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Where to Drink Now: Bigsby’s Folly

Urban wineries are the way to go

Big things are happening on Brighton Street. A few years ago, the area was a hodgepodge of old industrial buildings, storage units, and long strips of no man’s land. However, with the introduction of high-end businesses and concepts—including The Source and the coworking/mixed used space INDUSTRY, to name a few—the area has undergone rapid changes. Under a constant barrage of construction, the strip now boasts a new wave of businesses, restaurants, and high-rise apartments. Old buildings are even being refreshed and repurposed to cater to the new area. Sure, the construction is a pain, but we recommend making the journey through the orange cones (preferably via Lyft) to discover something entirely new. One swanky concept worth the trek: Bigsby’s Folly {3563 Wazee Street, Denver; 720.485.3158}.

bigsby's folly

Photo courtesy of Teri Fotheringham Photography

Behind the winery

Owners Chad and Marla Yetka have always had a love for the wine industry. The couple dreamed of settling in Napa Valley after retirement, with the hopes of opening their own winery. But once Chad was laid off from his career in oil and gas, the duo decided to make the jump to the wine industry. Instead of opting for a prime space in Golden State wine country, the duo decided to stay local and introduce the varietals of California to Denver with Bigsby’s Folly.

Opened on June 16, Bigsby’s Folly introduces high-quality wines without all the pretension. “What brew pubs have done for beer, that’s what we want do with our winery,” says Marla. To that end, the concept mission is to make wine more approachable through education and community-building.

The space

Built in 1886, the 7,000-square-foot warehouse has seen its fair share of tenants—from an automotive shop to rock drillers and, most recently, a mixed storage unit. While still retaining its charm with well-worn brick and exposed timber, the space has been refurbished into an incredibly swanky spot, emulating the roaring ’20s with retro green lounge chairs and a gorgeous, glittering chandelier crowning the sleek, wooden bar. The space also houses a barrel-aging room, a full-on production facility—soon to experience its first “crush” this fall—and a private tasting room.  Just in time for the season, the winery completed two dog-friendly patios with outdoor games and a firepit for watching the sun go down.

What to drink

bigsby's folly

To bring the dream alive, the Yetkas brought in the help of two-award winning winemakers, Brian Graham and Chris Nelson. Graham studied techniques of Old World winemaking at the châteaux of Bordeaux and Burgundy while Nelson brings over a decade of experience to BF, cutting his teeth at wineries in California, Washington, and New Zealand. Graham will source a variety of the best grapes in Napa Valley while Nelson will serve as the onsite winemaker.

One of the only wineries in Denver to hold a vintner’s license—which allows a restaurant to sell food and alcoholic beverages while also producing their own product—Bigsby’s has the flexibility of selling their own wines while also showcasing varietals from around the world. With 12 taps dedicated to wine, BF can deliver selections by the glass or by the growler. Guests can also opt for specialty tasting flights, including a Rosé Flight, or taste the entire lineup with The Folly Five. If you somehow find yourself at the winery and you don’t enjoy wine, never fear; the bar houses four taps for craft beer on top of a quaint offering of cocktails.

For a true lover of wine, Bigsy’s offers a special Winemaker for a Day. Learn a bit of history behind the varietal, while you craft, taste, and blend your own red wine creation. Guests can take home a bottle the same day and can even create their own label.

What to eat

bigsby's folly

Braised Short Rib French Dip with melted Swiss on a potato roll, au jus, and horseradish cream dipping sauce; served with a side of kettle chips

For food, the couple tapped Rebecca Austin, who previously owned Vinue Food and Wine Bar in Cherry Creek. Austin has introduced classic wine pairing fare, including a Charcuterie Board—featuring Spanish chorizo and Italian salami—with other snackable options, including Sea Salted Kettle Chips dressed with bleu cheese Mornay and a balsamic reduction. For heavier appetites, guests can nosh on a menu of flatbreads, salads, and meatier fare including Braised Short Rib French Dip.

bigsby's folly

Giving Back

Before Marla jumped on board with the winery, she had one condition—that the concept tie in her love of animals. Thus, Bigsby’s Folly not only honors the Yetkas’ late golden retriever—by naming the winery after him and incorporating his likeness into the BF branding—but Bigsby’s also gives back to the local community—animals and humans alike. Each quarter, the winery sponsors a partner, including local artists and animal welfare organizations, giving a portion of sales to charity. The winery also hopes to host community giving days, where all proceeds will benefit their pairing partners. Guests can also buy Bigsby’s Biscuits, of which 100-percent of the proceeds will benefit Morris Animal Foundation.

Bigsby’s Folly is open Monday through Thursday 4-10 pm; Friday 2-11 pm; Saturday noon to 11 pm; and Sunday noon-8 pm. 

Morgan Carter, Editor