Ordinary Fellow brings new winery to Palisade

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Ben Parsons, owner and winemaker at the Ordinary Fellow, leads a tour through his new operation inside an historic building in Palisade that once housed a peach packing facility. A grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 13. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Ben Parsons named his latest winery after a pub in his native England. The Ordinary Fellow doesn’t seem to apply to Parsons or his extraordinary efforts that have changed the Colorado wine industry.

After kickstarting both a fast-growing urban winery and the equally fast-growing trend of canned wines, Parsons has returned to Palisade to open an operation in an historic building that once served as a peach packing facility. A grand opening for the Ordinary Fellow is set for 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 13 at 202 Peach Ave.

After stepping down as winemaker at the Infinite Monkey Theorem, the winery he launched in Denver, Parsons could have moved anywhere in the world. He says he chose to stay in Colorado and what he considers a magical place. Moreover, he has high hopes for his latest endeavor in a location that’s attracting more people and businesses. “I feel like Palisade is on the verge of something.”

Parsons found a home for the Ordinary Fellow in a building that once housed the United Fruit Growers Co-op and a peach packing facility. During the early 20th century, local farmers loaded peaches onto trains headed for Denver.

Parsons renovated the building to accommodate winery equipment as well as an adjacent tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating areas. The tasting room is open daily for tasting flights and sells wines by the glass and bottle.

Four wines are bottled with the Ordinary Fellow label using grapes grown on Parson’s Box Bar Vineyard near Cortez as well as vineyards in Washington. Those wines include a riesling from Colorado as well as an albarino, rosé and red blend from Washington.

In addition to the tasting room, those wines are available in liquor stores and restaurants and soon will be available to purchase online.

Parsons says he strives to “let the vineyards do the talking” in making wines, stepping in only to strike a balance among the various attributes.

Parsons says he expects to bottle additional wines, including cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir and rosé from Colorado and a sparkling rosé from Washington.

Parsons brings to his latest venture more than 20 years of experience in the wine industry.

He started out selling wine in London, but soon realized he’d rather make wine. He worked a harvest in New Zealand, then moved to Australia, where he earned a graduate degree in enology from the University of Adelaide.

After graduation, he came to Palisade to take a job as a winemaker at Canyon Wind Cellars. He also started a wine consulting business and later moved to Southern Colorado to help turn Sutcliffe Vineyards from a hobby winery into a commercial operation.

In 2008, Parsons launched the Infinite Monkey Theorem in Denver. The operation soon expanded with additional tasting rooms in Denver and Fort Collins as well as a winery in Texas. 

Parsons also launched a program in packaging wine in kegs and in 2011, launched a canned wine.

Parsons stepped down as winemaker of the Infinite Monkey Theorem in 2019 and moved with his family back to the Grand Valley to focus on winemaking and the Ordinary Fellow.

He expects the operation to fit well with what’s become something of an entertainment district in Palisade as well as efforts to bring more visitors to the area on a year-around basis.

He plans to offer food service at the Ordinary Fellow starting in the spring.

And with ample space in the back of the building, he says there’s room for other complementary businesses — a coffee roaster or flour mill, for example.

At the same time, Parsons says he wants to offer a place in which people can relax, talk with friends and enjoy a glass of wine. 

Eschewing pretension, Parsons says there was a time when ordinary was considered a good thing. He says it’s up to customers to decide whether or not his efforts and his wines are extraordinary.

The Ordinary Fellow is located at 202 Peach Ave. in Palisade and open daily. For more information, call 464-2185, send an email to drink@theordinaryfellow.com or visit www.theordinaryfellow.com.