Jon Schlegel may be known in Denver for his beloved breakfast joint, Snooze, which he opened with his partner and brother, Adam, back in 2006. (After all, their breakfast chain is outrageously successful; there are now 40 locations across Colorado, Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and California, with Georgia and Missouri getting their taste later this year.) But pancakes aside, Schlegel had another lifelong dream, and as of January 10, two doors away from Snooze’s original location on Larimer Street, Schlegel saw it come to fruition: his next sure-to-be-successful endeavor, Attimo Winery.
The new tasting room and production facility, housed in a former pawn shop, is the product of Schlegel’s life goal of living abroad by the age of 40. (The first was to open a restaurant by the age of 30. Check.) In 2013, after Schlegel turned 40, he and his wife, Megan, and then three-year-old son Tre, followed that dream, leaving Denver for Piedmont, Italy, where they lived and worked for two years. There, in their adopted village of Monforte d’Alba, Schlegel dove into the world of winemaking, studying alongside his new neighbors and friends to learn all he could about growing, pruning, harvesting, and crushing the pristine grapes that Italian wine region is famous for. “I wanted to understand how wine went from soil to bottle,” Schlegel says. In 2015, he even bought his own vineyard, and after returning to the States so Tre could attend kindergarten here, Schlegel began working to bring the flavors of those grapes—and now, his own Attimo wines—to Denver.
At Attimo (Italian for “moment”), Schlegel has created a gorgeous-yet-comfortable gathering place where affordable wines flow from eight taps and classic Italian bar snacks are on the menu. Megan designed the interior of the airy, tile-embellished, two-level space in conjunction with Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects, incorporating a luxe lounge area, an eight-seat bar, and a dining area lit by sparkling glass decanter light fixtures into the tasting room, with the production space housed in the back of the building. The second floor holds a large private events space overlooking the winery’s aging and fermenting tanks, where up to 100 people can gather; come spring, the outside piazza will host movie nights and other community-oriented events.
The wines flowing from Attimo’s taps are special, not only because Schlegel crafts them with the help of friend and winemaker David Fletcher from grapes grown in Barolo, one of the most respected wine regions in the world, but also because Schlegel managed to convince the Italian and U.S. governments to allow Attimo to designate its Barolo variety as Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), the highest possible marker of quality for an Italian wine. And that’s despite the fact that the wine is finished in Denver, not in Piedmont. “70 percent of the work [that goes into making a wine] is done in the soil,” Schlegel says. “All of our wines go through first fermentation in Italy, then we stabilize, age, and finish them here in Denver. But it’s against all odds that the Italians let us label them as DOCG.”
Apart from that 2015 Barolo DOCG, Attimo is also currently pouring three whites, a sparkling wine, a rosato, and five reds, including a 2016 Barbaresco DOCG and an easy-drinking Dolcetto. There’s a small roster of Campari-centric cocktails, too, that go exceptionally well with the snack menu, which was developed by Schlegel’s Piedmont neighbors, chefs Amy Bellotti (a Colorado native) and Marc Lanteri of Michelin-starred Lanteri Restaurant. The tender, beef-short-rib-stuffed agnolotti del plin and the burrata board (which comes with pickled veggies and Füdmil focaccia) are early standouts, while “lecca-lecca di prosciutto” (breadsticks wrapped in prosciutto) and gorgeous charcuterie boards are perfect matches for Attimo’s vinous offerings.
At Attimo’s opening, Schlegel called this “un grande attimo,” a great moment, as his dream of bringing his own Italian wines to Denver is now a reality. The fact that his new winery is as gorgeous as the wines he’s pouring—and rooted in the Ballpark neighborhood, on the same block where his restaurant dream came to life—are ample enough reasons to pop a few corks.
2246 Larimer St., 720-287-4988. Bottles of Attimo wine range from $12–75 at the winery or at more than 100 Denver restaurant and retail locations. Attimo’s Wine Club starts at $25 per month; check out the benefits here.