The cheery husband-and-wife team that runs Kingman Estates Winery can't stop smiling; after all, they just won two gold metals during the third annual Governor's Cup Colorado Wine Competition in July. To add to the glory, their 2013 cabernet sauvignon was also chosen as one of the twelve wines to grace the Governor's Case, a special selection of the competition's winners. Not a bad feat for a couple of hobbyists turned winemakers.
After decades enjoying wine and visiting vineyards, Doug and Karen Kingman decided after retiring that they would try their hand at the business. "We thought making wine would be fun to do," says Doug. "After all, we can't play golf all the time."
The couple bought a wine kit and gave it a go. The result? "It came out just fine," says Doug, and with that, the Kingmans were hooked.
After that, they started the urban winery at Kingman Estates Winery, 800 East 64th Avenue, in 2011, and have been in the industrial Mapleton neighborhood for the past four years. Currently they make sixteen wines, both red and white, and have won numerous accolades for their efforts, including recent honors for that cabernet sauvignon as well as for their 2013 cabernet franc. The best part: They do everything in Denver save for growing the grapes, which are mainly sourced from five vineyards near the town of Palisade on the Western Slope.
Glancing inside the small winery, it's difficult to comprehend how the Kingmans produce around 42,000 bottles a year. While the winery, with its high ceilings, is packed with racks of barrels, four tall fermentation tanks and other equipment, where they find the space to actually process the Colorado grapes remains a mystery. That is, until you take into account the parking lot, which lies empty on the weekends. All of the grapes are crushed, de-stemmed and pumped into the tanks right in front of the building — a true urban production.
With no prior winemaking experience, the Kingmans credit the success of their winery to their former life as project managers — a job they say prepared them for important skills such as process control, organization, sanitation and details. As for taste, many visits to California's Napa Valley helped seal their love of vino as well as develop a palate for tasting wine. In fact, what drinkers taste in each bottle mainly comes thanks to Doug. Before deciding what to bottle, he consults a chemist to check the liquid and confirm that it's balanced and safe, and then he bounces flavor profiles off of Karen and a panel of tasters.
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They sell the wines in the tasting room starting at $24 per bottle, though Doug says you can find them cheaper in liquor stores. The reason: You don't get the full winery experience with those bottles, and if you visit the space on Saturday or Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (or by appointment by calling 720-560-7270), you can taste the whole profile as well as see where the magic happens.