In 2008 The Infinite Monkey Theorem became the first winery inside Denver city limits with a taproom in River North, one of the anchor tenants to move there before it became the hip part of town. Recently, owner and wine maker Ben Parsons took the opportunity to unveil their remodeled digs after they began with what he calls a “string and bones operation.” The new face of IMT offers a relaxing environment inside and an expansive patio completes the improvements with food trucks, DJ’s, live music and well-placed gardens.
“It makes for a nice place to hang out and come and enjoy a glass of wine,” says Parsons. “Since RiNo has grown, our sales have grown too and the volume justified an upgrade to keep our customers happy and make the space more presentable. It’s a lot more loungy, approachable. It’s really about making it feel cozy and put together like you would in your home.”
The interior is laden with eclectic, mid-modern style furniture with gilded yellow gold chairs. Afghan rugs break up the concrete floor and lots of little knick knacks and shelves find placement throughout. The bar now wraps 90 degrees so it spans around the corner to accommodate for more guests, rebuilt with reclaimed wood timbers and floor panels from retired semi-trailers that showcase a worn aesthetic. Soft mood lighting and an intentional Feng shui make you feel like you are slipping into a scene straight out of Mad Men.
The outdoor area is impressive with a multitude of seating made up of community picnic tables and patio furniture. Turntables spin as a DJ sets the vibe and a variety of potted plants and raised beds all around the perimeter give it an understated garden party feel. Large awnings stretch out overhead and a colorful, abstract mural dances across the brick exterior.
IMT also grows produce outside for organizations that assist the Denver homeless population as well as some local restaurants like Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Stoic & Genuine and Rioja. Parsons refers to it perfectly as “a mixed used space for multiple businesses.” IMT composts all their grape skins, so anything left over from the ferment finds it way back into the soil.
The space embodies the city feel and Parsons takes pride in the fact that Infinite Monkey embraces the niche of being “a real urban winery.” With that comes ingenuity and IMT’s storage and distribution techniques are revolutionary within the wine industry. In 2009 Parsons made the decision to keg their wines which eliminates 26 wasteful glass bottles per vessel.
“Glass is not a particularly sustainable packaging material and the keg is much more environmentally friendly,” explains Parsons. “The keg wine movement has grown in the state of Colorado and we are a champion of that.”
In 2010 they became the first winery in the U.S. to put sell vino in a 8.4 ounce can which is preferable since it is “100 percent and infinitely recyclable,” says Parsons passionately. “Within 60 days of you putting it in a can it could be a brand new can somewhere across the U.S. Canned wine is growing and IMT was at the forefront. You can take it anywhere. Hiking, camping, on the deck.”
Inside their taproom IMT exclusively serves “just what we make,” says Parsons so it does not operate as a wine bar with other labels. But there is a diverse list of varietals since Parsons feels “a need to have something for everyone.” IMT sources from a handful of different growers in Colorado and California to produce nine total red wines (five in bottles and four on tap) and nine white wines (three bottles, four on tap plus one sparkling). All red varietals spend an average of 11 to 18 months in French oak barrels and the only white to touch wood is their viogner.
“The whole m.o. was to put wine in a bottle with fruit from Western Colorado,” says Parsons. “We want to make wine fun and accessible and cut through the BS in the industry.”
IMT continues to gain popularity throughout the region with numerous accounts in the Colorado Springs area at The Broadmoor, The Blue Star, Coaltrain Wine & Liquor, The Wine Seller in Monument, Colorado and The Wines of Colorado in Cascade, Colorado. This year they also set up a secondary spot in Aurora, Colorado at Stanley Marketplace. The juice travels well beyond our borders though with a collection of 44 states and growing and another winery/taproom location in Austin, TX.
Parsons began his love affair with wine after completing his undergraduate degree in England and went forward to study oenology in Australia and in New Zealand. On a whim he applied for a job in Palisade, Colorado and began work at Canyon Wind Cellars. Parsons was a consultant for several wineries throughout the state before moving to Durango to make wine in Cortez, Colorado at Sutcliffe Vineyards. He admits his move in 2001 from London to Grand Junction, Colorado was a culture shock and inevitably made his way into the city to begin his own venture. To start The Infinite Monkey Theorem Parsons chose to invest his entire inheritance and now nine years later, IMT accounts for the total production of 100,000 cases of wine.
“IMT catches the whole concept of infinity and that anything is possible,” says Parsons. “It’s about creating order out of an inherently chaotic system. The challenges involved in growing grapes at altitude, making wine in a city, in a back alley…it’s so gritty and there’s a randomness where the winery creates order. We think the name really reflects the growth, location and philosophy.”
The fervent message at IMT is clear, “it’s about making wine relevant to everyone,” says Parsons simply. His efforts to bring a fickle agriculturally based craft to the mountainous regions of Colorado breeds a delicious irony that translates into an eco-aware and delicious lineup of wines. Now, with an even better backdrop.