House Dems in good spirits at their wine fundraiser - Colorado Politics

House Dems in good spirits at their wine fundraiser

Author: Ben Weinberg - October 7, 2013 - Updated: October 7, 2013

Tasting the Best of Colorado with House Democrats

I’ve previously mentioned that part of my mission is to let you know about various beverage-related events held throughout our great state. One such happening, and by far the most politically connected one I’ve ever attended, occurred on Sept. 26 when I joined House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, and other members of the House Democratic Caucus for an evening of Colorado beers, wines, spirits and eats at the Space Gallery in the Santa Fe Drive art district.

The first hour consisted of a VIP-level, private tasting and presentation of Colorado wineries, breweries and distilleries, featuring the Great Divide and Renegade breweries, the Infinite Monkey Theorem winery, and Leopold Bros. spirits. Once the general-level ticket holders were admitted I moved to the front hallway, where I tried some of New Belgium’s newest beers and cupped coffee from Camino Coffee before I tore into a selection of sandwiches and fresh cooked kettle chips from Uber Sausage. Everything tasted great, as it should, because those of us who focus on Colorado’s homegrown, artisanal producers already know just how amazing they really are.

Don Eberle, former director of external affairs West Region at MCI, listens to animated House Speaker Mark Ferrandino at a reception with the House Democratic Caucus on Sept. 26. For $5,000, guests at Space Gallery joined the Speaker for a private tasting and presentation of Colorado’s own Leopold Bros. spirits and Infinite Monkey Theorem wine.

For the non-beverage-focused folks who showed up, however, food and wine were only part of the attraction. Attendee Bill Soards, president of AT&T Colorado, believes it is crucially important for people in his position to be involved in these sorts of happenings. “Business leaders need to participate in the political process. Having opportunities to educate elected officials about policies and trends in the business world help them make informed decisions and improve Colorado’s economy.”

President of AT&T Colorado Bill Soards, left, enjoys a locally produced beverage as he converses with Mark Soltes of CenturyLink, and Adam Eichberg of Headwaters Strategies.

House Majority Project
PO Box 181413
Denver, CO 80218
Shelby Miller with the
House Majority Project
Sadie Hansen with Priorities for Colorado

Space Gallery
765 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204
Tel: (720) 904-1088
Hours: Friday 12:00–6:00

Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, chats with Sadie Hansen, finance director for Colorado Democrats, at the House Majority Project event at The Space Gallery.

The Lineup

In order to appease a crowd of hungry and thirsty lobbyists and press, Ron Vaughn of Argonaut Liquors, a key sponsor of the event, definitely brought out the big guns. My favorites included The Infinite Monkey Theorem’s 2012 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend ($20/750mL), a lime-colored concoction that smelled of white peach and grapefruit while tasting of tutti-frutti ice cream and a bit of ash on the finish.

Collon Kennedy of Colorado Communiqué, left, and Mark Soltes, director of state legislative affairs for CenturyLink, listens to House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, talk about the Democratic Caucus in the House and the importance of maintaining control of that chamber.

Great Divide Brewery’s Rumble Oak Aged IPA ($10/six-pack of 12oz. bottles) showed amber in the glass and came with hints of nutmeg, honeyed apricot, bitter almond and coconut macaroon. By way of contrast, the Leopold Bros. Rocky Mountain Peach Flavored Whiskey ($37/750mL), made from Colorado peaches, was more tawny and brown, with elements of brown sugar and cedar dancing with black cherry and black pepper.

Spencer Guthrie, right, director of state government affairs at GlaxoSmithKline, visits with state Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, left, and lobbyist Amy Redfern, middle, with Aponte & Busam.

AT&T’s Soard, an adult beverage aficionado, enjoys discussing politics and business issues with friends in a casual environment. “Historically, conversations about policy and business have happened over good food and beverage. I love it when chefs and sommeliers take the time to suggest what products can enhance the palate. It makes for an enjoyable experience because they understand what draws out flavor and the overall experience.”

Argonaut Wine & Liquor’s Ron Vaughn, left, looks at some of the distilled spirits made at Scott Leopold’s family owned and operated small batch distillery located in Denver during a reception at Space Gallery for the House Democratic Caucus on Sept. 26.

The Fine Print

Colorado has so many excellent, locally owned food and beverage businesses, and this was a great showcase for their products. I should probably mention that this particular event was a fundraiser for the House Majority Project, which is itself an initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party. All contributions to the House Majority Project are aggregated with contributions to the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund and the Colorado Democratic Party and are limited to $2,825 per calendar year for individuals, sole proprietorships, LLPs, LLCs and state PACs, and $14,225 per calendar year for Small Donor Committees. Contributions are not tax-deductible, and those from corporations, labor unions, foreign governments and non U.S. citizens are strictly prohibited.

