Beaver Liquors boasts stellar wine selection in cellar
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: Scotch, whiskey and tequila are displayed to their best advantage; coolers line the entire eastern side of the store. But walk down the stairs to the wine cellar and all thoughts of “typical” will be erased from your mind.
Yes, there’s a wine cellar at Beaver Liquors, 14 feet underground so it stays naturally cool — a fact that surprises even some long-time locals. With wines from almost every corner of the world, wandering through the racks is both an adventure and an education — and the lessons are exceptional.
Owner David Courtney became interested in wine while working in the restaurant industry in Chicago. After he and his wife moved to Vail, he continued working in restaurants and learning from sommeliers. While working 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.”
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 says.
“I tell people, nobody’s going to recognize it (the label), but when you drink it you’re going to be like, ‘Holy crap,’” he said.
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 2016 wines from the Côtes du Rhône that he’s especially excited about. It’s a vintage that he says was almost impossible not to make good wine.
“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 that’s what Courtney wants — to make his guests happy. Whether you’re trying to impress the boss with a carefully selected bottle for the holidays or picking up pizza (Chianti pairs well with a pie), Courtney and the staff at Beaver Liquor are going to do their best to find you the right bottle, at the right price.
They Come To You This holds true for multi-course meals and special occasions, too. Though there are plenty of amazing restaurants in the Vail Valley, there are times when you just want to have an exceptional meal at home — without doing it yourself. It might be enjoying dinner with your 20-person family or just enjoying a gourmet meal in cozy pants in front of your own fireplace. When this urge strikes, it’s time to call in the professionals.
Private Chef Allana Smith of FOODsmith focuses on creating memorable experiences and sharing her love of ingredients, allowing guests to enjoy quality time with family while they execute creative handcrafted meals (foodsmithvail.com 970.688.1925). At TASTE 5 catering, award-winning chef Richard A. Bailey brings personality, passion and an attention to detail to of his culinary endeavors in the Vail Valley, including his personal chef dinners (taste5catering.com 970.376.1084). Both of these companies offer in-home, culinary experiences that will please even the pickiest of palates and Beaver Liquors can help gild the lily. Call up the store, share your menu and the sommeliers at Beaver Liquors will pick the perfect pairings for your meal, within your budget, and deliver it to your home, hotel or condo.
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.
And who’s to argue with an expert?