Colorado's Wine Industry Is Keeping the Glass Half Full

Kevin Webber, Carboy Winery director of sales and business development, demonstrates the joy of to-go wine.
Kevin Webber, Carboy Winery director of sales and business development, demonstrates the joy of to-go wine. Courtesy of Carboy Winery

Although winery tasting rooms are closed for the duration of the statewide stay-at-home order, many Colorado wineries are keeping the wine, cider and mead flowing with to-go service, curbside pick-up, local delivery and free or reduced-price shipping.

To ease the financial strain of these uncertain times, wineries are offering impressive discounts on their wines. For example, Carboy Winery is running a special that gets you a free bottle if you buy six. You can pick them up (along with food) at Carboy locations in Governor's Park, Littleton and Breckenridge. Restoration Vineyards and several other wineries are offering free local delivery (local to the wineries, that is). Wine club members of the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey can get a three-pack of wine for 30 percent off. And growler fills are available at Bigsby’s Folly in Denver at a 50 percent discount.

Wineries are also working with other retail outlets to ensure that customers don't run short on wine. “We’re encouraging them to forge new relationships with liquor stores and restaurants,” says Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. For more information about deals and discounts, see the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE) website. VinoShipper works with producers to to ship wine orders across the state via UPS. And in what's probably the biggest change to business-as-usual, wine drinkers can get wine to go or for delivery from restaurants, as long as the emergency order is in place. Just be sure to call before heading over to your favorite winery or restaurant to verify their individual policies.

click to enlarge Get a wine club membership from the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey to enjoy current discounts. - KRISTA KAFER
Get a wine club membership from the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey to enjoy current discounts.
Krista Kafer
Some wine businesses have gotten particularly innovative. Having canceled its March wine classes, Noble Riot, a Denver wine bar, now specializes in takeout fried chicken and wine. You can also buy a roll of toilet paper there. For those who miss the in-person wine-sipping experience (and who doesn’t?), Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez will soon be offering virtual wine tastings. The Storm Cellar in Hotchkiss held an Instagram Live wine tasting in March, in which participants learned about the winemaking processes behind the varietals they were enjoying at home.

Wineries with urban tasting rooms continue to supply customers, but out-of-the-way wineries that depend on tourism are harder hit by the stay-at-home order. “These are times of uncertainty,” Caskey notes, adding that Colorado’s 170 wineries, cideries and meaderies employ 1,665 people. Although it's a little early for spring production, winemakers have begun to blend, filter and bottle wines to keep employees on. Wine producers, though, are part of the agricultural sector of the economy that is exempt from the stay-at-home order, so wine can be produced as long as employees maintain appropriate distances between each other.

According to Caskey, many winemakers have the bottles, corks and other materials they need to bottle this season at their wineries. For those that do not, there is a possibility of delay if shippers have to prioritize shipping of medical supplies and other necessities. Nevertheless, Caskey does not anticipate a serious problem.
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Krista Kafer is a Denver native who relishes good food and wine. Her motto: Cultivate taste, but never get so refined you can’t drink cheap red wine.
Contact: Krista Kafer