Historic peach packaging factory houses Palisade’s newest winery


The Ordinary Fellow winery opened in October 2021. Photo courtesy of Ordinary Fellow

Eat and drink

Ben Parsons, of the famous Infinite Monkey Theorem, launched Ordinary Fellow in downtown Palisade in October.

For decades, West Slope fruit growers brought their sweet, juicy peaches to a warehouse beside the railroad tracks in downtown Palisade, loaded their fruit onto trains, and shipped it to Denver to be tasted. across the Front Range. After sitting vacant for several years, the warehouse at 202 Peach Avenue is enjoying a second life, this time as a modern winery that showcases the wine prowess of the Centennial State.

Ben Parsons, the innovative Colorado winemaker behind the infinite monkey theorem, transformed the former Palisade peach packaging plant into a the ordinary fellow, a new water point offering high wines and a warm and welcoming place to relax.

When Parsons left Infinite Monkey Theorem in 2018 to start his new business, he knew almost immediately that the historic building, located on 2.5 acres of land next to Palisade Brewing Company and in front of Peach Street Distillers, would be the perfect place. After negotiating a lease, he set to work converting the 16,000 square foot facility (with a 4,000 square foot shaded patio) into a tasting room and production facility. According to Parsons, the facility was the long-standing home of the United Fruit Growers Association Co-op, which disbanded in 2002 when growers decided to sell at individual stores and stalls; it was then briefly occupied by a bread distribution company before being vacant for several years. “The building was empty and I was like, ‘This is a great place for a cellar,’” says Parsons.

After being vacant for several years, the warehouse at 202 Peach Avenue was turned into a cellar. Photo courtesy of the Ordinary Fellow

Parsons didn’t even know Colorado had a wine scene when he graduated from the Enology program at the University of Adelaide in Australia in 2001 and began looking for winemaking jobs. But an assignment to the now-closed Canyon Wind Cellars in Palisade caught his attention, so he applied, got the job, and moved across the world to be the winemaker for four years. Parsons, who also started a wine consulting business, then moved south for three years to work for Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez before moving to Denver to pitch the Infinite Monkey Theorem. “It’s good for me to come back to the Western Slope because that’s where I started my career in the Colorado wine industry,” he says. “It’s just nice to be in a place where you have more accessibility to the outdoors and more open space.”

The name of the new winery is a nod to the British upbringing of 45-year-old Parsons. After Parsons’ father died in 2007, the winemaker inherited his father’s collection of pub cards – small cards that came in cigarette packs in the 1960s and 1970s (similar to baseball cards) that featured a photo of the sign hanging outside of various English people. pubs. As he mulled over a name for his new business, which opened in October, Parson took a look at the cards, which he had framed in his father’s memory, and leaned over one in particular: the Ordinary Fellow. The humble pub in Parson’s home county of Kent brought back fond memories of his childhood and inspired the unpretentious vibe of the new winery. “It was a place that was just a very warm environment to hang out,” he says. “It just resonated. It ended up sticking. “

For now, the Ordinary Fellow offers four wines, which are available in the tasting room and at select Colorado restaurants and liquor stores (as well as in line): a Colorado Riesling, and an Albariño, a red blend, and a rosé all made with grapes grown in Washington State. Parsons also recently helped launch a brand of wine-based seltzer called Bridge (a collaboration with Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.), and he plans to put some of these products on tap in the cellar in the spring. Parsons also leases a 12.5-acre vineyard south of Cortez, where he grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir grapes. “I want to make the best Colorado wine possible using the fruits of our own vineyard and make it in Palisade, which is the heart of the wine country, and create an experience for people to come in and really relax and have fun. , ” he says.

By next spring, the regular fellow will also be offering small plates made with local ingredients and served from a shipping container-style ship on the patio. For the menu, Parsons is teaming up with Mike Winston (former chef at Denver’s Table 6 and current chef at Garbage can 707 at Grand Junction) and Megan Silvertooth (who opened Denver’s Bistro Barbès, red sauce and Tempered chocolates).

Parsons is thrilled to contribute to the growth of the Grand Valley as a year round destination for mountain biking and other outdoor pursuits, top notch restaurants, excellent wines, and fresh produce. high quality. “Palisade is a small town, but it’s growing – people move here who want great restaurants, great experiences, they want to be close to the outdoors,” he says. “Palisade is on the cusp of something really big. It is a true food and wine destination located in a magnificent river valley with world-class mountain biking and quality skiing. ”

202 Peach Avenue, Palisade


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