How did your business start?
Cottonwood Cellars began operation in 1994 when Keith decided he wanted a retirement project. The first grape vines were planted in 1995 starting with 5 acres and has grown to 22.5 acres. A new building was added in 1998 for barrel aging and case good storage and then the on-site tasting room. The winery has two labels, Cottonwood Cellars and Olathe Winery. Keith has designed 18 different wines with three of those winning a gold and two bronze awards in the 2012 San Francisco International Competition. The winery produces 3,700-4,000 cases of wine from seven viniferous variates that are grown on their vineyard: merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, lemberger and Gewurztraminer.
What do you sell?
Five-flight tasting (choose five wines to taste) by the glass, bottle or case, accessories from wine barrels, and Cottonwood Cellars souvenir glasses, T-shirts, sweatshirts and picnic bags. We can accommodate private events at the tasting room or at off-site locations.
What positive lessons did you learn during the recession?
People still want to go do things that are affordable. We wanted to offer them a place to come and enjoy one of Colorado’s finest wineries at a reasonable cost in the basement ambiance of the 100-year-old Citizen’s Bank Building.
What strategy do you use to hire good people?
People that walk into a business want to be acknowledged by a friendly face that wants them there. A person who works for a small business should understand that this is priceless.
What is your strategy for growth in the next year?
We are putting some wine clubs together; also to let everyone to know that we have a place where couples can start their date night, for friends to have a place to meet or to have their own monthly wine club meetings; and to add more inventory to compliment the wine tasting room.
What is the best thing about running a business here?:
Meeting people. Local people and people who are traveling into Glenwood Springs wander down the basement stairs to see what is down here. They all enjoy the history of our “fun” town and are looking for things that they can share with others.