terroir gin and grapefruit juice.
I am a self-taught, professional photographer, and, unless otherwise noted, I take all of the photos for this site. I use a Nikon D7200, and my iPhone 7 Plus makes an occasional appearance. I enjoy using natural lighting and work hard at composition. Capturing beautifully crafted cocktails in the midst of their formation, along with snippets of what it’s like to live on a vineyard and be a winemaker, is rewarding and truly reflective of my life. I also try and show off the beauty and uniqueness of life here in the North Fork Valley.
Since my primary occupation is that of a farmer, I tend to wake up a little after sunrise and intentionally carve out time to start the day over breakfast with Steve. We make a hearty meal, go through two French presses of coffee, and outline the day’s responsibilities. From there, it’s working in the vineyard, doing winery chores, dealing with emails or social media, or getting after accounts and deliveries.
This year is going to be especially crazy. We will be showing our wines in all of the major Colorado wine festivals and tasting events, and we will be driving back to Denver [a four-hour drive] each week to sell our wines at the Pearl Street Farmers Market. Truly, I don’t know how we are going to do all of this, just the two of us, and maintain the vineyard. When you own your own business, you do what needs to be done, no matter the cost.
I have high hopes, though!
Regarding adhering to a “regular posting schedule”, that’s something to which I can’t commit. Mother Nature is my boss, and her unpredictable actions dictate my own. You might think I’m self employed, but I report to her. 14-hour workdays are the norm, and by the time the day is over, I’m often ready to crash.
I worked for fifteen years in the Denver restaurant scene, from event planner, manager, and sommelier, to mixologist. I am the sole creator of holly & flora, which won Saveur magazine’s readers’ choice award for “Best Drinks Blog” in 2016. I’m also a freelance recipe developer, writer, and photographer, contributing pieces for many publications, including Grand Junction’s Spoke+Blossom magazine, Eat Boutique, and the cooking website, The Kitchn, where I have written nearly 100 articles on wine, cocktails, and gardening.
Before taking the plunge into farm life, I studied and interned in wineries in Oregon, California, and Spain, and on organic farms, most notably at Findhorn in Forres, Scotland. I also continue to host creative cocktail workshops and create culinary cocktails, wine pairings, and spirit-free drinks for chef dinners and events.
You can read more about our big move from city life to vineyard life in Denver’s 5280 Magazine. Their February 2019 issue, titled “Colorado’s Wine Boom“, features a Q+A with me and Steve about our drastic life change. The issue also features multiple articles on Colorado’s exciting push to produce high-quality wines. If you want to read more about how we decided to trade our roles as sommeliers for roles as farmers and winemakers, you can visit this link within our winery’s website.
I do not accept guest posts at the time.
I accept sponsored posts on a limited basis, and I only support brands which align with my values, aesthetic, and taste. Regarding samples, I am happy to accept them and give them a try; however, my accepting a product does not necessarily mean that I will post about it. If you are a brand and would like to discuss rates or opportunities, please reach out to me via email. I am happy to chat!
Here’s the link.
I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me with questions, a simple hello, or other opportunities at hollyandflora [at] gmail [dot] com.
Be sure to follow my blog for regular updates and follow along on my favorite platform, Instagram.
If you’d like to learn more about our vineyard and winery or would like to buy our wines, be sure to sign up for The Storm Cellar’s newsletter, follow us on Instagram, or visit our website. It’s been an incredible journey so far, and we’d love to share our adventure — and wines — with you!