Look up “Colorado wine” and Google suggests people want to know, “Is Colorado good for wine?” and, “Does Colorado have good wineries?” Up until last week, I had no idea.
Enter Colorado winery, The Ordinary Fellow. The labels on the samples I received are anything but commonplace, splashed with colorful artwork. A small peel off tab enables an outer sleeve to rotate around the bottle. With each turn of the clever wrapper, cutouts highlight different images below along with clever sayings. The innovative approach is something perfectly playful and enchanting for those who feel that stodgy wine labels can be a snooze fest. Perhaps this is one way to attract a new audience to wine?
While the labels may be unique and unconventional, the varietal contents are more commonplace. Bottles I received include consumer darlings Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling. What may be a surprise to learn is that the Riesling and Cabernet come from the same vineyard. However, different microclimates can enable very different grapes to flourish within one vineyard. That’s not to say Colorado wine country doesn’t have distinctive qualities. By way of example, here’s a quick overview.
Fun Facts About Colorado Wine
Want to dazzle people with your knowledge of Colorado wine? Here are some talking points to share the next time you’re at a party courtesy of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.
- Colorado has more than 170 licensed wineries.
- It is home to two federally designated American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA.
- These two AVAs contribute 90% of the wine grapes grown in Colorado.
- At 4,000 to 7,000 feet in elevation, Colorado lays claim to the highest growing regions in the Northern Hemisphere (by comparison, Washington State’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA ranges from 200 to 2,000 feet).
The Ordinary Fellow Origin Story
Interestingly, Ben Parsons, the bloke behind The Ordinary Fellow, sounds anything but ordinary. The winemaker previously founded The Infinite Monkey Theorem (TIMT) winery in 2008. A 2019 Wine Spectator article announcing his resignation reports, “He kickstarted the urban winery and canned wine trends.” Sounds like Ben is intent on making wine more accessible, something the industry desperately needs.
Named after a British pub in Ben’s hometown, The Ordinary Fellow opened its doors in November 2021 in downtown Palisade. Why another Colorado winery? Parsons professes, “The opportunity presented itself to take over a 13-acre vineyard in SW Colorado and I see great potential in Palisade as a destination to recreate. I also believe you can make World class wine in Colorado and I have unfinished business here.”
Take a peek at The Ordinary Fellow online wine shop and, surprisingly, Washington wines are currently on offer! What’s that about? Ben explained, “I worked with Four Feathers Wine Estates to set up their custom canning operation after I left TIMT and got to know their team. It made sense to make some wine from The Horse Heaven Hills to start with so that I had wine to sell when I launched The Ordinary Fellow.”
Which leads back to the question, does Colorado have good wineries? While I am not yet able to speak to the ambience of the tasting rooms, I certainly have some thoughts on the wines.
The Ordinary Fellow Colorado Wines
The Riesling and the Cabernet Sauvignon sampled come from Box Bar Vineyard sites at 6,200 – 6,500 feet in elevation. It is farmed by hand and with no artificial sprays or fertilizers.
Hawks’ Nest Vineyard, home to the Pinot Noir, sits at an astounding 6,800 feet in elevation with a southwest slope.
All three wines I received were hand harvested.
The Ordinary Fellow Riesling
420 cases made
One whiff and the variety reveals itself with a signature note of petrol on the nose. This easy drinking juicy wine reveals citrus, apricot, and Fuji apple along with a pleasant mouthfeel.
We usually uncork a Riesling when the hubby picks up take out from our favorite Indian restaurant. However, on this occasion it was poured with an Ottolenghi recipe for “Celery Root Steaks” along with chicken cutlets, yogurt and mustard sauce, and mashed potatoes. Sure, celery root might make you raise your eyebrows but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
The Ordinary Fellow Pinot Noir
450 cases made
If ever a wine conveyed sunny optimism, this is the one! A terrific wine for the transition to spring and patio season, it showcases a pale yet vivid ruby hue. This light, bright beauty offers Pinot’s trademark cherry notes on the palate where it meets up with raspberry then subsides with a delicately tannic finish.
350 cases made
If you like your cab to deliver a savory green bell pepper character, this is the wine for you. It finishes with red fruit and medium plus tannins. I imagine this wine is as rugged as the region’s terrain.
Are you curious about wine from Colorado? Leave a comment on my Instagram post. I’m fascinated to know what you think!
Learn more via The Ordinary Fellow website.
About the Author
Nancy Croisier, founder of VinoSocial, is on a mission to get a bottle of wine on every dinner table. Her work can be found in the Slow Wine Guide USA, Explore Washington State, and Washington Tasting Room Magazine. Connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.