Cooper Wine & Spirits Curates Taste, Selection, Service, and Value at Their Downtown Glenwood Shop
If it’s Friday or Saturday evening between 5-7 p.m. in Glenwood Springs, one thing you can count on is that there’ll be a small crowd gathered at Cooper Wine & Spirits for their weekly tastings.
They’ve been offering the tastings since opening in November of 2013. “We applied for a tasting permit that allows 104 tastings per year, so we decided to keep it simple and do two each weekend,” says Kevin Brady, who owns the downtown store with his wife Sharon, who adds, “some people come in every single weekend.”
The tastings not only bring in customers, around 100 to 150 per weekend, but they also fulfill one of the business’s core objectives, which is to educate consumers about their products so they’ll make better buying decisions, and ultimately be more satisfied customers.
“We’re not in the wine and spirits business as much as we are in the people business,” says Kevin, who conducts most of the tastings himself, and loves engaging with the participants.
“At first we would offer several red or white wines at a tasting, and people would try to pick their favorite,” says Kevin, “so now we focus on a variety of price points, countries, styles, and taste profiles that don’t compete with each other, to broaden people’s experience.”
Cooper Wine & Spirits’ clientele is a mixture of locals and visitors with the majority of their regular customers being area residents, who have honored the store with a Locals’ Choice Award every year since 2014, their first full year in business.
“We pride ourselves on our selection,” says store manager Joe Sinopoli. Given the limited square footage of the historic downtown building at the corner of 8th and Cooper, “we are very selective about what we offer,” he says.
Kevin adds, “we have about 3,000 different items on our shelves, and we’re always adding new selections. We work with 18 wholesalers on a weekly basis, and focus on family-owned breweries and estate-owned wineries. We like to know where our products come from and what’s in them, so we can pass that knowledge on to customers. We try to offer things that people can’t find anywhere else.”
The store avoids posting scores from the commonly used 100-point scale for wines, in favor of a more personal, interactive approach with customers. “The first thing I ask people is what they’re serving for dinner, then I suggest a wine that will pair well with the dominant flavor on their menu,” says Kevin.
They feature a wide range of products along the entire price spectrum. “Some of our prices beat Costco, which might surprise people,” Kevin says. “We’ve curated a selection of products that taste above their price point,” he continues, “but the most important thing is whether you like the wine, regardless of price—if you like it, then it’s a good wine.”
Recent changes to liquor laws have made it possible to sell merchandise other than alcohol, “as long as it doesn’t exceed 25 percent of sales,” says Sharon, “so we’ve added an array of cured meats and cheese—things that go well with wine and beer—along with some original art and handmade jewelry.”
When asked about current trends in the libation industry, the conversation really lights up. According to Sinopoli, pink drinks are trending. “Rosé is huge right now, not just in wine but in beer and cider,” he says, going on to explain, “rosé is more about the color, not a particular taste profile.”
Craft lagers and pilsners are also hot, along with hazy IPAs, which Sinopoli describes as being “hazy in appearance with a soft, pillowy mouthfeel, low bitterness, and highly aromatic.”
Hard seltzers are gaining popularity too. “Millennials especially are gravitating toward beverages that are light, crisp, and flavorful, without high alcohol or calorie content,” says Sinopoli. “They want something refreshing that won’t slow them down.”
Kevin says that unoaked, organic, biodynamic, all-natural, and chilled red wines are growing categories, along with small-batch craft liquors, “like gin for instance, which is now being made with a wider range of botanicals beyond the traditional juniper berries.”
Sharon adds, “we’re also seeing more women buying whiskey, which has been seen as more of a manly drink, but that perception is changing.”
Cooper Wine & Spirits has their collective finger on the pulse of industry trends, and they’re passionate about sharing these insights with their clientele. Sinopoli says, “it’s great knowing so many of our customers by name, and learning what they like.”
“People told us we’d never make it in this downtown location because of the limited parking,” says Kevin, “but folks will take a few extra steps for a unique experience,” pausing to add with visible emotion, “we’re so thankful that people have embraced us.”
October Tasting Lineup
Each weekend tasting features multiple brands selected for specific themes. Planning to become a regular? Pick up one of the shop’s $4 branded reusable tasting glasses to help reduce plastic cup waste.
- 4 & 5: Whiskey!
- 11 & 12: Wines from Around the World
- 18 & 19: Beautiful Wines for Fall
- 25 & 26: Unique Wine Finds