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When a wine bar’s business model is to “save animals by drinking wine,” you can expect cuteness along with a perfectly curated charcuterie board. Case in point: Jessie the rescue dog’s face patterns the Dillon establishment’s bathroom wallpaper, and Bruce—with his one brown eye and one Arctic blue eye—wags his way around the bar room.
Keystone ski instructors turned business partners Erin O’Brien and Allison Buffum opened Saved by the Wine in August 2020 on a mutual proclivity for rescue pups and mindfully sourced food and wine. “I got Jessie in college from a shelter in Arkansas,” says O’Brien. “She was found after a storm in a ditch on the side of the road. Her brothers had drowned. I’ve been determined ever since to do everything I can to better the lives of animals.”
Between them, O’Brien and Buffum bring more than a decade of restaurant experience to their business. Buffum holds a culinary arts degree in baking and pastries and worked as a chef at the Snake River Saloon in Keystone where O’Brien was a server and bartender. O’Brien honed her fine-dining knowledge as a server at Keystone’s historic Ski Tip Lodge and recently passed her first level master sommelier exam.
“We’re like yin and yang when it comes to restaurant experience,” Erin says. “Allison does the back of the house and I do the front!”
Saved by the Wine is a second-story hideaway is situated in a Dillon business complex near the intersection of I-70 and Highway 6—a post-ski perch for travelers craving an approachable upscale happy hour.
At Saved by the Wine, you can feel good about gathering around a pot of Gruyère and double cream gouda fondue with steak tips ($28) alongside a rich helping of black truffle and Colorado wild mushroom gnocchi ($16). A portion of the restaurant’s net profits are donated to animal causes and shelters. The menu cornerstones on artful charcuterie ($26) and fresh French bread ($12) baked in house daily and served with smooth wine-infused butters. Buffum operates the kitchen, shaping elevated comfort offerings with the seasons and has fun whipping up scratch soups culled from the suggestion box. Her tomato bisque is a snow day staple.
Sunset happy hours and lackadaisical date nights revolve around wine flights—try the Owner’s Favorite’s Flight ($44) of four playful six-ounce pours—and games of Sequence or Scattergories on the velvety emerald sofa. The wine menu spans the globe—from Napa to Barolo and Patagonia to Portugal—with a robust bottle list and six pours on tap. O’Brien hand-selects quality varietals favoring sustainable and women-produced wines.
The non-wine-lovers in your group will appreciate the Colorado old-fashioned ($15) made with Breckenridge Distillery port cask finish whiskey and winter sippers like the s’mores martini ($14) rimmed in fudge and graham crackers and topped with a brûléed marshmallow.
Saved by the Wine is comfy and kitschy with loads of greenery, gold and marble bar decor, and a social-media-ready graffiti wall (“I love wine so much,” it reads, inspired by the famous mural in Austin, Texas). On nice winter days, choose a spot on the deck, which is outfitted with fire tables overlooking Buffalo Mountain and is, naturally, dog friendly. Deal seekers should visit for happy hour (Monday to Friday, 3–6 p.m. daily and after 8 p.m.) for $2 off glasses of wine and half off bottles with a charcuterie board purchase.
“We’re a little bit of everything.” Buffum says. “You can come in your ski gear and grab a glass of wine, sit on the couch with your computer, go on a cute date, or come for a full wine tasting experience with your bachelorette party.”
No matter the occasion, be sure to snag a homemade take-and-bake chicken pot pie ($35) and a mason jar of wine-soaked cherries ($10) to enjoy later. After your ski hill commute, it’s the perfect, lovingly crafted mini mountain feast.
765 W. Anemone Trail, Dillon, 970-485-6182
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