Communion: the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings especially if the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
Six years ago, Winston and Cameron Kelly moved to Telluride. In 2019, they closed on a commercial space next to Telluride Distilling Company in Mountain Village. “We bought the space originally thinking it would be an event space and then COVID happened and that derailed our plans.” Cameron said. “Luckily, we have good and talented friends that have helped us transform our original idea.”
What seemed like a wrench turned serendipitous and inspired their theme of coming together. “The name ‘Communion’ came to me one night and I Googled it and the first thing you see is: “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings especially if the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.” Winston said.
Enter good and talented friends Dustin Clements and Oulli Durham. The Kellys had partnered with Clements and Durham for events in the past and knew their level of professionalism. “It’s a passion project for us all.” said Cameron. “We are a good team that can bring something to the community that we didn’t necessarily have before.”
Winston said, “There is beer at the brewery and liquor at the distillery and Dustin and Oulli help us complete the perfect triangle of offerings with the wine bar. We believe it’s good for the community and Mountain Village. We are very focused on whatever can help the vibrancy in the Village and keep people there. We like being a part of the community in Mountain Village and we want the space to be something for everyone where people can come together.”
Clements said, “Winston and I had talked a lot about the event space, and it’s an idea that has further evolved with Oulli and me. We got together to decide what we thought would work because we both have extensive experience in the restaurant industry.”
Durham is currently at world-renowned Alpino Vino and before that was head Wine Director at Cosmopolitan restaurant. Clements earned his sommelier qualifications in 2011 and before that managed liquor stores both in Telluride and on the front range. He also ran a couple of restaurants and was an Assistant Wine Maker for three harvests at Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez. He partnered with Sutcliffe Vineyards’ Winemaker Jesus Castillo, Telluride Ski and Golf Wine Director and GM of Alpino Vino Andrew Shaffner, Katie Hall from Allred’s and Durham to create the famous Telluride Red, proudly produced in Colorado with fruit from Colorado growers at Sutcliffe Vineyards.
“We have experience in the making of wine,” Clements said, “But we have also both worked in the sales side of the industry. Oulli works for a small wine distributor, and I do as well, we’ve had experience in every side of the industry. They say, ‘do what you love.’ I was hired at the liquor store in Telluride not knowing a thing about the industry, and it was something I totally just fell into and really enjoyed.”
Said Durham of the Communion endeavor, “At first it was high anxiety, but I am very excited and humbled to be working with a group of likeminded individuals - bringing something for locals and guests alike. The energy of our team is very comforting and relaxing, and I think it’s going to translate to the space and the overall experience. One of our main initiatives is to be a place for everyone.”
Clements added, “Partnering with Cameron and Winston has been great, they are some of the nicest, most humble, down-to-earth people. They are some of my favorite people.”
Cameron is working on getting her master’s in theology and is a florist by trade. She’s worked in philanthropy and the event industry and knows from experience with galas and parties that having a physical space can be one of the trickier pieces of the puzzle.
Winston said, “Communion will be a quaint intimate space with high-end furnishings offering a range of price points and something for everyone.”
"We will have many different price points, with our focus on smaller craft brews. You may not be able to get a pint of lager, but we will have nice bottles that can be split between friends." said Durham.
“Food wise we have ideas for simple organic, locally-sourced small plates, charcuterie and cheese boards, and soups in the winter. The focus is on the wine, and we want you to be able to enjoy yourself and maybe have some food in your belly so you can have a 2nd glass,” Clements laughs.
Durham added, “For those with dinner reservations, you can stop by early for a quick snack and a cocktail or after dinner for a night cap.”
Winston said, “We are open to private events and can cater to that – something we think Mountain Village maybe was lacking. We’ve talked about wine tasting and private chef events and dinners. If you need a space to have a party come see us. We have the perfect intimate setting for that. We have these two wine machines that can produce wine by the glass. The machines keep the wine fresher for longer – so the wines don’t oxidize.”
Clements said, “The Wineemotion machines allow us to not worry so much about waste. Without having that worry we’re allowed to pour high-end wines by the glass you might not experience somewhere else. If you want to try something out of your price range, it gives you the opportunity to expand your palette and knowledge.”
And knowledge is what this team brings. Cameron’s father has a ranch and their family has been producing estate wine for about 15 years.
“My father was born in Iran and developed a love for agriculture very early, so he has a green thumb to say the least. We do everything onsite from growing to picking to bottling. It’s grape to bottle so it doesn’t leave the ranch, which is becoming more rare. Oulli and Dustin like the wine so I feel like it’s good,” laughs Cameron.
“It’s very good as it comes from good fruit, every sample I’ve tasted was very good.” Clements says.
“The wine, like the ranch, is labeled Scythian.” adds Winston, “A red wine that’s kind of a private label and not commercially available for sale. It’s like an in-house small-batch wine that we give to friends and family throughout the year.”
When asked what success will look like, Durham replied, “Success is to be well-received by the community, because that’s mainly who we’re trying to open this space up for. We are excited to bring this experience to a different area and hopefully everyone is on board and appreciates what we’re trying to do.”
Cameron added, “To echo what Oulli said, our desire is to build a sense of community - not necessarily a “Cheers”-type situation but be able to walk into the bar and have a smiling and familiar face greet you and know that you’re welcome.”
Their neighbors Abbott and Joanna Smith at Telluride Distilling Company are also very excited to have them join the block, “it’s a great addition for the whole Mountain Village, we’re excited about this team’s new endeavor.”
Communion will be open Thursday – Sunday 3 pm-9pm (ish).
“Outside those hours we will be encouraging private events, your Wednesday book club or whatever your group may be.” Winston said.
Connect with Communion via Instagram – telluridecommunion - or call 970-538-9510 (9510’ is the elevation at Communion).