Corx corks wine at downtown tasting room

Montana is a state well known for its breweries. Bozeman alone has four with two more opening this year. However, Montana is not frequently associated with wineries. But a local business is breaking into that market in Bozeman.

“Corx is unique because we are blending and bottling our own wine here,” said co-owner Brett Archer. He and his business partner Wesley Stewart started Corx to appeal to wine novices and connoisseurs alike, from an accessible and drinkable white blend to a potent and structured Syrah.

The tasting room itself, located on Main and Black Streets, is inviting and follows the guidelines you expect out of a hip Bozeman establishment. Edison bulb mason jar pendants cast warm light on rustic wood accents and locally-inspired paintings. “It’s a great place to have a glass of wine while you’re doing your homework, but it’s not so dull that you feel like you’re at grandma’s house either,” said Archer.

While the décor feels sophisticated, the wine bar’s staff is anything but uptight. Manager Steve Olp energetically bounds around pouring wine and offering clever quips without pause. In general, “amiable” doesn’t adequately describe just how friendly and engaging the staff is. They’re happy to offer insights on any of the wines or just chat about your weekend.

Currently, Corx offers two white wines and four red ones, though they plan to expand over the next year to offer 18 wines. I took a particular liking to the Washington Malbec. With an inviting bouquet of cranberry and sweet maple, the palate opens ups with bing cherry, earth and unmissable oak. The structure is firm with delightful, velvety tannins. Corx completes the experience by providing a wide selection of cheeses. The menu offers pairing suggestions for each wine.

Corx works with small vintners to develop varietal wines and blends. Currently, five of the six wines are sourced from Washington and the sixth from outside of Salem, Oregon. After the wine is made in its appellation state, it’s shipped to Bozeman where it’s blended and bottled right in store. Corx is among the first 20 businesses in the state to be licensed as a winery.

The process of choosing “base” wine with which to blend to perfection is incredibly time-intensive. “A lot of it comes down to who is interested in working with us,” said Archer. Corx has found some skepticism among the vintners (wine makers) who “have not been sure what to make of us.” Archer explained that “It’s a new concept.” Once they have interested vintners, Archer and Stewart must taste and make choices. To select the six current wines available, they went through 150 samples from vintners.

Archer and Stewart want Corx to play an educational role as well. “Wine is growing in popularity and a lot of people like to learn about it,” explained Archer. Starting as soon as next weekend, they’d like to offer a “Sunday School,” which would be an hour or hour and a half-long course where attendees can learn more about wine, wine tasting and pairings with cheese and dessert hands-on. The course would be offered one or two Sundays a month. “Ideally in the future we would like to organize tasting trips,” added Archer. He would like to see Corx put together small trips to wine regions like Napa and Walla Walla.

Corx is also planning on offering breakfast on the weekends, with a local food truck serving food while Corx serves sangria and mimosas.

For those truly enamored with the winery, there are two membership options that include three bottles of wine and two cheeses each month in addition to offering 15 percent off anything in-store. College students interested in Corx also benefit from a 15 percent discount with their student ID.

Archer and Stewart are hopeful that their unique idea will be well-received in Bozeman. “We’re developing our own taste and we’re serving wine that you can’t get anywhere else in the country,” explained Archer. “I think most of all what we’re wanting to do here is be that approachable wine place. And if you know nothing about wine, you can feel comfortable walking in the door.”

Corx is located at 113 East Main. It can be contacted at corxmt.com or at 551-5066.