Winemaker, Mad Scientist, Founder/CEO The Infinite Monkey Theorem
Ben Parsons is a winemaker, brand builder, creative thinker and a market disrupter with 20 years experience in the wine industry. He is an expert in storytelling, product development and establishing a clear route to market. His passion is winemaking and making wine fun accessible and relevant to everyone all the time.
Originally hailing from Kent in Southern England, Ben Parsons’ first experience in the wine industry was as a young graduate salesman for Layton’s Wine Merchants in London, “Selling Bordeaux and Burgundy wines for silly prices to silly people.” From Layton’s, Ben moved to Fullers, a smaller wine merchant better known for their West London brewery and London Pride beer. His network of industry contacts were spurring him on to follow his passion and interest. Keen to learn more about the production side of the business, he headed to New Zealand to work a harvest at Nobilo Wines in Marlborough at their Drylands facility, under the tutelage of chief winemaker and viticulturist Darryl Wooley. It was during his time there that Ben had his lightning-bolt moment, realizing winemaking was all he wanted to do: “There I was, sitting on a tanker in Marlborough during the 2000 harvest watching the sunset and thinking it didn’t get much better.”
Whilst in New Zealand, Ben was desperately trying to get funding to move to Australia so he could study. He was fortunate enough to win a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship that would cover the tuition, competing against 500 other hopefuls in a public speaking debate. He moved to South Australia to complete a Graduate Diploma in Enology at the University of Adelaide. He finished top of his year, graduating in 2001.
Upon graduation Ben started applying for Northern Hemisphere harvest placements and stumbled on a position for a winemaker in Colorado. Surprised to hear that a wine industry even existed in Colorado, he applied and was immediately offered a winemaking position at Canyon Wind Cellars in Palisade, where he served as winemaker until 2005 under the tutelage of Bob Pepi Jr. During this time, Ben established a successful wine consulting business that helped many of Colorado’s wineries and growers. In 2005, Ben moved to Southern Colorado to take a job with Sutcliffe Vineyards a vineyard he had consulted for since 2003. He transformed the winery from a hobby to a successful 3000 case operation garnering national recognition along the way.
In 2007, Ben’s father passed away after a battle with colon cancer. To honor their shared dream of starting a winery, Ben wasted little time in putting together a business plan to start Colorado’s first urban winery. He spent the summer of 2008 driving almost 25,000 miles across the U.S. buying used wine equipment on a shoe-string budget which he housed in a rented Quonset hut in an alley of Denver’s Santa Fe Art District. Whilst setting up the winery, he made bi-weekly treks to the Western Slope to work with growers to fine tune vineyard operations. During the inaugural harvest of 2008 when the fruit was ready, he drove his truck to pick up the grapes in Palisade, returning to the hut in Denver for immediate processing.
With the founding of The Infinite Monkey Theorem, (TIMT) Ben set out to dispel elitism and mysticism in the world of winemaking and wine drinking while concurrently bringing a quality product to the masses. He also strived to raise the flag of the Colorado wine industry, using innovation and creativity along the way. In Ben’s mind, he is a mad scientist, toiling and tinkering away, concerned with nothing more than creating great wine.
Innovation and Growth
In 2009 Ben launched TIMT’s wine on tap program championing this environmentally sound packaging and starting a trend in restaurants and bars across Colorado and the nation to embrace kegged wine. In 2011, Ben successfully launched TIMT’s first-ever canned wine, Back alley Moscato, which made its World debut at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen at a fringe party, held inside the historical Smuggler Mine. The event was one of the most heralded at that year’s Food & Wine Classic, and helped propel the TIMT brand into the hands of his culinary and industry peers, who embraced its streetwise branding and environmentally friendly, portable packaging.
