If you go
What: What We Love Winery grand opening
When: 1-6 p.m. Saturday
Where: 1501 Lee Hill Road, No. 14, Boulder
If you go
What: Settembre Cellars Winery & Tasting Room grand opening
When: 1-6 p.m. May 24-25
Where: 1501 Lee Hill Road, No. 16, Boulder
It's a love story.
That's as good a description as any as to how the opening of a new winery in Boulder came about.
Three years ago, Michael Hasler, then living in New Zealand, took an Alaskan cruise for his 50th birthday. He met a Boulder woman, Carolee Corey, on the trip.
"We enjoyed each other's company. I followed her back to Boulder," Hasler says.
The story is more complex than that, though. Hasler's trip took place after the death, from cancer, of his first wife, Eva, in 2007.
"It sort of ripped the guts out of me," he says.
The two had worked together to build an ecolodge in New Zealand, but after Eva's death, he lost his passion for the project. Thus, on a whim, he found himself on the cruise where he met Corey. After building various items such as benches for her day care center, The Strawberry Farm, Hasler returned to New Zealand and put the lodge on the market.
Back in Boulder, he began to tinker with winemaking. His experimentation had a solid base of knowledge. An Australian by birth, Hasler had received a degree in wine science in that country and worked in the wine industry there, as well as in California and France.
At the ecolodge, he had created an unusual mulled wine, made from red wine, dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla and spices. He met John Garlich of BookCliff Winery and began making some wine in his spare time.
"I had time on my hands. I was just playing around, looking at what I wanted to do," he says. "It then sort of jelled into a business plan."
His first wine, a bottled version of the mulled wine, came out last fall. It was called Decadent Saint. The wine, at 41 proof, could be consumed straight like a port, or it could be diluted and heated for mulled wine.
At What We Love's opening this week, Hasler will introduce a summery Decadent Saint sangria, made from red wine, orange, black currant, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. The sangria, which is also 41 proof and can be diluted with seltzer, will be available at the opening.
In addition to the sangria, Hasler has several varietals such as chardonnay and sauvignon blanc to sell, most made from California grapes. The California grapes will contrast with BookCliff's offerings, and another winery, Settembre Cellars, will open the following weekend, offering another consumer option in the same building.
Tracy Eliasson of Settembre, who owns the winery with her husband, Blake, says they had been looking for a new space for their seven-year-old business, which had manufacturing facilities in their garage on Grape Street in Boulder. The spot they found, between BookCliff and What We Love, will open Memorial Day weekend. The three wineries will combine marketing efforts, opening their tasting rooms at the same time and putting together events such as progressive dinners among the wineries with local chefs. The name of their combined effort will be Boulder Wine Studios. That coordination is set to begin in June.
"There are lots of opportunities," Garlich says, adding that having three wineries to try offers a destination experience, one that might could draw Denverites, as well as folks from Longmont and further north.
Eliasson says customers can experience three different wine styles in one trip.
"It's a great way for locavores to learn about Colorado wines," she says.
For Hasler, the winery opening represents a story coming to fruition. He's using the wine experience from his youth and the business skills he learned at the lodge.
He and Corey married in August.
"We crushed grapes three days later. There was no honeymoon," he says.
When they had the logo created for their wines, the artist came up with a Celtic heart. That was the way Hasler's first wife always drew hearts.
"It's funny," he says. "(It all came) full circle with the heart on the bottle. It was like a message from Eva."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Cindy Sutter at 303-473-1335 or firstname.lastname@example.org