Toasting the good times in Castle Pines
By Chris Michlewicz; photos courtesy of Nate Winegar
When Nate Winegar moved to the east side of Castle Pines last summer, he found exactly what he was hoping for – peace and quiet and a star-filled night sky.
He also found a collection of friendly neighbors who he invites to hang out in his furnished garage, where they gab over games of poker, fine cigars and whiskey selected by The 5280 Whiskey Society, a private social club Winegar co-founded. He said the idea is to “create community and connectedness” for the growing population living in The Canyons, a neighborhood that began welcoming its first residents last year.
“I wanted to create a place where neighbors could come and connect, bring food, have a cocktail, and play cards,” he said.
What he and his wife, Claudia, didn’t expect was the presence of wild turkeys, which have become the subject of humorous photoshopped pictures courtesy of Winegar. He puts the turkeys in scenes that make it look like they’re clocking speeders, for example, and posts them on social media platforms.
“That’s been the big news – where they’re sleeping, who they’re attacking,” he said with a laugh.
Winegar, a native Coloradan, grew up in Arvada and later lived in downtown Denver and Cherry Hills before settling in Castle Pines. Empty nesters for a few years now, the Winegars like to go hiking and “glamping” (glamorous camping) in gorgeous locales like Garden of the Gods, Estes Park and Grand Lake. They recently went snowshoeing near Breckenridge and were thrilled to come across some large moose.
With their two sons grown, the Winegars can often be seen with a “four-pound terror” in the form of a Pekingese Pomeranian Poodle – or “peekapoo pomapoo” – named Mittens (a.k.a. “The Notorious M.I.T.”). He’s quite comfortable running the roost and hasn’t been the least bit intimidated by the wild turkeys.
Winegar’s souped up garage sports a custom-built bar and large paintings, like his 4-foot-by-9-foot scene from the Clint Eastwood classic, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It’s the ideal venue for connectivity, fellowship and taste tests with friends, and it was a top priority to finish the garage before any other room in the house.
A portion of Winegar’s free time goes to one of his primary passions: fine whiskey. It’s undoubtedly difficult to say for certain which whiskey is the best, but that doesn’t stop The 5280 Whiskey Society from trying to find out. They travel to Kentucky multiple times per year for from-the-barrel tastings of top selections from Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill Distillery, Old Forester and others.
The seal of approval, from The 5280 Whiskey Society is a coveted stamp, and oftentimes a few bottles from each barrel are sold at Davidsons liquor store. Of course, when the society buys a barrel, members get some of the spirited contents, too.
Whiskey tasking is not his full-time job – Winegar is an administrator for Arapahoe County – but his passion for whiskey and good company mean he devotes a lot of time and effort to the private 265-member club. Official events for The 5280 Whiskey Society (est. 2016) often double as fundraisers for nonprofits like The ALS Association, and top-notch barrels of whiskey are a big draw.
“Because of our connections with the whiskey world, we get rare whiskeys and share them with people so they can get that experience,” he said.