Infinite Monkeys Invading Austin

Urban winery founded in Denver will open Texas outpost in November

by Jane Firstenfeld
Winemaker Ben Parsons bought used equipment to outfit his new Infinite Monkey Theorem winery in Austin, Texas.
Austin, Texas—Infinite Monkey Theorem (IMT), an innovative urban winery founded in Denver, Colo., in 2008, will open another urban outpost in Austin on Nov. 16, according to owner/winemaker Ben Parsons. Operating from a Quonset hut and something resembling a food truck in an industrial neighborhood, IMT distinguished itself in the Denver market by introducing canned wines in 2011 and providing 3- and 5-gallon reusable kegs of wine to local customers including many bars and restaurants. It now produces the equivalent of 15,000 cases annually.

The new venue on trendy South Congress Avenue in Austin is situated to tap into a community of 30- to-40-year olds dwelling in nearby apartments and lofts, Parsons told Wines & Vines this week. “Austin is the fastest growing metro area in the U.S.,” he noted.

“The Denver operation is like a tap room—all locals. We’re looking for the local trade in Austin.” There is also ample parking: “You can’t go anywhere in Texas without a car,” the British-born Parsons observed.

Denver will remain the IMT’s headquarters, with an assist from a new winemaker with roots in Walla Walla, Wash. Fruit for Denver is sourced mostly from Colorado’s Western Slope; the Iberian varieties
Albariño and Verdelho are imported from vineyards in Lodi, Calif.

Production in Austin will use Texas grapes. Nearing the end of harvest in the state, “We’ve harvested maybe 50 tons of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Tempranillo, Malbec and Chenin Blanc,” Parsons said. “The wines will bear the Texas appellation. We won’t be shipping: There won’t be enough to ship,” he said.

To set up the new operation, Parsons bought only used equipment. “It doesn’t make sense to purchase new equipment” for a small winery, he said. Among his acquisitions was a Mori membrane press for his red varieties. The Chenin Blanc was pressed by Kim McPherson, owner/winemaker of 10,000-case McPherson Cellars in Lubbock and a Texas wine “pioneer”.

The Austin winery, housed in a 6,000 square-foot warehouse space, will have a tasting room and an event area in addition to wine production. It will feature live music with a “pro-cabaret license,” Parsons said. After a soft opening, it will launch with a “Big Friday bash with a band and food,” he said, where staff will be pouring from kegs and offering canned wines.

Austin already is home to at least one urban winery: Austin Winery, a tiny, 500-case operation founded in 2014.

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