Ashlee and James Brejcha have been crafting wine and beer in their Parker home for six years. What started as a hobby transformed into a full-time business.
On Jan. 24, the couple opened Purgatory Cellars at 30 Springer Drive in Highlands Ranch. Once part of a pizza joint, the 1,300-square-foot space is now a quaint indoor winery.
“We thought Highlands Ranch was a great place because there wasn't really anything like this,” said Ashlee Brejcha, 33.
One wall is unrefined, exposed brick. A cluster of hand-carved, wooden high tables sits in the middle of the room, next to a cozy corner with leather couches and a flat screen TV. Four giant wine barrels —some holding one-of-a-kind reds and whites — are stacked against the back wall. The bar itself is made of aged wine barrels.
Ashlee Brejcha says of business: so far, so good.
The statement is a reflection of Colorado's booming wine industry. According to 5280 magazine's Guide to Colorado Wine, the state's 150-plus wineries rake in $300 million annually.
Purgatory Cellars Winery is one of three in Douglas County — the other two are in Parker and Castle Rock — and the first winery of its kind in Highlands Ranch. The community has other options for wine-lovers, such as Indulge Bistro and Wine Bar, 1601 Mayberry Drive.
The Brejchas frequented the original Parker location as customers for years before they started helping out around the facility. They'd assist founder Marko Copic — who, with his wife, moved to Parker from Croatia in 2013 — with bottling wine and moving stock to the tasting room.
In 2017, the Brejchas began looking for a space to rent. The Highlands Ranch option was reasonably priced and in a location with good foot traffic, Ashlee said. Nearby businesses include Urban Egg and Main Event Entertainment.
Amanda Sakach, owner of Purity Skin Studios, Purgatory Cellars' neighbor, said the two businesses go hand-in-hand.
“We are thinking that the women who come to get facials with us also love wine,” Sakach said. “So it's a match mate in heaven.”
Purgatory Cellars plans to partner with small businesses in the community — like a boutique Pilates studio — for fun pairings and special events. Think, for example, of a workout followed by a discounted glass of wine, or ladies night on Mondays for ABC's "The Bachelor."
The owners also plan on making regular donations to Team Rubicon, a service organization that reintegrates veterans into civilian life by assisting with emergency response teams. It's near and dear to James Brejcha, an Army veteran.
“I've always been an advocate for veterans after serving in Afghanistan.” James said. “When I returned home, I knew I wanted to educate people about the power of a veteran. Veterans have skills in management, computers, mechanics — you name it.”
For now, the young couple is embracing their new surroundings.
“Everyone has been really welcoming,” Ashlee said. “It makes us feel good — like we made the right decision on where we should be.”
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