The Infinite Possibilities of a Denver Urban Winery

As urban living continues to appeal to a new generation, an entrepreneur offers the latest in urban drinking with a winery in the concrete jungle. Infinite Monkey Theorem is pushing the envelope by producing wine in cans and letting social media enthusiasts participate in production. 
When we think of wine, we instantly think of vineyards and rolling hills in a pastoral setting. Denver’s Infinite Monkey Theorem turns this notion on its head with its urban winery, tasting room and distribution, which means selling wine in bottles and cans.
“I chose Denver to start the business because the median age is 36; it’s where everyone is moving to; and there is a burgeoning entrepreneurial restaurant scene,” says Infinite Monkey Theorem Founder Ben Parsons.

Infinite Monkey Theorem started in 2008 in an old Quonset hut in an alley near the Art District on Santa Fe and a long way from the vineyards of Colorado’s Western Slope. Since opening, the Infinite Monkey Theorem has gone from making 2,000 cases to 15,000 cases of wine annually and has received a score of 89 from Wine Spectator for its 100th Monkey wine.

“I chose Denver to start the business because the median age is 36; it’s where everyone is moving to; and there is a burgeoning entrepreneurial restaurant scene,” says Infinite Monkey Theorem Founder Ben Parsons. “The urban winery concept isn’t established in the region.”

Originally from England, Parsons followed his love of winemaking to New Zealand and Australia before applying for a job in Palisade, Colo. 

“I had no idea they had wineries in Colorado,” he says. 

Nonetheless, he got the job and is now innovating Colorado’s wine industry.  

Infinite Monkey Theorem is only one of two companies in the country to produce canned wine.Can the Can Can?
Not long after founding Infinite Monkey Theorem, Parsons started experimenting with producing wine in cans. Today, Infinite Monkey Theorem is believed to be one of only two companies in the country producing canned wine. 

“I’d never done it before and it was something that I always wanted to do because I think it opens up wine for a completely different kind of consumer base,” Parsons says. 

The cans are sold individually, but Infinite Monkey Theorem is creating a three can package for out-of-state shipping. It costs $6 a can, a third the price of a bottle. The single unit sale is appealing to consumers as is the portability.

“You can take it hiking, skiing, to the baseball stadium, to a music venue,” Parsons says.

It took more than a year of testing to ensure putting the wine in a can would not create what Parsons calls “off flavors associated with putting wine in a can.”

“It’s a completely different beast putting any product in can compared to a bottle,” he says. 

In fitting with the urban theme, the canned wine includes Back Alley Red, Back Alley Rose, Back Alley White and Black Muscat. Infinite Monkey introduced three new varietals in the summer of 2012 and will probably add more in the future.

“It’s just a fun, accessible way of getting the products to a younger consumer who I guess is a little bit frustrated with wine and how elitist and pretentious it can seem,” Parsons says. 

Marketing Via Urban Grape Stomping The wine tasting area of Infinite Monkey Theorem.
Physically, canning wine takes as much effort as bottling wine. The challenge lies in marketing -- consumers aren’t used to canned wine. How does Infinite Monkey Theorem convince them to give it a try?

As one of the first companies to produce canned wine, Infinite Monkey Theorem’s innovative approach extends to its marketing strategy, which involves inviting social media followers to visit the winery and participate in the wine making process. 

“We’ve been successful with this reactive social media base where if we are bottling wine, we’ll say come help,” Parsons explains. “During harvest, we have tons of grapes and we invite people to come down and help shovel grapes. People love it!”

Those tons of grapes come from Colorado’s Western Slope. In fact, 95 percent of the grapes used in Infinite Monkey Theorem wines come from Colorado. 

“Everyone wants to learn about a process that they don’t really understand,” Parsons says of the choice to invite people to be part of the winemaking. “How many people know where their food or their wine comes from? It opens up people’s eyes.”

Infinite Monkey Theorem recently expanded into a new location in RiNo, a corner of downtown that has been exploding since artists began colonizing former industrial spaces a few years ago. 

“It’s a very gritty kind of urban setting,” Parsons says. “There are a lot of young entrepreneurs, restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, architectural companies and it seems like it’s growing pretty rapidly. It’s nice to be around other companies that have gone through similar challenges and have similar ambitions.”

For a taste of Infinite Monkey Theorem wines, look for the “Wine Lab” sign on the enormous concrete building that comprise its headquarters. They offer tasting room hours and tours by appointment. Infinite Monkey Theorem wines are sold on tap and in bottles as various local restaurants including Potager and Table 6, as well as at local liquor stores such as Argonaut and Mondo Vino

Photos by Kara Pearson Gwinn

Read more articles by Mindy Sink.

Mindy is a freelance writer and author of Walking DenverMoon Handbooks Guide to Denver and co-author of Colorado Organic: Cooking Seasonally, Eating Locally
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