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Aug 30, 2013 12:30 PM

Looking for wine shops with good prices-boulder

I just moved here from Los Angeles and got used to buying everyday wine at Trader Joes and Costco. I know what people say about TJ wines but for cheap wine you can't beat the prices. Now without these two shops I'm paying at least $3-5 more for the same wines. For instance, I just bought a Pine Ridge Viognier for $11 where I was buying the exact same wine for $7.99 at TJs. Or Alamos Malbec for $14 and was getting it for $8-9. Any leads?? Thanks!

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  1. Due to silly state regulations, the Costco in Arvada on Wadsworth is the only one with a wine shop. The Target in Glendale also has wine (under a pharmacy loophole). Trader Joes will be opening in Boulder and Denver by at least next year. If you want something other than plonk, the Boulder Wine Merchant is owned by a master sommelier and has some great selections. Superior Liquor off of Hwy 36 near Boulder has a nice selection, good sales, and a points club. Total Beverage in Westminster on Sheridan off of 36 has everyday quaff-able wines at good prices too.

    20 Replies
    1. re: rlm

      Actually, the Costco at 136th and I-25 has liquor. They are run by different companies, not Costco. Whole Foods in Boulder has some good options as does Hazel's.

      1. re: RobynS

        i like Hazels bc they have my favorite Chianti but now my favorite value wine Columbia Crest Cab that I used to get for $10 is now $15.99.

        I'll have to try the Costco in Arvada and Superior Liquors. I see I get a little coupon on the back of my KIng Soopers receipt too.

        I'm patiently waiting for the TJ's but the one in Denver will be the only one with the wine shop, not the one in Boulder. I have been to the WF wine shop and really like the merchants there. Quirky and nice people.

      2. re: rlm

        Liquor Mart in downtown Boulder is another decent option.

        But I have to disagree with the "silly state regulations", I for one am in favor of the laws as they exist, which forbids any entity from owning more than one liquor store. That law helps our amazing craft brewing industry, and while it admittedly might result in slightly higher prices, it also results in greater variety of selection. Without it, we'd mostly have to rely on the King Soopers (and similar) of the state, with a homogenous selection.

        1. re: LurkerDan

          I totally agree with LD here.

          Yes, massive chains have massive buying power to negotiate better pricing, but they also result in ultimately fewer choices.

          So to the OP: no, you probably won't find the pricing you had in Cali. Booze is a luxury, even cheap booze.

          1. re: LurkerDan

            while I like the intention of the law, if it were to change, I don't think the people of colorado would drive independent businesses into the ground. i lived in an area in LA where there was 2 BevMos, 2 Costcos, and about 10 TJ's in a 12 mile radius. not to mention all the big box grocery stores, the many independent wine shops have thriving businesses. i did buy more everyday wine at TJ's and Costco but for better quality wines I always went to the smaller shops for the personal and knowledgable service. There is also a thriving craft brew industry in socal not to mention the smaller wine industry in paso robles. however, there are a ton more people in LA to serve so perhaps it's just not possible here to have best of both worlds. this doesn't address what happens in a less densely populated norcal.

            1. re: LurkerDan

              States like TX and CA sell wine and full-strength beers in grocery stores (and liquor in the case of CA) and that hasn't ruined craft beer selection or driven independent shops out of business. Some grocery stores like Central Market stock great product. If you own a store with a great selection and superior customer service, then you shouldn't be worried. The mediocre shops next to grocery stores are the ones that are concerned and are lobbying to keep regulations in place. Weren't all liquor shops in CO supposed to already go out of business if we did away with the regulations against opening on Sundays? :-)

              1. re: rlm

                I don't think "craft brewing would disappear", of course not. The industry would still thrive. But would Boulder support 20 breweries, or 15? I think there's a reason that the craft brewing industry as a whole is against the change. And of course independent stores wouldn't disappear, but many would find it much harder to survive. And no, it's not just the shops next to grocery stores that are fighting this change.

                Why must everything be in one place? We have crappier cheese selection and inferior baked goods (breads and sweets) and inferior meats all because the grocery store now sells them and specialty shops struggle to survive, if they exist at all. How many cheese shops does Boulder have? How many bakeries? And this is a foodie town, supposedly? I just find it a little surprising that a foodie such as yourself (or anyone posting on this board for that matter) would be in favor of continuing this homogenization of our culture, and would be satisfied if just a few specialty shops survived.

