Wine by way of university—it's not the usual course for someone who ends up making his own juice. But that's how Denver transplant Eric Eide found his calling. Bartending at spots such as Cliff Young's and Brook's Steak House & Cellar, among other spots, was a means of paying for school when, quite unexpectely, Eide fell in love with the industry.
After working for distributors and importers, Eide came to revere Burgundy and Pinot Noir for the grape's fragility and tempermental nature. "[Pinot Noir] wears its heart on its sleeve," he says. In 2009, he began his own label, Aberrant Cellars (so named for his unusual journey), making wine in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Eide splits his time between Colorado and Oregon, and to date he's produced one wine, Confero, an Old World-style Pinot Noir that retails for about $35 at shops such as Mondo Vino. The boutique sip (560 cases)—which is subtle on the front end, earthy, and rich in dried dark fruit on the finish—has made quite an impression: It's one of the few Wilamette Valley Pinots on Frasca Food and Wine's list. You can also order it by the glass at Sushi Den and Hodsons Bar & Grill.
Tip: Keep an eye out for Eide's second wine, Carpe Noctem, which is due for release in June or July. He refers to this as a statement wine (only 270 cases were produced, and it'll retail somewhere in the ballpark of $45). After a taste—even as it's still aging—I have to agree: There's a mid-palate "boom" factor that's sensual and beguiling, and makes you want more.