The owners of Blanchard Family Wines had to wait until the last moment, but today they received their certificate of occupancy from the city and will open tonight, Friday December 14, in the alley of the Dairy Block, at 1855 Blake Street, Suite 120. The winery will finish and bottle wines pressed at brothers Mark and James Blanchard's main winery in Healdsburg, California. The swank tasting room will offer cheese, charcuterie and desserts that pair well with the exquisite wines.
The brothers started Blanchard Family Wines ten years ago in Sonoma County; Mark and winemaker Jene Chapanar will remain at the main winery, while James, who until recently was an Air Force helicopter pilot, will oversee the Colorado location.
“Are you a Colorado winery?” is a question Mark says he often gets. He is quick to remind people that Colorado’s famed microbrewers rarely get their all their wheat, barley, and hops from Colorado; rather, they select great ingredients from many regions. While Blanchard Family Wines are made primarily in California, they are finished in Colorado, and the winery and tasting room are authentically Coloradan.
“We probably have more wine club members in Colorado,” adds Mark, thanks to James’s efforts to market the wine here.
The winery only makes a few thousand cases a year, using grapes from the diverse growing regions around Healdsburg. A handcrafted approach is evident in the delicious wines. The chardonnay is crisp and lightly oaked, more like a high-end Burgundy than the common Napa-style chardonnay. Even people who don’t like chardonnay will find it quite nice.
The sauvignon blanc has a wonderful floral bouquet and refreshing citrus notes. With a floral nose and mango notes, the heavenly viognier is the brothers' best white, and one that Chapanar says makes Blanchard stand out from the competition. A pale rosé will taste fantastic with the charcuterie.
Blanchard Family Wines also offers sumptuous reds: a not too grapey pinot noir, a dark and velvety zinfandel, and a complex cabernet sauvignon. All are good without food but also complement cured meats, cheeses and chocolates beautifully.
Inside the tasting room, walls are adorned with artistic woodwork and James and Mark's dad’s photography. The winery’s garage doors open to a dreamily lit alley with outdoor seating. Blanchard Family winery joins several new and upcoming bars and restaurants on the Dairy Block. Los Angeles-based cocktail bar Seven Grand and the Denver Milk Market opened earlier this year, and Run for the Roses will also soon open. Also with an alley-only entrance is the Engine Room, a late-night pizzeria from Frank Bonanno, who also owns Milk Market.
Blanchard Family Wines will open tonight, and then will have regular hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
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