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The Winery: Wild Women Winery
The People: After following successful and stable career paths for nearly three decades, Charlene and Ross Meriwether stumbled across an opportunity to open a franchise winery in northern Texas. Although they had no direct experience with winemaking or retail sales, Charlene—a teacher-turned-educational consultant—and Ross, an IT professional, decided to jump off the proverbial cliff. They opened three successful wineries in Texas before leaping upon a new opportunity to launch one in Colorado.
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The Space: Located less than a block off the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, Wild Women Winery occupies two beautifully updated, century-old buildings that still feature some of the original stonework. After expanding the space four years ago, the Meriwethers created a cozy, Tuscan-style tasting room with a long bar, comfortable dining-room-style tables and chairs, warm golden walls, and plenty of fun wine-related décor.
The Grapes: A boutique winery, Wild Women purchases crushed grape juice from growers in California’s Central Valley. After arriving in Denver, the juice is fermented, blended, and bottled on site, and the entire process is open to public viewing.
The Wine: Since this is a second career for both Meriwethers, they are not afraid to experiment—and to have some fun. This is most evident in their colorful labels and their fruit-flavored wines, to which Ross, the winery’s vintner, sometimes adds dried fruit to create the desired flavor. Wild Women’s best-seller is the Blackberry Splash Merlot, a sweet wine with a pronounced blackberry nose that is ideal for serving chilled on a hot summer afternoon. Ross has also experimented with other nontraditional ingredients, such as chocolate, coffee beans, and even black peppercorns, which he sometimes adds to the Tempranillo, their most popular red wine, to give it a little extra peppery zing.
Buzzed Trivia: In addition to serving their wines, which come in both standard and 9-ounce “Big Girl” glasses, Wild Women Winery encourages customers to create their own 30-bottle batches. Ross guides the participants through the entire process, from fermentation to bottling, corking, and custom labeling.
Taste it: Wild Women Winery offers wine tastings every day but Monday, including extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays. For $5 you can enjoy a taste of three wines of your choice (or 7 for $10). During your visit, be sure to try the Naked Chardonnay, a crisp, golden white distinguished by its amusing label and its lack of time on oak, which can obscure the grape’s true taste (hence the name). I also recommend Ross’s Hot in Heels Zinfandel/Syrah blend. This unusual grape combination has a smooth texture and spicy taste with a smoky finish that pairs wonderfully with sharp cheeses and spicy Thai food.
Take Home: The winery sells plenty of wine accessories, including many made by local artists, as well as cheese plates and tempting chocolate desserts. If you indulge in a sweet treat, pair it with Wild Women Winery’s Royal Ruby Chocolate Port, a delicious fortified dessert wine with a distinct chocolate finish that just might tame your wild side—temporarily, at least.
Visit: Wild Women Winery is located at 1660 Champa St.; 303-534-0788