Q&A with longtime local wine expert Johnny Ivansco of Sopris Liquors

Staff report


To find out about what’s in store for The Aspen Times’s 2020 Summer Kickoff Virtual Culinary weekend, go to to check out the schedule and register for a virtual 5k and webinars hosted by local chefs and wine experts.

With the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen placed on the back burner until 2021, The Aspen Times has created the 2020 Summer Kickoff/Virtual Culinary Weekend to help fill the void.

The Aspen Times is hosting a collection of virtual events to fill in just a bit, at a time when the town usually is welcoming chefs and sommeliers for Aspen’s annual rite of summer. The Times is hosting four Zoom webinars (as well as a virtual 5K) this weekend. All this week, we are asking some of the hosts about the industry trying to rebound from the pandemic and what this weekend of wine and food means to them.

All donations from the weekend events will be used to provide economic assistance to Roaring Fork Valley restaurant workers.

Today, we talk with Johnny Ivansco, the longtime Roaring Fork Valley wine expert with Sopris Liquor & Wine in Carbondale. He will be hosting an “Old Wines vs. New Wines” Zoom seminar at 5:15 p.m. Friday along with Perrin Wolfe of Old World Wines.

What will you miss most about the Food & Wine Weekend?

I will miss seeing all of my friends in the wine business that I only see during Food & Wine. There is a strong relationship between buyers ,somms and wineries that is a like a close-knit family. The event in general is so much fun and it definitely brings the who’s who of the business to our wonderful valley. This year’s cancellation will break my streak of 25 years of attending Aspen F&W!

We all have specific or special memories of Classics past. What are two or three of those for you?

I have lots of memories. My favorite memories are the past birthday celebration parties my close friend Jason Sterner throws for a group of friends, there are so many unicorn wines opened and drank that day, it is mind boggling.

The other one that stands out is the year it actually snowed. People were walking around and steam was coming out of the top of the wine glasses, it was definitely a bubbly type of day.

What has changed in your business since we have started to reopen?

Being the wine manager at Sopris Liquor & Wine for 12 years, this has changed our business model significantly. We still have the great customer experience when you come in to the store. But now you can have that same experience in the palm of your hand. For a while we had been working on a phone app and website that would enable people throughout the valley to shop our wine selection and have it delivered seven days a week from Aspen to Glenwood. Deliveries have really blown up and I see it as a permanent change that we didn’t have before.

How can the food and wine worlds emerge stronger from this period of time?

I have always been a proponent of supporting local businesses and small importers and distributors, as restaurants start to open, I believe we all will come back strong. We are all in this together. Support small businesses. Shop local as much as possible. It really is something so easy we can all do and more important than most people think.

What has been the biggest thing the community has done to support you since all this began?

To all of our great customers I want to say THANK YOU for all of your support during these hard times. Everyone has been so patient and respectful of the store and all our other customers. From using our sanitation station as you walk into the store to wearing masks and observing our six-feet lines at our registers. We know sometimes things are inconvenient but it’s for the best.