Josh Phair, director of public affairs and government relations for Walmart’s Mountain Division, and Bruce Dierking, general manager of Hazel’s Beverage World in Boulder, listen to welcoming remarks.

Upcoming Fun – Stuff You Can Actually Attend in the Future

Try Before You Buy Wine Tasting

Want to know the best way to figure out if you like a particular wine or wine style before you buy it? Then come to this open house tasting of 30 different wines, all classified according to wine style. Sip your way through smooth, intense, delicate and sweet wines for only $20 per person or $35 per couple. Small bite appetizers will be provided and all wines will be available for retail purchase with special discounts on select bottles.

Will Coyne, left, and Adam Eichberg, right, both of Headwaters Strategies, flank state Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood, during the House Majority Project fundraiser at Space Gallery.

When: Friday, Oct. 11 from 5-8 p.m.

Where: A Bottled Affair, 1543 Champa St., Denver, CO 80202

Tickets: $20/person

Tel: (303) 534-1955


Ben Parsons, CEO and winemaker at The Infinite Monkey Theorem in Denver, left, pours a sample of housemade red wine for Dennis Dinsmore, managing partner/owner at Wilbur’s Total Beverage in Fort Collins, right, as Colorado Statesman columnist and certified sommelier Ben Weinberg, center, looks on during the House Majority Project event on Sept. 26

Photos by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Harvest Festival at Kingman Estates Winery

Celebrate the grape with live music by Matt Hoffman, gourmet Colorado brats by Dogtown Concessions, a Colorado wine blending competition, a cigar and wine pairing (outside under a tent), complimentary wine tastings, face painting (included with ticket), and $5 glasses of wine. Families are welcome and children are free.

The music starts at 3 p.m., and one cigar is provided along with a one-ounce pour of Chairman’s Reserve Riesling. Additional glasses are $5, and the wine blending competition is done table by table, with four wine bottles provided from which to build your best blend from 4-5:30 p.m. The top table blends are judged by all participants, with winners each getting a free bottle of wine. Each ticket also provides one gourmet Colorado brat with additional brats available (children who come with ticket holders get one brat apiece). Wine tastings include one ounce pours of up to four wines, glasses are $5, and face painting is for everyone with a ticket (or children with a ticket holder) from 2-4 p.m.

When: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2-6 p.m.

Where: Kingman Estates Winery, 800 E. 64th Ave., Denver, CO 80229

Tickets: $35/advance, $40/door

Tel: (720) 369-3164


Food & Wine: The Art of Pairing

This is a unique tasting class led by wine writer and Certified Sommelier Ashley Vaughters. Learn the basic principles of wine and food pairing and discover why proper pairing can substantially enhance virtually any dish. Ashley will walk you through a few simple rules, dispel common myths about the dos and don’ts, and lead you through a series of food and wine tasting exercises so that you can experience first-hand the art of food and wine pairing. Advance purchase required and seating is limited.

When: Saturday, Oct. 26, from 3-5 p.m.

Where: A Bottled Affair, 1543 Champa St., Denver, CO 80202

Tickets: $50/person

Tel: (303) 534-1955


The Chef & Brew Festival

Join me at the wildly popular Chef & Brew Festival, back for its second year in Denver. This action-packed event, named “Best New Festival” by Westword readers, will feature 15 top chefs and the same number of local brewers in a competition to create the ultimate beer and food pairing. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample a plethora of one-of-a-kind food alongside the best craft beers the Colorado Front Range has to offer.

Beer and food will be served in a tasting format — two-ounce beer pours paired alongside an appetizer from each chef. Guests will receive a souvenir tasting glass and have full access to all beers and food. The 2012 festival sold out well in advance and this year’s tickets are selling even quicker. I will be there reporting on the day’s events so be sure to get your passes early in order to join me.

When: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013

VIP: 6-10 p.m., GA 7-10 p.m.

Where: EXDO Event Center, 1399 35th St., Denver, CO 80205.

Tickets: GA – $49/advance, $59/door

VIP – $59/advance, $69/door


Certified sommelier and editor-in-chief Ben Weinberg, JD, MBA, pens Weinberg’s Wine Tech in Sommelier Journal and has written for the Daily Beast, Worth Magazine, The World of Fine Wine, Wine Enthusiast, and The Tasting Panel Magazine, where he is the Rocky Mountain Editor. He also leads luxurious, behind-the-scenes tours of the world’s most famous wine regions via Ben can be reached at

See the Oct. 4 print edition for full photo coverage.

Ben Weinberg

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