Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
04.01.2011  
 

How Urban Wineries Succeed

Product, marketing and location are key for these Central U.S. vintners

 
by Ben Weinberg
 
 
The Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery
 
The Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery operates on the west side of Denver, Colo.
Denver, Colo.—From the banks of the Mississippi River, across Colorado’s mountain peaks to the dunes beside the Great Salt Lake, winery trendsetters feed the appetites of devoted urban followers in locally relevant ways.

Ben Parsons, the British-born winemaker/owner of 5,000-case The Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery (TIMT), operates out of a Quonset hut on Denver’s industrial west side. Fruit from Colorado’s fertile Western Slope comprises the bulk of production, although his Albariño and Verdelho come from Lodi, Calif.

“Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Black Muscat, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon,” says Parsons. “All Colorado fruit. But as the town of Palisade relies entirely on tourism, I decided to vinify in Denver, which has an up-and-coming restaurant community. I’m happiest in a city, and my young, educated clientele loves locally sourced wine.”

To the west, in Salt Lake City, Utah, Kiler Grove Winegrowers opened a 500-case urban winery in January. Michael Knight serves as general manager and covers vineyard work, winemaking, bottling, logistics and sales. “I grew up in Sonoma County and worked a few years at the University of California, Davis, where I picked up a great deal of information. But mostly I self-studied, and I’m lucky to be able to source fruit from my family’s vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif.”

Amigoni Urban Winery in is a 700-case operation in Kansas City, Mo.  Owned by Kerry Amigoni and her winemaker husband Michael, the winery currently produces Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre and white and red Urban Blends exclusively from vinifera grapes.  “A lot of this job is trial and error,” Kerry Amigoni says.  “Michael took classes at UC Davis, and we’ve traveled extensively to California and Italy, but nothing really prepares you for this unique challenge.”

Thriving in slow times
Three local businesses in diverse urban settings—dependent on well-heeled, technologically adept customers—are thriving in the current economic climate.

“We broke even last year,” TIMT’s Parsons says, “and we made a $25,000 donation to the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Production has grown every year, starting with 2,500 cases in 2008 to this year’s projected 6,000 cases. We’re expanding into canned wine, and by summer we’ll have an on-site kitchen for full restaurant service and a rooftop deck. Website version 2.0 is about to go live, and our wine club is gaining speed now that people can sign up online. We also do parties.”

The winery has also made a success of offering 3- and 5-gallon kegs to more than 400 local customers, including more than 100 bars and restaurants. “The juice stays good for three months,” Parsons says, “which means little wastage. We also don’t have to purchase bottles, so restaurants can keep the price south of $9 per glass.”

“There’s no substitute for having attractive products,” Knight says. “If you make good wine, you can welcome the public and just let them taste. We operate in a commercial district next to hand soap bottlers, temp-labor companies, kitchen designers, tailors and fire extinguisher rechargers. We may look a little rough, but if the wines satisfy, then people are willing to spend time here.”

Why Utah?
A posting on Kiler Grove’s website asks, and answers that predictable question: “Why establish an urban winery in Salt Lake valley of Utah? Sound like a demented scheme? Not so. We hope. We are doing just that. After years of attempting to work with San Luis Obispo County to get past the severe restrictions and other complications facing us, we took up the suggestion of a trusted Utah friend to do this in Utah….The community of South Salt Lake and the state liquor control agency have been amazingly accommodating in our effort to get established in Utah.”

WinesVinesDATA currently lists three other wineries in Utah, 6,000-case Castle Creek; 900-case Spanish Valley Vineyards & Winery, both in Moab and 1,700-case Hive Winery, Layton.

“For us, accessibility is the key,” Amigoni says, “as well as a strong, local marketing push. Being part of the city’s core has allowed our customers to come in whenever it’s convenient. We advertise along the highway and call on hotels across the city. Our most powerful tool is our monthly newsletter, but we also maintain an active social presence on Facebook and Twitter.  We’ve been able to increase production 30% each year. Before 2010, all of our sales were in Kansas City, but we are now finally distributing to the rest of Missouri.”

Black Muscat and butchers

What does the future hold for these vinous urban pio neers? TIMT will release its first sparkling Black Muscat this July, and Parsons is teaming up with Justin Brunson of the Masterpiece Deli to create a salumeria and artisanal restaurant in the trendy Highlands neighborhood northwest of Denver. “We’re excited about our FDA-approved dry curing room and open butchering area, where you’ll be able to see skilled butchers break up whole animals.”

Kiler Grove is in the process of finalizing its 2009 blends, to be released shortly. Amigoni is working on private label projects for some of the city’s historic venues, as well as continuing to plant additional acres of varietals like Petit Verdot and Mourvèdre, based on customer demand.

“This isn’t rocket science,” Parsons says. “The best wines are made from perfect grapes, wherever they’re grown or processed.”

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 $708 million
5%
$7,844 million
6%
November 2013 $673 million $7,428 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 $274 million
21%
$1,799 million
16%
November 2013 $225 million $1,558 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 127
-5%
226
15%
November 2013 134 196
     
 
MORE » Released on 12.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

FEATURES
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • January 7
     
    Putting Your Brand to Work
     
  • January 9-18
     
    Icewine Festival
     
  • January 13-16
     
    VinCO
     
  • January 15
     
    WineFlavor 101B
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Grape Industry Lukewarm on Immigration Act »
 
A band-aid it may be but instead of the negative tone of this article which...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Oregon Wine Institute Plans for the Future »
 
When Mark is involved, things are going to work out just great! We miss the...
Reader: Peter Bell
 
Article: Spanish Cooper Sells Chinese Oak »
 
I would love to find Us wineries using the Chinese oak barrels. Do you know...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Prohibition Laws Linger 81 Years Later »
 
Trader Joe's (Union Square) and Whole Foods (Upper West Side) both have wine shops attached...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Prohibition Laws Linger 81 Years Later »
 
Maybe the economy could use another boost by repealing the post-prohibitionary laws too. Make it...
Reader: csm noble
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Director Of Hospitalit...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Skilled Cellar Worker ...
 Santa Rosa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Public Relations Accou...
 San Francisco, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Portfolio Marketing Ma...
 White Plains, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Midwest Regional Sales...
 Midwest Usa, IL
Sales and Marketing
 Vineyard Manager
 St. Helena, CA
Vineyards
 International Marketin...
 St. Helena, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Representatives
 North And South, CA
Sales and Marketing
 On-Call Chef
 Rutherford, CA
General Administration and
 Winery Estate Gardens ...
 Rutherford, CA
General Administration and
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.