There is no seven-year itch for the Colorado Wine Company. The Eagle Rock wine shop is more popular than ever with customers who are drawn to owner Jen Morgan and John Nugent's all-inclusive approach to selling wine and the unpretentious vibe of their weekly wine tastings.
“I would say it's our religion to be accessible,” Morgan says of the shop's welcoming attitude. “Wine is something we found to be fascinating and life-affirming and represents a faith in the belief that everything will go right,” she continues. Just like the boutique wineries and independent winemakers they vend, she and Nugent are in the wine business essentially because they love it. “The store is for people like us who just want to know about wine.”
Refreshing like a glass of chilled Lambrusco, the Colorado Wine Company is not afraid to be tongue-in-cheek — after all, its most popular tasting pairs White Trash junk food favorites with high-end wine.
Here's how the owners have stayed true to their low-key Eagle Rock location.
“We've helped make the neighborhood more aware of wine,” Morgan believes, which she sees as a reflection of the new wave of interest in good beverages. The store's customers have expanded beyond die-hard neighborhood regulars, too. Many come to the Colorado Wine Company's specialty tastings, such as a recent pouring of four small-production Italian Lambruscos, a lively boxed-wine tasting in December or the upcoming event on March 1 with Washington state winemaker John Abbott of Abeja.
Artisan-made cheese plates are available to pair with wine pours; bread comes from local baker Beth Green. With the exception of approximately 20 wines, the selection rotates frequently. Obsidian Ridge's Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon ($22.99 per bottle) is the perennial red best-seller; the white favorite varies, with the latest being the food-friendly, Edna Valley-grown Tangent Grenache Blanc ($15.99/per bottle).
Before opening the store, both Morgan and Nugent worked in Manhattan. The events of 9/11 were an epiphany for the couple who realized that “that we didn't want to do shit we didn't like anymore in the day,” Morgan says. They cashed out of New York and moved to Eagle Rock, where many of their friends lived. Morgan grew up in Los Angeles and “liked Eagle Rock for what it was already — a cul-de-sac of a town that is still Mayberry-like.”
In September, the pair expanded the business and opened a sister store, the Sunset Beer Company in Echo Park. Their irreverent and always amusing newsletter is well-read by customers. The latest edition features a “Where are they now?” write-up on past employees. “I got a shocking amount of response from that newsletter,” admits Morgan. “We become attached to customers, and our customers become attached to our employees. It's such a great enhancement to life, those relationships.” That appreciative attitude may be the secret to the Colorado Wine Company's success.
In celebration of the store's seventh anniversary, on Feb. 15 from 6 – 9 p.m. there will be “ridiculous” beverage specials and bites from the Taco Spot and the Oinkster, as “a thanks for keeping us here,” Morgan says.
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