Hi Vertices. You've said it yourself, the contrast in that scene is never going to work. Ideally what you need in that situation is an ND grad filter. Darker at the top and lighter at the bottom it would have toned down the sky yet still retained the saturated colours you're after. I only read this stuff, I don't actually own one of these filters, but it's on my list. Put it on yours too.
Alternatively, this is what Photoshop was made for - not really, I just said that for effect. You could have exposed for the sky and used software after the fact to retrieve some of the detail in the shadows. It doesn't work every time and it never works perfectly, but it does help in most situations. If you're doing this I think it's important to expose for the brightest part of the image. It's easier to retrieve details from shadow areas than it is from overblown highlights.
PS - Vertices (cool name) It would be handy if you could include the equipment you're using in either your profile, your signature or the thread itself. Are you shooting RAW? I made the assumption you were but I may be wrong.
Various lenses, SB800 & Manfrotto 190 with 460MG head