Can a great brewer become a great vintner? Colorado’s third largest craft brewery, Odell Brewing, is taking on the challenge with a new line of wines. Odell’s winery and tasting room will open adjacent to the brewery at 800 East Lincoln Avenue in Fort Collins next summer.
The Odell Wine Project will leverage the brewery’s thirty years of experience in fermentation and culture of experimentation. The employee-owned business regularly incubates and pilots employees’ ideas, and the idea of making wine has been bubbling for some time. “Beer is an iterative process,” explains Odell director of marketing Alex Kayne. “Always be tinkering. Always be unfinished. We bring that spirit to wine.”
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The brewery has extensive experience in blending, barrel-aging and experimentation, which are also vital to winemaking. Several of the brewery’s beers are barrel-aged, like wine, or blended with fruit. Sour ales Sippin’ Pretty and Friek, for example, are brewed with berries, and Tree Shaker is made with local peaches. Solera brewing techniques, originally developed by sherry makers centuries ago, enable Odell to create a finished product blended from several consecutive batches. Kayne explains that “the barrel is the bridge” between Odell’s successful beer enterprise and its new wine venture.
Odell Brewing is in the process of getting a license and designing the winery and tasting room, which both must be kept separate from the brewery by law, and will break ground later this year. Just as it does with hops, Odell will scour the country for grape varietals with distinct and unique flavors. As the winery takes form, Odell will post updates on its website. “We’re going to take folks along for the ride,” says Kayne. “They can nerd out with us.”
According to Kayne, the Odell Wine Project is another way the brewery is expanding its community. The brewery will also be opening another location in the Denver area next summer. The Sloan’s Lake site, which will feature a ten-barrel brewhouse and pizza kitchen, will be located at 1625 Perry Street, in the north end of the Kuhlman Building on the old St. Anthony campus.