Colorado Winery Spotlight: Bonacquisti Wine Company
Open a decade in the small Denver neighborhood of Sunnyside, Bonacquisti Wine Company have cemented themselves as a great part of the Colorado wine scene. Paul Bonacquisti, founder and winemaker, comes from a long-line of winemakers. “I grew up making wine as a family hobby. So I learned from my dad, who passed it on from my grandfather, who came from Italy,” he says. He had a job in radio, but when they switched formats and no longer needed him, he got his Certified Sommelier certification and went back to his winemaking roots.
The idea to open an urban winery was a bit of a no brainer. He lived in the area and didn’t want to move, farming isn’t his thing, and “this is where the people are.” The process of winemaking is a pretty straightforward one. They source grapes on the open market, but he likes to support the Colorado market and buy Colorado grapes as much as he can. Though they also source grapes from California, Washington, and even New Mexico. They crush the grapes, which come in during harvest season, and ferment them in house and eventually bottle when it comes time to it.
The juice starts in stainless steel and then “go into barrels at various stages. Some are only in stainless steel, it just depends on the wine.” The wine then goes back into the stainless steel once it’s done in the barrel for bottling and kegging. As for the wines that stay in the stainless steel, it’s all whites. “All my whites are only stainless, I don’t do any barrel aging on whites,” says Paul. Some of his reds to have shorter barrel times than others, but all of them are in the barrel at some point. Paul says it’s merely a style preference to not barrel his whites. In general, fermentation is about a two-week process, and then it’s a matter of aging and maturing which can take three months to nine, depending on the wine. When you go in for a tasting, you’ll notice that the wine is coming out of a tap. When they get ready to bottle the wine, they’ll put it in bottles as well as a keg. Paul says doing this makes things more economical as well environmentally friendly, and doesn’t change any of the process.
As for how the wine scene has changed since he’s been open, Paul says it’s grown a lot. “I think I was number 63 or 64 winery when I opened, and now there are over 130 wineries in the state.” He also attributes the state’s amount of sunshine as setting Colorado apart from the other wine-heavy states. The reds have more fruit forward characteristics and that helps the wine stand out.
One thing that sets Bonacquisti apart is they sell refillable growlers. You can get whichever wine you’d like, and when you’ve emptied your growler, you can just take it back for more. They also make in-house sangria (which is a blend of red and white with a peach wine base), which you can put in your growler. All you have to do is pour over ice, add an orange, and you have a great, easy sangria. They also have wines named after their Children – the Vinny No Neck, an Italian style red, and the Bella Risa, a pinot grigio. It adds to their philosophy of making wine accessible and welcoming.