Blanchard Family Wines is docking its new tasting room in Fort Collins.
The winery is preparing to open its second Colorado tasting room in a 350-square-foot shipping container at 234 N. College Ave. within Fort Collins’ The Exchange, an outdoor plaza in Old Town that repurposes shipping containers to house small food vendors and bars.
“While we continue to shop for a larger facility … the idea of a smaller footprint and turnkey operation was really appealing to us,” co-owner James Blanchard said. “It reduces the risks coming out of COVID. I mean, we have no idea what can happen in the next five years. So, diversifying in suburban areas outside of Denver seemed like the right move.”
Blanchard Family Wines, which Blanchard founded with his brother Mark in 2008 in Sonoma, California, opened its first local tasting room in Denver’s Dairy Block in 2018. He said the company’s California and Colorado operations are two separate entities.
Blanchard, 45, attended the Air Force Academy from 1994 to 1998, which is how he fell in love with Colorado and why he decided to open their first tasting room outside of California in Denver. He lived in Fort Collins for seven years when he was stationed in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and now lives in Parker.
“Fort Collins over the last 10 years plus has really developed into more than just a college town,” Blanchard said. “It’s a great family and business location, and the demographics have changed over the last 10 to 20 years to become a more food and beverage scene, and the businesses are just running to catch up.”
Blanchard leased the new tasting room space for three years and plans to open it in August. The interior will seat around 25 people, and the outdoor patio can seat up to 60.
The Fort Collins tasting room will serve both the brand’s Colorado and California wines by the glass, bottle and in tasting flights. There will also be charcuterie boards and desserts for sale. The tasting room will host small events, wine tasting, classes and pairings.
Blanchard Family Wines sources its Colorado wines from producers throughout the Western Slope and its California wines from family-run vineyards around that state.
“We want to spread Blanchard Family Wines up and down the Front Range, not just in central Denver,” Blanchard said. “Denver has some great wineries already, but places like Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Palisade are thirsting more for that wine experience.”