Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Colorado Wine Company in Eagle Rock
As others have observed, it appears that many of Eagle Rock's newer residents moved to the neighborhood to nest and spawn. The schools are decent, there's a big park, you can push the stroller on a long walk up and down Colorado or Hill, etc.
For many of these newer residents, Eagle Rock is a place to deal with the long put-off business of growing up. We're still wearing our Converse and Pumas, and illegally downloading new indie bands, but we've now amortized a lot of debt, and are concerned about life insurance and property taxes. (Is this the wrong place to note that "amortize" and "mortgage" derive from the root "mort", meaning "death"?)
Colorado Wine Company is here to help with that growing-up process. CWC's owners know that an appreciation of wine, much like a non-feigned appreciation of classical music, is something many of Eagle Rock's yupsters aspire to, but have often not yet achieved. It is a marker of sophisticated, urbane adulthood. We want to be the people we imagine we should be by now. CWC is here to help. It functions as a type of hip and modish educational institution for the newer residents of Eagle Rock. As CWC says on its site, its owners "wanted to create an environment where anyone, no matter what level of wine knowledge they had, could enter the store, receive personal service and recommendations, try a sip or two of the daily selections at the bar, and leave feeling more comfortable and educated about wine (and hopefully more relaxed after a hard day at work)."
In short, CWC is here to help us with the business of growing up and learning to endure the drudgery of full-blown adulthood. To be fair, the people at CWC make every effort to reach out beyond their natural yupster audience, and emphasize wines under $25 (though you can, of course, find some more expensive wines here): Wine for the people! as improbable as that rallying cry may be.
CWC stays true to its promise. The owners and staff are unfailingly helpful, approachable, and non-judgmental. This is not a place where someone will snicker at your French pronunciation or mock you for not knowing if a pinot grigio is a white or a red. In fact, the staff here are so friendly, that I've often wanted to stop by for no real reason, just to say hi, and maybe have them tell me about some new kind of wine. I recognize that I am the target audience for CWC: I know basically nothing about wine, but am always interested in learning about it.
The store (up front) has a very basic and functional look. Bookshelves serving as wine display cases, with a long set of wines displayed along the hallway to the back lounge. The floor is a basic, heavy-duty black linoleum, evocative of the type of flooring you might have had in your eighth-grade science classroom. The website and the store interior feature cork. [Update 8/18/09: on closer inspection, it may be eco-friendly composite wood.] Cork, in my view, is the perfect decoration for yupster places like CWC. It projects humility and practicality, while also suggesting creativity, openness, etc -- cherished yupster qualities. See also Gingergrass. In any event, the purposefully downplayed and simple decor at CWC says to the visitor, "Don't worry! We're not going to judge you. This will be a fun educational experience. Like school!"
The back lounge is a little different, but similarly inviting and comfortable. It looks a bit like something off of a Morcheeba album cover, or maybe a bachelor pad in MAD MEN. It's a very tastefully appointed (retro-modern) small square room surrounded by curtains. There's a small bar, behind which stands a friendly and helpful staffer, who is happy to help teach you about the various wines the store is featuring that day and give you a few sample sips. There are a few raised tables, a couch, and some other chairs. It's the perfect place to have a glass of wine and meet some of your neighbors, perhaps talk about where you went to school, what you majored in, etc. CWC has tastings on weekends. There's an entire event calendar posting upcoming themed tastings. (Even CWC's events calendar feels faintly academic.)
The overall effect of the store, front and back, feels to me a bit like a training simulator for real-life adulthood in a Sophisticated Urban Environment. You bone up on some basics in front, pick up some materials, and then head back to the lounge area, to develop and try out your wine knowledge in a safe space where you're unlikely to be injured.
CWC has a fantastic sangria on Saturdays through the summer. It involves peach slices, cinnamon, mint, and champagne (I think) and some other stuff, I'm not sure what -- but the stuff is liquid crack.
The CWC usually has art available for purchase displayed around the store. In addition to their fine selection of domestic and imported wines, they have a nice selection of sake at the front, and a fridge full of interesting beers.
CWC is an Eagle Rock treasure. It may be the single most agreeable and attractive location in the neighborhood. In its gentle, non-patronizing way, CWC helps teach us striving yupsters, filled with dread and Weltschmerz as we age out of the edgy and coveted 18-34 demographic, that adulthood is not really so bad. And there's always VH1.