In order for the growing brand to double its size and production, the winery moved locations in June 2012 to a 15,000-square-foot space in Denver’s River North Arts District. Following that move, the largely volunteer team crushed 146 tons of grapes, producing 10,000 cases of wine. The new space enabled TIMT to continue its mission to make wine fun, accessible and relevant to everyone, all of the time. TIMT’s first Denver tap room opened in November of 2012 and quickly became a place in which to hang out and enjoy a few glasses of wine without being overly sold too. James Beard dinners, yoga and wine and the frose phenomenon quickly followed. In 2013, Ben commenced production of Colorado’s first ever Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wine from 100% Albarino grapes.
In January 2014, Ben pushed for changes in state laws for wine packaging by working with state lawmakers on legislation which would allow Colorado wineries to package bulk wines from out of state producers, essentially acting as Tax Paid Bottling Houses (previously forbidden in the state). Following this, Ben launched the Iron Monkey Kegging Company working with Microstar Keg Logistics to provide a dedicated fleet of wine kegs to target out of state distributors and winemakers seeking to enter the lucrative keg wine industry.
One of Ben’s most cherished wines – the 2010 100th Monkey blend of Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc – scored the highest accolade of any Colorado wine, receiving an 89-point rating by the industry bible, Wine Spectator. Since then TIMT’s wines have garnered multiple 90+ point scores across the wine media from The Wine Advocate to The Wine Enthusiast. Few winemakers are called on a regular basis to discuss industry trends, but Ben is one of them. James Molesworth, Ben O’Donnell and Ray Isle look to Ben to hear what’s new in the industry.
In 2015 Ben was selected as one of America’s Top Forty Under Forty Tastemakers for his work developing the eco conscious canned and kegged wine categories by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
In April 2018 Food & Wine Magazine named The Infinite Monkey Theorem’s canned Moscato as one of the forty wines that changed the way we drink alongside such industry icons as Robert Mondavi, Stags Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena.
In 2014 Ben was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow for his outstanding contribution to community over the years by the Rotary Foundation.
In 2014 Ben launched a dry hopped pear cider using pear juice from The Hood River and Citra hops from The Yakima that quickly found its way on to Frontier airlines and the shelves of Target.
In 2018 Ben Launched a dry hopped Sauvignon Blanc in a 250ml can to once again blur the lines between craft beer and craft wine by combining the best of both worlds to create an IPA style wine. The story was picked up in national media and the product was placed with the PA liquor control board.
In 2015 he started experimenting with wine cocktails and kegged a peach Bellini to trial in IMT’s taprooms. The product was finalized and launched in a can in the spring of 2019.
In 2014 Ben developed a relationship with Frontier airlines to carry TIMT’s red and white canned wines as their inflight wine choice. He also worked with Doug Bell and Devon Broglie (category managers at Whole Foods) to help propel canned wine into the main stream. Over the years Ben has guided TIMT wines to placements in Trader Joes, Target, Meijer, Whole Foods, Kroger. BevMo and HEB. He has developed a distributor network nationwide and successfully exported his first wines to the Chinese market in 2018. In 2018 Ben led TIMT to national sales of 100,000 cases across 3 product categories on a modest marketing budget.
Tap Room Expansion
In 2015 TIMT launched its second location in Austin TX and proceeded to pursue its growth in regional winemaking bringing its TX made wines to a loyal TX customer base. In 2017 TIMT launched its second Colorado taproom location at the Stanley Market Place in Aurora, and in March of 2019 opened its third taproom location in Fort Collins, CO.
When Not Crushing Grapes
Ben is married with a five-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son and lives in Denver with his two dogs. When not crushing grapes, he is an avid Manchester United fan, following his beloved team at Denver’s Three Lions pub. He also lives out the Colorado dream, spending any free-time hiking, biking and skiing, as well as indulging in dining and drinking.
Boards and Philanthropy
Over the years Ben has served on various boards and committees to promote Colorado Wine, serving on the marketing committee of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, and as a board member of the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE). Ben has worked with the University of Colorado Cancer Center on an ongoing basis to support the search for a cure.