Freixenet brings taste of Spain to Grand Junction
The Little City that voted, or How Freixenet cava discovered Grand Junction:
On a recent mid-week evening, Donna Bitting was standing smack in the middle of BIN 707 Foodbar in downtown Grand Junction, enjoying a night she had waited 30 years to arrive.
Freixenet, the world’s leading producer of traditional method Spanish cava, including the top-selling Cordon Negro Brut in its distinctive black bottle, selected Grand Junction and BIN 707 as the site of its exclusive “My City” national promotion. Bitting likely was the reason the event happened here.
“We had Freixenet for our wedding 30 years ago and we’ve always considered it something special,” said Bitting, inclining her head toward her nearby husband, Rollin Bitting. “So when I saw on their Facebook page they were having this promotion, I started calling all my friends and everyone I could think of to vote.”
The Freixenet (it’s said “fresh-eh-net” because it’s Spanish (more accurately it’s Catalan) and not French) “My City” online promotion pitted cava fans from 250 cities around the nation, all voting to host the event in their city, said Lauren Burkhart of Freixenet.
“We thought we might be going to Austin, or Seattle or maybe Chicago, so you can imagine how surprised we were when Grand Junction won,” said Burkhart, laughing at the memory. “We had to scramble for some maps.”
Jesse Hamrick of the New York PR firm Sawtooth Group said he drove 280 miles after landing at Denver International Airport after wisely deciding the ticket from New York ($700) was pricey enough without adding the $300 or so airline tag on to reach the Western Slope of Colorado.
“But the drive and the scenery was great. It’s the first time I’ve ever driven in the mountains so it was pretty interesting at times,” said Hamrick, whose friendly smile over a table full of cava was the first thing to greet party goers.
Grand Junction has about 115,00 residents, probably quite a few less than some Chicago suburbs but apparently GJ has more people interested in Freixenet.
Burkhart said she couldn’t remember exactly how many votes Grand Junction received but she kindly estimated it was in “the thousands.” One key to the vote-getting is the rule you could vote only once per day but as many days as you wanted during the three-month promotion. Rollin Biting admitted voting “at least 17 times.”
“When I saw that rule, I kept calling my friends everyday, telling them to vote again,” said Donna. “I never guessed we could have something like this here in Grand Junction.”
Freixenet is the world’s largest producer of traditional method sparkling wine, which means it adheres to the same fermented-in-the-bottle production methods as Champagne. Along with its second-label Segura Viudas, the company produces some 200 million bottles of cava each year. The production is based in the tiny (pop. 12,345) Catalan town of Sant Sadurni D’Anoia, in the heart of Spanish cava production a few kilometers outside Barcelona.
Having Freixenet’s invitation-only event in Grand Junction was a coup highlighting the interest of the local Freixenet lovers (the party was limited to 50 invitees) and the skills of the talented staff at BIN 707 Foodbar, one of the new establishments enlivening downtown.
“Seriously, you guys out-voted some really big cities for this,” Burkhart said. “I don’t think you won by a whole lot of votes but still you won and here we are. This has been a lot of fun and the people here are so nice.”
BIN 707 Foodbar chef and co-owner Josh Niernberg (his wife Jodi Coleman is the other co-owner) blew up the evening with his impressive and fanciful tapas-like pairings to fit the Freixenet line, from the best-selling Cordon Negro Brut to the pinot-noir-based Elyssia Gran Cuvée.
The pairings included:
- Cordon Negro Brut: Cucumber, Watermelon, Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Watermelon Sorbet, Crispy Parsnip Shoestrings and White Balsamic Vinaigrette.
- Cordon Negro Extra Dry: Olathe Sweet Corn Blini with Creme Fraiche, Black Truffle “Caviar” and Heirloom Carrot Green.
- Cordon Rosado: Crispy Prosciutto Canape with Applewood Smoked Goat Cheese Whipped Cream and Radish, Grilled Peach and Watermelon Pico de Gallo.
- Carta Nevada Semi Dry: Crispy Fried Heirloom Tomato “Sandwich” with Fresh Jumbo Lump Crab, Sweet Pickled Jicama, Micro Greens and Arugula Oil.
- Elyssia Gran Cuvee: Fanny Bay Grilled Oysters, Fruition Farm’s Shepherd’s Halo Cheese and Asparagus Mignonette.
- Carta Nevada Brut: Truffles of Dark Chocolate Chili and High Country Orchard Cherries.