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Meet Marla Yetka of Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery & Restaurant

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marla Yetka.

OUR VISION: To do for the wine industry what craft breweries did for beer by creating and building an unparalleled, scalable winery brand that brings education, adventure, and high-quality wines to people in urban neighborhoods across the country.

MISSION STATEMENT: We exist to empower wine drinkers by making the highest quality wines approachable in a place where our guests can witness and interact with the winemaking process. We strive to deliver happiness and inspiration with every glass, bottle, case or barrel.

OUR CRAFT WINERY: Artisanal meets accessible at our full-production urban winery where we pair the tradition, authenticity, and sophistication of California, Washington and Oregon’s most prestigious vineyards with the approachability of our tasting room, located in the heart of Denver’s River North Art District.

It’s a friendly, neighborhood establishment meant to bring you closer to the art and science of winemaking in a comfortable setting. We’re lucky enough to have award-winning winemaker Brian Graham on our team. Brian learned the art of Old World winemaking while working at several small chateaus in Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Currently based in the heart of Napa Valley, Brian has over 20 years of experience and ensures Bigsby’s is able to source only the highest quality grapes for our wines and keeps us current with the latest trends from one of the most respected wine regions in the world.

OUR PHILOSOPHY:
-We believe that wine doesn’t need to be intimidating or pretentious to be extraordinary.
-We believe that wineries can be casual and comfortable without losing their prestige.
-We believe the more you know about the wine you drink and the people who make it, the more you’ll enjoy it.
-We believe there’s something to be said for the way wine used to be made— in small batches, with care, authenticity, and craft.
-We believe that it’s healthy to put down your phone and take a break from technology and pick up a glass of wine and enjoy it with friends.

That it’s possible to enjoy the best wines in the world in an urban setting.

CORE VALUES:

People – We’re friendly, welcoming and patient, starting with the basics when necessary, so our patrons feel free of judgment. Yet, we’re knowledgeable enough to expand on the wisdom of more sophisticated wine drinkers.

Product, Service & Experience – We consider quality the highest form of value. Our pledge to deliver quality will be apparent in every glass of wine and experience we offer.

This is inclusive, but not limited to: Our Bigsby’s Folly Wine Selections, our Wine Tasting Experiences, our Custom Blending Sessions, our Learning Events, and our Private Label and Wholesale Keg Programs.

Learn about different varietals, regions, aromas, and flavors. Understand how to taste wine and stretch your knowledge of how it’s made. Experience mixing, bottling and labeling your own blends.

Most importantly, know our cellar door is open and that the only thing we delight in more than crafting our own small-batch wines is sharing them with our neighbors.

Place – Great wine begins with great grapes. Not having a winery tethered to just one remote vineyard allows us to source the best fruit possible. By bringing the vineyard to the customer, an unsurpassed wine experience will be accessible to all – wine enthusiasts and novice drinkers alike. We will maintain an unpretentious and welcoming environment that supports relaxation and encourages learning and creativity for those looking for something more.

Community – We are passionate about supporting local causes that are important to our team members, our customers, and our neighbors. Animals provide us with unconditional love, companionship, and in our case, INSPIRATION. Bigsby’s is committed to returning the favor through various initiatives that reinforce our commitment to the well-being of animals.

OUR NAMESAKE:
Anyone living in the great city of Chicago during the 1990s couldn’t help but be immersed in the Bulls total domination of the NBA. Michael Jordan was the king and everything he touched (or endorsed) turned to gold, including the iconic men’s clothing store Bigsby & Kruthers.

So, when it came time to name our golden retriever puppy, the tie to the Bulls was a given. There were already lots of “Jordan’s” and “Rodman’s” running around the dog parks, but “Bigsby” was a little less obvious and had a nice ring to it. Little did we know, back in 1997, that Bigsby would come to be the inspiration behind a long time dream of owning our own winery.

We chose his name for our winery endeavor because we wanted it to be meaningful while also capturing the spirit of an era in American history when life was joyful but simple — the Roaring 20’s, also known as the “Années Folles” or “Crazy Years” when wine production was forced underground and made in small batches for private consumption or at speakeasies.

It was enjoyed with a little extra appreciation. We think our name embodies the personality of our brand. Approachable, Friendly, Loving and accepting of anyone who appreciates the good life and the things that make it so —- like dogs, and wine.

SEEK ADVENTURE! — Chad & Marla Yetka

Like many “second career” vintners, Chad came from many professional successes prior to the creation of Bigsby’s WineWorks and Cellar Door. First as an Aerospace Engineer (a rocket scientist), next as a senior business consultant, and most recently in the homebuilding and oil & gas industries. While his background is diverse, the one constant is Chad’s relentless determination and desire to make a difference. For over 30 years, work was just a job.

Chad and Marla always dreamed of retiring in Napa Valley where they would own and operate a winery. Chad would become a vintner because he loves to be hands-on, creating. Marla would run the tasting room and cellar door because her passion was people. But as everyone has heard the saying “If you want to make a million dollars in the wine business, start with ten million,” it remained just a dream, that is until the concept of the URBAN WINERY came to be.

And, during the boom of 2015, there was no better city to open in than Denver, Colorado. Finally, the dream turned into reality. Chad could pursue his passion AND create an authentic and quality winery experience accessible to everyone, not just those fortunate enough to travel to Napa, Bordeaux or other well-known wine regions. It was a simple matter of transport. Instead of people traveling to the grapes, Chad was going to bring the grapes to the people.

Bigsby’s was born of the love for good wine, and the realization that unlike craft beer and spirits, the wine industry is too often segregated from the wine drinker. So we’re bringing expertly crafted, high-quality wines to you, from the best-known wine regions in the world, without the attitude. We call them BIGSBY’S FOLLY because while we are committed to the highest standards in artisan winemaking, this is a passion project for us — because life’s too short to always play it safe.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Nothing worthwhile is easy. We gave up so much to pursue this passion. It took us almost a year to find our beautiful building. We struggled with city permits, contractors, liquor licensing, the health department, etc. to get our doors open.

We sold our dream home, we pulled our son out of private school and enrolled him into public school, we work 100 hours a week, but we love every minute of it. Our guests come to us to escape, to enjoy time with friends, colleagues, and family.

They choose to make us part of all of their special celebrations including birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baby showers, holidays, first dates, yappy hour, and just girls night out.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery & Restaurant – what should we know?
We are a full-production craft winery, restaurant and events venue.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Our friends and family all thought we were crazy to risk everything but supported us every step of the way. Bob and Stacey Bressler, of Bressler Vineyards in Napa, were great role models and mentors.

Our head winemaker, Brian Graham, our executive chef, Sarah Machado and our director of events, Cassie Moskowitz. We wouldn’t be here today without them.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Teri Fotheringham

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