Winefest to showcase record 56 wineries

Wineries literally pour it on during the Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade, an annual event showcasing the wine industry in the state. This year, 56 wineries plan to participate. (Photo courtesy Colorado Mountain Winefest)

One measure of the growing wine industry in Colorado is the number of wineries featured at the Colorado Mountain Winefest. This year, 56 wineries plan to participant, the most ever in the 19-year history of the event.

That makes the upcoming festival a bigger celebration by yet another standard, says Sarah Catlin, executive director of the Winefest.

More food and wine events also are planned, including demonstrations by celebrity chef Kelly Liken. Add in live jazz music, ice carving and the popular grape stomp, and there’ll be plenty to do in addition to sampling wine, Catlin says. “People will have something to do all day.”

Make that four days with Winefest activities scheduled for Sept. 16 to 19 at venues across the Grand Valley.

The event is set to begin at 1 p.m. Sept. 16 with a round at the Golf Club at Redlands Mesa. A kickoff wine reception will follow at 6 p.m.

Seminars are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sept. 17. Participants will explore how foods and wines interact as well as how different wine making techniques affect wines made with the same grapes.

Liken, a chef and restaurateur who operates Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, will join in a reception, cooking demonstration and dinner set for Sept. 17 at the DoubleTree Hotel. A reception is set for 4 p.m., followed by a cooking demonstration at 4:30, dinner at 6 and an Enstrom’s chocolate and wine tasting at 7:30. Liken has appeared on the “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chef D.C.” cable television shows.

A series of winemaker dinners pairing Colorado wines with foods is planned for Grand Valley restaurants, hotels and wineries Sept. 17 to 19. Two “feasts in the fields” also are scheduled.

The Festival in the Park, the main attraction of the Winefest, is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 18 at Riverbend Park in Palisade.

A total of 56 wineries and their winemakers will be on hand to pour samples.

Liken will conduct cooking demonstrations, as will Vaughn Hobbs, executive chef with the Viking brand of cooking appliances; Wayne Smith, an executive chef and instructor at Western Colorado Community College; and Kevin Clarke, an executive chef and director of the culinary apprenticeship program at Colorado Mountain College.

The Festival in the Park also will feature live jazz music, ice carving and a seminar featuring wine tasting with Riedel crystal glasses.

The Winefest once again will conclude with a free tour of area wineries.

Catlin said she expects up to 8,000 people to attend the Festival in the Park, with additional attendance at other Winefest events.

Catlin says the Winefest will expand again next year with events planned for June in Denver and the 20th anniversary celebration in September in Palisade.

The Winefest serves as a fund-raiser for the Colorado Association of Viticulture and Enology, a trade association of grape growers and winemakers. The group funds education and research.

Phil Castle
Business Times