                1. re: LurkerDan

                  that's a great question. can you tell my why there are barely any bakeries and cheese shops in this town? what about a fish store or a butcher? it's so odd that those things don't exist or barely exist here in a "foodie" town. I also think LA is an anomaly. people on the outside see freeways and Targets but as long as I have known LA (since early 90's )there has always been strong independent shops that continue to thrive.

                  1. re: trolley

                    Folks, this got pretty personal and unfriendly past this point so we've removed a lot of posts. There were some valid points made in some of them, but overall, the tone got pretty hostile and we couldn't pick and choose posts and still have any of the conversation make sense. If you'd like copies of your own posts that were removed back you can request them by email to

                2. re: rlm

                  i agree rim. i think it's more like fear of the unknown. there is a super lame liquor store down the street which charges 8.99 for sutter home wine. i think a store like Hazel's which is quite similar to BevMo in size and the indifferent service shouldn't be charging some of the prices.

                  where we used to live in LA retail rents aren't cheap and small independent wine shops are thriving. in fact, there's been a resurgence of boutique wine shops and craft breweries. if big box stores were to bring all small shops and breweries to their demise then the independent wine industry in CA would be in trouble.

                  1. re: rlm

                    Well, where I lived in central CA, I worked at an independent wine shop in an upscale shopping center that did good business, had a decent clientele and very knowledgeable staff (most of whom were enology students). But then, a Whole Foods opened in the same shopping center. The shop's sales significantly decreased, and it eventually closed. For many people, like those who like wine, but aren't "into" it, they are perfectly happy buying at the store where they do the rest of their shopping. The majority of the population doesn't care as much about great selection, as long as there's some decent wines to pick from. The small market of true oenophiles who love to talk about wine, seriously taste wine, and get delight out of finding obscure bottles is not enough to keep an independent shop alive in most communities.

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      That's exactly the point. And if you look at a community in CA that does have one or several indy shops, that doesn't prove anything, because the question then becomes how many more indy shops would exist if the big stores couldn't sell wine.

                      In Boulder, I am sure some of the independents would survive, but lots would go under. And while some of those may deserve to go under in that they don't provide great value or service, some of the good shops would go under too.

                      1. re: LurkerDan

                        frankly, i'm ok with any shops independent or chain going under if they can't provide good customer service. that's just one town where the wine shop went under. there's many where that doesn't happen CA, CO or NY or Paris for that matter. and these shops are usually quick to change with the demand or the need of the public. they go on competitive shopping trips to near by stores and see what they can offer that their competitors don't. most wine shops offer tastings and other events to complete with the big box stores. I used to see TJ's managers from HQ shopping at Sprouts. when i worked at a major clothing brand we shopped our competition to see what they were offering. i did the same thing when i worked for a small yoga clothing company that employed less than 20 people. my former company is still going strong and small. hasn't been eaten up by lululemon or nike. there's ways to stay afloat but you have to be willing to play the game by doing a lot of work.

                        1. re: LurkerDan

                          i personally wouldn't mind if all big box stores closed. when I lived in Berkeley, CA i never set foot in the safeway or whole foods. my needs were taken care by the the farmers market, berkeley bowl, monterey market, kermit lynch wines, the shops on hopkins street and the cheese board. i went to TJ's maybe once every few months. I didn't have a car and at that time it was in an inconvenient location in emeryville or i'd have to take the Bart to Albany and carrying groceries by hand was limiting with the walk. so it can be done. i'd buy some low end wines at TJ's and then Kermit Lynch for all other wines.

                          I think berkeley has the opposite problem in that competing with the local grocer berkeley bowl is a tough one.

                          1. re: LurkerDan

                            Yup... I'd rather see the independent shops succeed in their specialty (assuming they're providing a good selection and good service). Large stores make plenty of money selling other items :)

                            1. re: juliejulez

                              I just think it's silly that when I go to Cured to buy cheese, that amazing lemon-rosemary crown which has its own thread here on CH, and wine that I have to go into a separate room for the wine like it's something dirty and pay for it separately.

