Exclusive first look: Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery and Wine Lab
Yesterday afternoon, just hours before Ben Parsons would unveil his new wine lab, part of the 30,000 square-foot plot he leased last year in RiNo that's now the quarters of the Infinite Monkey Theorem manufacturing facility and tasting/taproom (Parsons refers to it as a wine lab), the British-born winemaker was donning black galoshes, climbing on top of barrels and peering downward into huge vats, one with pear cider, the other a ruby rosé.
Parsons, who relocated to the behemoth space in June of this year, following four years in an 1,800 square-foot converted Quonset hut located in the Santa Fe Arts District, was gearing up for last night's soft opening of the wine lab, which may very well be the most unpretentious tasting room that you've ever seen, especially if you hang out in Napa or Sonoma, or, for that matter, Palisades, where the fancy tasting rooms -- and the staffs that run them -- sometimes come off as showy and hollow.
The wine lab, overseen by Brandon Bortles, the former GM of Zengo, is not that kind of tasting room. "We wanted to do something urban and gritty," says Parsons, whose original blueprints didn't include a tasting room at all. "We had originally wanted to sublet the space -- we weren't sure we were ready to pull off a tasting room -- but the more we thought about it, the more it seemed like we should do it and just see what happens," he adds. The fact that dwellers in the RiNo neighborhood were often wandering inside to inquire if they could taste Parsons's wines, only made the decision easier.
The tasting room, which pours only IMT wines, available by the glass, bottle or can, along with a filtered pear cider that Parsons served for the first time last night, is stylishly immodest, strewn with retro sofas and chairs, cement floors inked with orange triangles and abstract swishes and swirls and hand-crafted wooden tables constructed with reclaimed timber, including draft tables with glass centers illuminated by the glow of the light below that passes through. There's a weathered wooden community table that seats twenty, an old vending machine tricked-out with the metallic IMT logo and IMT wine bottles, recreated as lights, that dangle from the ceiling.
"We've designed a community-focused wine lab for people to come in, hang out with friends and chill out with a glass of wine, or two, and and while we're happy to educate people about our wines if that's what they want, we're not going to force it down their throats," says Parsons, who also adds that he now has the ability to pull out unfinished wines from his manufacturing plant and serve them to guests. "One of the really cool things that we can do is serve wine in various stages, and let people taste them side by side, and, if they want, to even blend them to see what they like. It's a unique experience."