Magazine / People

Barolo Grill owner Blair Taylor imports wine on the side

Blair Taylor examines a bottle of wine from his cellar

Alumnus Blair Taylor owns Enotec Imports, an importer of Italian boutique wines. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Blair Taylor (BSBA hotel and restaurant management ’74) is well known around Denver for his award-winning Cherry Creek restaurant, Barolo Grill, and its legendary annual staff trip to Italy. What most Denverites don’t know is that the fine-food aficionado also owns Enotec Imports, a boutique Italian wine importer.

By age 26, Taylor was working for a French wine distributor, selling wine to French restaurants around the country. He loved the wine business but decided to open his own restaurants. Barolo Grill, his third, opened in 1992.

Barolo was inspired by Taylor’s trip to the French-influenced northern Italian town of the same name. He fell in love with the language, cuisine and wines of the area. Taylor started importing wines from the Italian vineyards he discovered on his trips and bought the import company in 1997.

Enotec currently imports award-winning wines from 27 organic, sustainable vineyards throughout Italy — most have been family-owned for multiple generations — and distributes them to 32 states.

He says the trick is “finding a winery that’s not in the U.S. that has a lot of potential. You also have to find a great property — because you can’t make great wines without great soil — and somebody who has the willingness and patience to do it. There might be a few stumbles along the way — a winery in Italy could have a hailstorm that wipes out their wine production for an entire year in a matter of 20 minutes. You just put your heads together and get through it.”

And his favorite part of owning a restaurant?

“In a 10-minute time span you get to do a little bit of everything,” Taylor says. “You can go from maintenance to production to performance to marketing to PR to standing out front watching your valet parker get arrested for running a stop sign.”

As for those trips to Italy, Taylor says his staff “duped” him into the first one by begging to join him on vacation. They will spend two weeks visiting restaurants, wineries, cheesemakers and olive oil producers on trip No. 14 this June.

“My goals are to keep two very successful businesses running, and they are so symbiotic; they work very well together,” he says. “I come to work every day with a smile on my face and love it every single day.”



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