An artist’s rendering of the new location for The Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery in Denver, Colo.
—Citing strong demand, Ben Parsons is doubling the size of the urban winery he founded and expects to be selling up to 8 million cans of wine within five years.
“The demand was such that we had to move locations,” Parsons told Wines & Vines
today as he worked to get the winery ready for its anticipated July 1 opening. Parsons launched The Infinite Monkey Theorem
winery in 2008 in a converted Quonset hut in Denver.
The new building has a 10,000-square-foot warehouse with 5,000 square feet of adjoining office space. Located in Denver’s River North district, Parsons said the building used to house equipment to make custom-order boilers.
Parsons said he is going to convert the first floor of the office area to a “winery tap room” with a restaurant. “It will be kinda similar to a microbrewery tap room, and we’ll still do tastings. We want people to come in, hang out and soak it in and drink some wine.”
The winery is named after the theorem that a monkey hitting keys at random on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely bang out a piece of literature such as a work by William Shakespeare.
In addition to adding a temperature-controlled area for barrel aging, laying new drains and moving and installing his winemaking equipment, Parsons said he’s “really ramping up canned wine production.”
TIMT’s first canned wine was a sparkling Moscato, and Parsons said he’s adding a white, rosé and a sparkling red blend. The long-term plan calls for an expanded run of 15,000 cases of bottled wine to be sold primarily in Colorado, 10,000 kegs of wine and 8 million cans of wine (equivalent to 205,000 cases.)
The expansion is being funded through an additional round of investment that brought in $1 million, although the winery has retained its original corps of investors, Parsons said.
Offbeat and for the outdoorsy set
The canned wines have struck a chord with consumers who enjoy the offbeat marketing of the winery as well as the fact that it isn’t located in a well-known wine region. “The whole winery is, I think, very edgy and flies in the face of more traditional and romantic images that the wineries try to perpetuate,” Parsons said.
Parsons said canned wine also was a hit in outdoorsy Colorado. “It’s way more recyclable, you can pack it in and pack out and crumple it down so it’s kinda perfect for an outdoor lifestyle,” he said.
Part of the expansion includes a new canning line. The wine will be made with grapes sourced from throughout the western United States as well as with bulk wine. Parsons said he’ll continue to buy Colorado grapes, which will be reserved for bottled wines.
Parsons is looking to expand the winery’s small staff and hire a full-time winemaker so he can focus on sales.
He said a remaining challenge is working with the TTB to hash out rules on approved beverage containers. Parsons said he’s mystified that the federal government allows a 187ml can but currently does not approve of 250ml, 8-ounce cans.
Rooftop garden, keg-filling service
Other plans for the new location include a rooftop garden. Parsons said the building offers 1/3 acre of space that could be converted to growing food for a farmers market or for use in the restaurant.
He’s also looking to offer a keg-filling service for wineries outside the state. For example, an Oregon winery looking to expand in the Denver metro area could ship its wine in a bladder to its distributor, which would then keg it at Parsons’ winery.
Parsons holds a master’s degree from the University of Adelaide and also worked in wine sales in London. The Englishman said he was finishing his education and work in the southern hemisphere when he applied for and secured a job as winemaker for a winery in Palisade, Colo., in 2001.
Despite the “massive culture shock” between London and Grand Junction, Colo., Parsons developed good relations with Colorado grapegrowers and honed his skills as winemaker.
He picked Denver as the site for his own winery, saying almost all of Colorado’s wine drinkers live in the area, which is on the opposite side of the Rockies from the state’s primary grapegrowing region. Urban wineries in a city like San Francisco have to compete with established wineries that are just an easy drive from the city.
Depending on how the expansion project goes, Parsons said he’s interested in establishing similar wineries in cities with strong demand for wine but not such easy access to vineyards.