Ever heard the term “industry cluster?” What about “urban agglomeration?” The economic theory goes back to the 1890s… wait! Don’t go! This actually really relevant, really cool, and means a conglomeration of local booze options!

Boulder has made innovative use of clusters — Boulder Chamber of Commerce has gone so far as to create a “Blueprint 3.0” initiative, having launched its “Team Boulder” website to infuse a sense of intention in the city’s start-up prowess. Becoming the “Silicon Valley of the Rockies” was no accident; quite a bit of economic planning went into branding Boulder as the new place to be for tech startups, and quite a bit of planning continues in order to maintain that status going into the future.

The thinking is pretty simple, really. Geographic proximity creates instant community, and that interconnection creates a sense of convenience and leverage for businesses in the same or similar industries to help each other. A rising tide lifts all boats, and all that jazz.

It’s a thinking that resonates with John Garlich, co-founder of Bookcliff Vineyards. So when Michael Hasler moved in next door to open What We Love, The Winery, John saw opportunity instead of competition.

“He really helped me get started with my operations,” Michael said.

Enthusiasts line up for a tasting at What We Love, The Winery’s grand opening party.

Shortly after What We Love hosted its grand opening party in mid-May, Settembre Cellars moved into the Lee Hill Drive neighborhood, too. It renovated a neighboring space, complete with tasting room. Where there was one, now there are three. And inspiration hit: why not combine powers to harness all their strengths? Anyone who enjoys visiting one winery will certainly enjoy visiting THREE, right? Absolutely.

Thus, a micro-cluster is born. Boulder has a new attraction for both tourists and locals: Boulder Wine Studios. Each winery — Bookcliff Vineyards, What We Love, and Settembre Cellars — has a distinct wine-making style and price points, so there is a little something for everyone’s palette. And for the member of your party who simply isn’t into wine? Not to worry — that person can venture over to Upslope Brewing Company for a pint, also conveniently at 1501 Lee Hill Drive.

“All three wineries make the wine from grape to bottle, right here in our wineries,” Michael said. “Boulder Wine Studios was an evolution of friendship and sharing between the wineries. It became obvious that a partnership needed to happen.”

Boulder Wine Studios will host their own grand opening party June 28, from 12 – 6 p.m. There will be at least one food truck on site and, of course, plenty of wine to go around. Boulder may soon be known for its wineries as well as startups.

That’s the beauty of clusters: reputations can be made with them. Boulder Wine Studios has the resources of three separate wineries, and is thus able to create an experience unlike what any one of them could do separately. It will undoubtedly become a destination for tourists and locals alike. All because three wineries were able to see friendship and mutual support instead of competition.

It’s brilliant. The business- and marketing-minded part of me admires the use of the “power of three.” The consumer-minded part of me that thinks wine is its own food group is just down-right excited. Either way, here’s to Boulder‘s new micro-cluster! May it be the beginning of a new business trend.


If You Go, What You Need to Know:

What: Boulder Wine Studios Grand Opening

When: June 28, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Where: 1501 Lee Hill Dr., #14, #16, & #17

Cost: $10