                              I personally drive all over the metro to support businesses/markets I care about (even though it costs me more time and money) from Marczyk Fine Foods to BoCo Farmers Market to The Truffle to Eat Drink and now The Source, but I can't get TP or contact lens solution and the like at any of these places, so I have no problem with shopping at King Soopers or Costco for this stuff. Even the most hard core foodies I know still have to run into a close-by grocer/big box occasionally for the odd item or two. You won't be forced to burn your Slow Food membership card if you buy dishwasher pellets or thumb tacks at Target. Well, maybe in Boulder proper. :-)

                              1. re: rlm

                                You mention Cured, a shop that has only existed for a few years. Before that, Boulder had no such shop, and Whole Foods and King Soopers are the reason why (and honestly, do we really know Cured's financials?). Yes, it may be silly that you have to go in a separate room for wine, that I can't argue with, but that is entirely different than what this thread discussion is about (or more accurately, evolved into). How the liquor store must be set up (walled off or not) is a separate issue than whether an entity can own more than one liquor store. You could easily get rid of the "wall" and still maintain the multi-owner prohibition.

                                I shop regularly at King Soopers, in part because of the convenience and in part because of the price, and I know I would be unlikely to make the trek to a separate liquor store to find some special wine or beer, when I could be quite happy with the selection in King Soopers. So I would be one of the people killing the independents if the law was changed. But I don't find it a great inconvenience now to go to a separate store and I'd like it to stay that way.

                                1. re: LurkerDan

                                  LD- Boulder had a specialty cheese shop from 2003-2007 on 15th Street. Herb's Meats at BaseMar was there for at least 15 years, before they closed. (Before that, there was also a cheese shop at either Table Mesa or Basemar, I can't remember, it was a loooong time ago).

                                  Both of these shops were owned by Boulder locals, and both owners worked every day to provide great product and service.

                                  Unfortunately, both shops also suffered greatly from the "I'm already at Whole Foods" phenomenon, and closed. Not because they didn't do a good job, but because the traffic all went elsewhere.

                                  Like rlm says, it's work to shop at the smaller guys. It's planning, and sometimes going out of your way to do so. It's understanding that they don't have everything. I do something similar, but I also only pay cash at the smalls, and use the AmEx if I ever have to go to WF.

                                  I always wanted to start something in Boulder like the (now defunct, so there) Portland Public Market, in Maine. It was a large atrium with coffee, bread, cheese, fish, wine, meat, local produce, all independants, but all under a single roof. I think The Source in Denver is trying to do something similar, but with better restaurants. Wouldn't it be great to combine the "one-stop" mentality with independents that specialize in their respective areas? In some ways (cheese, charcuterie, wine, bread and a little misc.) Cured is doing that, esp with Boxcar sharing the space. I hope that people do make that effort.

                                  And one note about the "wall" for booze there- that is required. You can't sell anything above 3.2 in a food store. It has to be a separate entity, with separate register, accounting, and physical space.

                                  But the basic argument stays the same- The larger the entity, the stronger their buying power, and the greater ability they have to negotiate with wholesalers. Little guys don't have that power, so it's generally not possible to offer the pricing that the chains can.

                                  1. re: cheesemonger

                                    I'm not entirely sure if you realize you are making my point; when the big guys get to play, the little guys -- even if they provide great service -- often get squeezed out. Which is why I do not find the law limiting ownership of liquor stores to one per entity to be "silly" and do not believe that things would be hunky dory for all of the good shops out there or all of the micro brewers out there if the law was scrapped. For all of my love of Cured and Herb's, I simply don't and didn't shop there a lot, because it isn't/wasn't convenient.

                                    And yes, maybe it wasn't clear from my earlier post, but I understand that the "wall" is required by statute. My point was simply that law is a separate issue from the single ownership one. rlm appeared to mingling the two, as if they were one and the same. While they both may fall under the heading of "Colorado liquor law", they are not inherently tied together.

                                    1. re: LurkerDan

                                      Yep, I get that we are in agreement on this :) What started out as a "yes, there has been a cheese shop in the somewhat recent past" morphed into more about those shops who have been WF collateral.

                                      I mentioned in another post that one problem I see is that there are a crapload of [large chain] food stores in city limits for a town Boulder's size. 2 KS, 3 WF, 3 Safeway, 2 Sprouts, 1 Lucky's,1 Vitamin Cottage. Is Alfalfa's the only non-chain large grocer? And on the way: TJ's, WalMart. What's the saturation point? Who knows.

                                      How can the independents compete with that much purchasing and negotiating power, and with the volume those stores generate? Chains can afford to lose money for years to get volume established- mom and pop can't really afford that. (oops, there I go digressing again!)