Ben Parsons, the winemaker who helped spark the urban winery trend when he founded The Infinite Monkey Theorem (TIMT) in the heart of downtown Denver, has resigned from the company. He remains a shareholder.
Parsons told Wine Spectator that he has stepped down as TIMT's winemaker to get back to doing what he loves most: working in the vineyards. "Infinite Monkey has been my passion and has been super exciting, so I want to find something that has the same bang," said Parsons, "but with more of a focus on out-and-out winemaking and getting back into the vineyard again."
Parsons started his career selling wine in London, before working a harvest in New Zealand and, following graduation from the University of Adelaide with a degree in enology, landing his first winemaking position at Canyon Wine Cellars in Palisade, Colo. He established Infinite Monkey Theorem in Denver's River North Art District in 2008 with the goal of making visiting a winery more accessible to the masses.
Before sales of canned wine took off, Parsons introduced TIMT's version in 2011. Canned wine sales are booming, with sales jumping 69 percent in 2018 to more than $69 million in retail outlets tracked by Nielsen, up from just $2 million in sales in 2012.
Under Parsons' tutelage, TIMT quickly expanded, adding additional tasting rooms in Denver and Fort Collins, Colo., and opening a Texas winery in Austin in 2016. This April, the Texas winery relocated to a larger, nearly 12,000-square-foot location in East Austin, a major thoroughfare of the annual South by Southwest festival. The new facility will also allow the company to expand its Texas wine production. "We're really excited about how that will progress as Austin grows in that direction," said Parsons.
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Still an Infinite Monkey shareholder, Parsons said he's exploring different opportunities in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres and even back in the U.K. "I was born in Kent, [England,] and the sparkling wine world is blowing up there," he said. "There are a lot of cool projects, and there are some that are not entirely connected to wine that I have been approached about."
Parsons remains TIMT's consulting winemaker for now, and cellar master Tim Carron is still onboard. TIMT is also getting ready to launch a new canned wine spritzer later this month. Moving forward, the winery is reevaluating its canned line and will cut some from the TIMT collection, including its cider and Sauvignon Blanc.
"It doesn't make sense for the wine world for where we are," said Nicki McTague, the company's vice president, "but we definitely want to go forward with the canning lines." The winery would also like to open a new location in Dallas and possibly another in Houston, according to McTague.
As for Parsons, who is now a father of two young children, he's looking for the next big thing. "I'm able to travel anywhere in the world and really pursue my passion, which has always been winemaking," said Parsons. "That's really what I want to get back to. I'm feeling kind of giddy, to be honest."