Wine Ink: Hotel Boulderado Country — another great Wine Town

Kelly J. Hayes
Wine Ink

Next Wednesday, a group of wine lovers will converge in the historic Hotel Boulderado in downtown Boulder, Colorado, for a soldout gathering of the hotel’s wine club. There, they will listen as master sommelier Doug Krenik ushers them through a tasting of the wines of a premier Oregon winemaker, Stoller Family Estate. They will dine on appetizers paired and prepared exclusively by chef John Payne from the hotel’s Spruce Farm and Fish dining room. And they will passionately discuss the wines from the Willamette Valley and Dundee Hills that will be poured.

Chef Payne says the monthly gatherings help to bring members of the wine community together. “The wine club is a great opportunity for us to get together with our customers and guests and share some of the items from our menu and introduce them to new wineries.” It is just one example of the offerings available in a great wine town like Boulder.

A great wine town does not have to be in wine country or a major city. A community of wine lovers, coupled with a plethora of wine centric restaurants and a couple of authentically solid wine shops, can help a town like Boulder build a wine reputation. And Boulder has done just that.

It can be argued that Boulder’s wine chops first took shape nearly 50 years ago when Don Monette of the Flagstaff House, which sits above the city and boasts epic views, began to collect wines for the fine dining menu. Since the Monette family took the reins of the 90-year-old facility in 1971 they have built one of Colorado’s most impressive cellars, holding over 15,000 bottles of wine.

This summer the Flagstaff House was awarded a Wine Spectator Grand Award, one of the most prestigious honors a restaurant wine list can receive, for the 36th consecutive year. They are just one of three, including Element 47 at The Little Nell hotel in Aspen and Barolo Grill in Denver, to receive the award in Colorado.

Below the rarified air of the Flagstaff House, on the main streets of historic downtown Boulder, there are a number of other destination restaurants that provide selections of great wines. The Kitchen American Bistro has a number of hand-selected wines to go with their farm-to-table offerings and there are not many places where you’ll find an Arnot Roberts ‘Que’ Syrah 2016 Sonoma Coast on the list. Oak at Fourteenth’s bar and wine program, as conceived by Bryan Dayton and executive chef Steve Redzikowski, are world-class. And Craig and Samantha Cordts-Pearce recently opened Steakhouse No. 316 has a great list to pair with the big cuts of meat on the menu.

But if there is one destination wine restaurant in Boulder it would have to be Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson’s Frasca Food & Wine. Founded in 2004 to celebrate the foods and wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia of Northern Italy, the restaurant quickly found a following among the nation’s culinary cognoscenti. Stuckey, a master sommelier whose resume includes both The Little Nell in Aspen and Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in the Napa Valley, curated a wine list that celebrated classics along with wines from new producers that were never seen in the foothills of the Rockies before. It was a game-changer.

In addition, Stuckey created a culture of quality and many Frasca employees have gone on to populate other Boulder establishments, spreading the gospel of great wine. In May of this year, Frasca Food & Wine was rewarded with a James Beard Award for Outstanding Service to go along with their 2013 Best Wine Program Beard Award.

If you are heading to Boulder for a wine sojourn, the Hotel Boulderado, walking distance from each of these downtown wine destinations, is the perfect place to hang your hat. Not only is it a great place to imbibe, the Corner Bar and License No. 1 are tailor-made for microbrew lovers and classic cocktail aficionados, it also features chef Payne’s the farm fresh cuisine. The Spruce Farm and Fish offers wine selections by the glass and has a compact but complete list that pairs well with the dishes. The staff is knowledgeable and provides recommendations and small pours for guests to sample the wines. A recent dinner of fresh Verlasso Salmon with a Moroccan chickpea ragout coupled with a Close Pegase Estate Mitsuko’s Vineyard Chardonnay was a summer highlight.

Another joy is staying in the historic hotel that dates back to a 1909 opening. The terraced, wood-framed lobby is a terrific place to hang out and people watch as guests and Boulder locals come through to wine and dine. The authentic, period guest rooms provide a vibe from the early days of the last century, while offering updated modern amenities and comforts. It is this combination of historic Colorado and today’s Boulder that make the experience so invigorating.

If you are in need of a wine destination vacation, Boulder fits the bill.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass. He can be reached at

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