Beaver Liquors and its wine cellar hopes to make guests happy with the best wines |

Beaver Liquors and its wine cellar hopes to make guests happy with the best wines

By Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily

For more than 40 years, Beaver Liquors in Avon has been selling spirits, wine and beer to the imbibers in the valley. Upon first glance, it may seem like a fairly typical liquor store. But walk down the stairs to the wine cellar — yes, there’s a wine cellar at Beaver Liquors, a fact that surprises even some long-time locals — and browse wines from almost every corner of the world.

Owner David Courtney became interested in wine while working in the restaurant industry in Chicago. After he and his wife moved to Vail, he worked for a small wine distributor, he started delivering to Beaver Liquors. He was creating momentum for his product, generating impressive sales, when then-owner Rick Cuny made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: A partnership with eventual buyout. That was in 1999; Courtney took over the business in 2006.

“And that’s how I got into wine,” he says. “Kind of crazy.”

Beaver Liquors’ wine cellar sits 14 feet underground and stays at 53-58 degrees Fahrenheit.
Charles Townsend Bessent

It’s clear that wine is Courtney’s passion: He’s always looking out for new trends, new options to share with his guests, like grower’s Champagne. In the past few years, Courtney says the growers who, for the past 50 years or more, have supplied grapes to popular Champagne makers like Moet & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot, are now bottling their own Champagnes, using those same grapes. These bottles are less expensive than their brand-name counterparts, but they’re just as good, if not better, Courtney said.

“I tell people, nobody’s going to recognize it, but when you drink it you’re going to be like, ‘Holy crap,’” he said.

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Courtney’s love of wine is infectious. He’ll lead you around the cellar from New Zealand to Italy to the West Coast, discussing everything from up-and-coming Portuguese wines to the 2018 wines from the Côtes du Rhône that he’s especially excited about. It’s a vintage that he says was very, very good, but the yields were down about 50%, so it’s in short supply.

“When people come down, I’m like, ‘Right, we have Côtes du Rhône that are $30 and you have some that are $12,’” Courtney says. “Any one of these that you pick in your price range, you’re going to leave happy.”

And while Courtney is all about the wine, many of his staff members are all about the beer, expanding and cultivating an outstanding selection of craft beer from Colorado and beyond. Whether you’re looking for a 100+ IBU IPA or a boozy Belgian Trippel, you’ll find some super suds on the shelves.

Perhaps that’s what makes Beaver Liquors such a popular destination in the valley. The selection is extensive, but easy to navigate; if you have questions, the staff is eager to help and share their own favorite finds.

“I think there’s always a time and a place for wine, all the time,” Courtney said.

This story previously appeared in EAT magazine.

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