Reflections on PWC’s first anniversary…

Pearl Wine sign (anniversary)

Hanging our sign, November 2015.

What a year! It is hard to believe Pearl Wine Company (PWC) will celebrate its first anniversary his month. Looking back, it is amazing to think we arrived at this time and place. The PWC story started years ago while waiting tables in college and falling in love with wine and with the people who pour heart and soul into every vintage. The core of Pearl Wine Company’s philosophy is anchored in a belief in the power of people and of craft. Real Wine. Real People.

This philosophy developed over the past 15-plus years in the wine and beverage industry. I remember coming home one Thanksgiving and my mom asking me about a particular wine and what I thought about it. I went on to explain to her that the wine was really developed in a factory which produces “shiners.” Shiners is a term most consumers do not know about. A “shiner” in the wine industry refers to finished bottles of wine (juice, bottle, cork and capsule) which are “complete” and are just waiting for a label to be added.

Going further into this idea: a wine company representative buys X amount of shiners of whatever varietal, and they slap a label on it. Then, they put these shiners out into the market. It is possible to buy two different bottles of wine featuring two different labels and to have the same juice to be inside.

After explaining this to my mother, she promptly said “well I don’t want to buy those. How do I know when a bottle is real or not?” This, it turns out, is not an easy question to answer. The simple answer would seem to be to buy wine made by family-owned and family-operated wineries. Easier said than done, though. In a sea of labels it is almost impossible to know who made what. In fact, almost 50 percent of all wine in the market is controlled or made by five companies!

Mom, sanding (anniversary)

Mom, sanding the store shelves. A true believer!

Thus it was from this conversation with my mother that the idea for Pearl Wine Company started to take shape.

Almost five years ago I started working on the business plan for a bottle shop based on the philosophy and ideas above. Four years ago I was given the opportunity to move from Colorado to Washington, D.C., to work for Folio Fine Wine Partners, a wine importer owned by Michael Mondavi, his son Rob and daughter Dina. Their company is based on the same philosophy that families, not corporate entities, make the best wine in the world. This experience helped further my love of family-owned and operated wineries.

During this time, though, I never lost the dream of one day opening a bottle shop of my own which would embody these ideas. Over the next three years, while living in D.C., I was constantly on the look for a location in Denver. Eighteen months ago I received a call from longtime friend Jean-Philippe (owner of Park Burger). I still remember his words: “I think I have a location for you!”

It was right next to door to him, and the rest is history.

Things started to quickly take shape. The next thing I knew, my wife and I were packing our car and moving back to Denver! I pulled into Denver on November 1st, 2015. We opened our doors November 20th! It was a quick turn aroundone which could not of been done without the help of my friends and family. It gives me goosebumps to think back on all the help we received, and from so many people. Everything in store was built by family and friends. My father and father-in-law built all the shelves, my friends did all the welding, my mom painted everything along with longtime friend and employee Trish. Our counter was built by our friend Arron (who happens to be the assistant brewer at Black Shirt Brewery). Everyone chipped in to get the store open. We were only able to open half of what is now the current store while waiting for approval from the city to expand.

Stocking shelves (anniversary)

Stocking the shelves. So close!

In March of 2016 we expanded the store to the full vision.

Carrie and I could not feel more blessed. Our store is located in one of the great neighborhoods of Denver (in our minds, though, the best). We have amazing employees (a big thank you to Trish, Josh, Grant and Jared!), the support of our unflagging family and a neighborhood which has embraced us. We look forward to many years of being Platt Park’s neighborhood bottle shop. We will continue to expand our selection and will be adding a cellar to our store in 2017!

Thank you mom for the idea 🙂


Anniversary banner

1st Anniversary Tasting 

It’s hard to believe we’ve been open one year already! To celebrate, we’re hosting a grand tasting at DU’s School of Hospitality. We will be opening 200+ wines along with a few of our favorite whiskeys. In addition to being able to try everything, we will be offering you special event-only pricing! This is going to be a great way to pick out a few favorites for your Thanksgiving dinner or stock up for the holidays 🙂

Event Details: 
Wednesday, November 9th, 5:00-8:30pm
DU University’s Joy Burns Center
2044 E. Evans Avenue, Denver
(light appetizers also provided)

Discover why 5280 Magazine Readers and Editors voted Pearl Wine Company Denver’s BEST BOTTLE SHOP. PWC takes pride in being Denver’s best wine shop–a craft liquor specialty store. Conveniently located on South Pearl Street in Denver’s Platt Park neighborhood.