One of the most interesting city-level views in the Denver metro area belongs to the Cellar Wine Bar, located in LoHi, the Lower Highlands, at 2556 15th Street, at the intersection of five streets: 15th Street, Boulder Street, West 29th Avenue, and Umatilla Street. Cellar Wine Bar is in a triangular building with plate-glass windows that overlook the busy intersection, offering a good view of people- and traffic-watching. Owner Brian Del Gado and sommelier Evan Williams describe it cheerfully as one of the best views in town.
Del Gado and his wife, Sandra Lopez, opened the Cellar Wine Bar as an extension of the family’s restaurant business. Del Gado and Williams describe their philosophy of wine as offering a balanced, global list that includes world-class wines alongside value wines and interesting wines that are not available elsewhere. They pour 40 wines by the glass and 10 by the bottle and strive to offer the best wine of its type for each varietal. For the wine-shy, mixologist Erik Catelle has created 15 wine and sake cocktails priced at $5.00 to $8.00/glass.
The Cellar Wine bar offers a dozen mixed red/white wine flights by geography. During Happy Hour, select wines are $5.00/glass, with half-off wines priced at $12.00 or more/glass. Accompaniments include meats, cheese, sides, and sweets. Seating options include 2-top tables that can be combined, a community table that seats eight, and bar stools.
Del Gado and Williams talk about wanting to make wine accessible to a broad range of people and work to ensure the Cellar Wine Bar is not a snooty, stuffy wine bar, but an authentic wine experience. They want to offer value to all patrons, as well as a cozy, personal neighborhood stop. Del Gado and Williams agree they have had fun learning to recognize regular patrons, about two-thirds of whom come from the Highlands area, within 15 blocks of the wine bar.
Williams said he and Del Gado offer wine education if people would like it. Williams said part of his job is to gauge the patrons, their individual level of knowledge, and how much information they want to know about wine, whether it’s a few facts conveyed in a two-minute conversation, or a distillation of an enormous set of knowledge. Williams said this is part of the work of a modern sommelier.
Del Gado and Evans pride themselves on their flexibility and ability to adapt quickly to meet their patrons’ needs. They can update the wine list the next day. They have fun offering personal attention, developing personal relationships with their regular patrons in particular. Sommelier Williams *is* the bartender, and he welcomes questions. Williams discussed how a good bartender can talk about a lot of topics, be approachable, and find something to talk about with other people. This translates to a deeper level of customer service.
Williams said wine is his life. He said he thinks about wine from the time he wakes up until the time he peruses wine journals before going to bed. His travel plans have been oriented to wine. He describes how he works at being well-informed about all things wine, so he can stay in the scene and be at ease with a full range of wine subjects. Williams describes wine as a “humbling profession,” with so much to know on a daily basis. He is certified as a sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers and is preparing to sit for an advanced sommelier exam.
The Cellar has become known as a great place to meet before and after going out elsewhere in the neighborhood. Del Gado and Williams hope it will become a destination where patrons spend the full evening. Birthdays are popular events at the Cellar Wine Bar, as are bachelorette parties. The Cellar Wine Bar staff prepares platters of meats and cheeses according to the number of guests expected at the party. Including a selection of tapas and a tailored wine list are popular options.
The Cellar Wine Bar has a monthly tasting program. On Wednesday, September 7, winemaker Ben Parsons will be on hand to guide patrons through a free tasting of Infinite Monkey Theorem wines. See you there.