Allison Levine is owner of Please The Palate, a boutique marketing and event-planning agency. As a freelance writer, she contributes to numerous publications while eating and drinking her way around the world.
Known as the “Mile High City,” Denver is hub to some of the best skiing in the country. It’s not uncommon to fly to Denver only to rent a car and drive right past downtown as you head to the slopes. But downtown Denver is definitely worth a stop. Revered as one of the greenest cities in North America, it is also known for a very active lifestyle. But along with the outdoor lifestyle, Denver has a vibrant restaurant and craft brewery scene, with more beer brewed within its limits than anywhere else in the U.S. Out of 384 breweries in the state, approximately 60 are in Denver. Despite the dominance of breweries in Denver, there is also one urban winery.
INFINITE MONKEY THEOREM: AN URBAN WINERY
Infinite Monkey Theorem is an urban winery with locations in Denver and Austin, Texas. While wine grapes are grown in Colorado, and there are 108 wineries in the state, Infinite Monkey owner and winemaker Ben Parsons does not own any vineyards. Parsons sources the grapes primarily from the western slope of Colorado, as well as some from California. Parsons, who is originally from England, studied enology in Australia and made wine in both Australia and New Zealand before he spotted a job for a winemaker in Palisade, Colorado. Living and working in a frontier wine-growing region, Parsons wrote a business plan for an urban winery. With Denver as the second-fastest growing metropolitan city in the country, and Austin the first-fastest, his idea was to “bring wine into the city where the people and restaurants are.”
Parsons got investors in 2008, and in 2009 he started producing wine in kegs. A tap system is more efficient than bottles -- a keg provides 135 five-ounce pours, each as fresh as the next. Kegs can also be re-used.
Then in 2010, after always wanting to put wine in a can, Parsons partnered with the largest aluminum can company in world. They created a lining to put in the aluminum so that no taste was imparted to the wine. He launched the canned wine at Aspen Food and Wine in 2011.
The name Infinite Monkey Theorem comes from an old mathematical theory in which anything and everything is possible. The logo follows suit with the image of a monkey typing -- “anything is possible.” With Infinite Monkey Theorem, Parsons is breaking barriers by making wine relevant, fun and accessible. They offer four different wines in can, eight different wines in keg and nine different bottles of vin.
We started with a glass of the traditional sparkling wine, 2012 Bubble Universe, Grand Valley, Colorado. Made with 100 percent Albarino grapes that come from Palisades, Colorado, the wine is made in the method champenoise and is bright and crisp. We enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon made with grapes from the Sonoma Coast and resulting in a wine with a big, citrus nose of pineapple and grapefruit. (Parsons told us that this year he is going to add hops to the Sauvignon Blanc.)
From the red wines in bottle, we tried both the 2014 Cabernet Franc, which is made from grapes that are 60 percent from Palisade, Colorado and 40 percent from Lodi, California. The Cab Franc carried aromas of jalapenos, and the 2013 Syrah, which comes from Colorado, touts notes of cola.
After enjoying wines from the bottle, we tasted the four wines from a can. There’s a Chardonnay, rose of Syrah, a Merlot and a Moscato. I was skeptical at first about wines in a can, but Infinite Monkey Theorem Wines knows how to do it. The canned wines are slightly carbonated, which helps keep the aluminum’s integrity so it won’t explode or implode. These wines are perfect for pool parties, ski trips, rafting, picnics and just about any occasion. And now they also offer a dry, hopped pear cider in a can.
For a winery that started with $272,000, today they are producing 100,000 cans, 9,000 kegs and 8,000 nine-liter cases per year. Infinite Monkey Theorem canned wine is distributed in 37 states and can be found in Whole Foods, as well as on Frontier Airlines as the in-flight wine. The wines can also be enjoyed in Denver at their “tap room” -- not a tasting room -- located in front of the 15,000-square-foot winery in the vibrantly growing River North Arts District (RiNO) in Denver. The tap room is a large, warm space filled with couches, tables and stools and has a bar that offers wine on tap. It is a perfect spot to relax with friends for the night, but if you want to learn more and see the winery first-hand, tours are available too.
3200 Larimer Street
WHERE TO STAY:
The city of Denver is manageable and accessible, but a central place to stay is in LoDo (Lower Denver). Located in the middle of downtown Denver, LoDo is Denver’s oldest neighborhood. It is where the Pepsi Center, Elitch Gardens, Coors Field, Larimar Square and Union Station are located. It is also where Springhill Suites Downtown Denver, my base for my short visit, is located. From this hotel I was less than two miles from Infinite Monkey Theorem.
Aside from its centrality, the boutique suites and free wi-fi access throughout the hotel (a business traveler’s dream), what made Springhill Suites all the more attractive is the fact that the hotel is the first LEED Gold® hotel in Denver. The hotel is also connected to Metropolitan State University located across the street. As a guest at the hotel, there is no restaurant onsite, but head across the street to the University’s restaurant, Degree, where they are training the next set of hospitality leaders in Colorado.
1190 Auraria Parkway
Denver, Colorado 80204