Vintner Happenings; Your local source by Barbara Wickes

enter image description here What Makes the Snowmass Wine Festival So Popular?

This year's Snowmass Wine Festival will take place on Saturday, September 16, from 1:30 - 5:00 PM in Town Park (next to the Snowmass Rec Center). Now in it's 16th year, this intimate wine festival is rapidly becoming a favorite among some of America's top wineries - and for good reason - according to wine coordinator Barbara Bakios Wickes.

The best wineries and distributors have a lot of choices when it comes to wine festivals – especially in the fall, "but once they come to Snowmass, they want to come back every year," Wickes explains. "They love the attendees, because they are knowledgeable and sincerely interested in fine wine; they love the comfortable, uncrowded space in the outdoor tents; and of course, they love being in Snowmass Village during the height of the fall color season."

So what else makes the Snowmass Wine Festival unique? Several factors according to Wickes. Nowadays, many wine festivals are organized by large, impersonal companies. By contrast, every winery at the Snowmass Festival is invited personally by Barbara Wickes. After 38 years in the wine business (she opened and still owns Sundance Liquor & Gifts), Wickes has built relationships with many people in the grape growing, winemaking, and wine distribution businesses. "Her rolodex is our secret weapon," according to one of the festival organizers.

Space for vendors who want to show off their wines was sold out in late June this year; Wickes has begun a waiting list for 2018.

The Snowmass Wine festival was founded in 2001 by the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village, and its volunteer members still organize the event, erect the tents early in the morning, fill water pitchers, empty the spitoons, and take down the tents in the evening. Profits do not go to an event-organizer; the funds raised are allocated to non-profit organizations across the Roaring Fork Valley, worldwide Rotary projects, and to scholarships for seniors at Basalt High School.

Another secret to the success of the Snowmass Wine Festival is the food; 20 local restaurants intersperse food stations among the wine tables – all at no charge to the event or the attendees! And generous Snowmass Village Hotels and Condominiums host most of the vendors during one of the busiest weekends of the fall.

Interestingly, the now-famous Aspen Food & Wine Classic was born in Snowmass Village in 1983. it was founded by wine store owner, Gary Plumley (Of Grape & Grain) and restauranteurs, Ruth and Bob Kevan (Chez Grandmere). Food & Wine magazine became the host of the event in 1986, and it has become the most renowned event of its kind, attracting more than 5,000 attendees each year. And yet, in 2017, we think you will agree; there's something very appealing about a high-quality, low-cost, right-sized wine celebration in Snowmass Village!

If You Come

Snowmass Winemakers Dinner: Friday, September 15, 6:30 PM

The kickoff to the Snowmass Wine Festival is a wine pairing dinner on Friday evening at the Viceroy Snowmass. This amazing four course dinner will be prepared by Executive Chef Will Nolan, and it is appropriately named "California Dreamin." The reception and dinner will be accompanied by wines selected from seven distinct viticultural areas in California: Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Ynez, Calistoga, Santa Barbara, and Monterey.

Friday's dinner requires a reservation ($135) separate from the ticket for Saturday's Grand Tasting. This popular dinner sells out every year, so buy your tickets early at snowmasswinefestival.com.

Grand Tasting: Saturday September 16, 1:30-5:00 PM

300+ Wines 20 Food Stations 6 Colorado Craft Liquor Companies Silent Auction Music by DJ Boogie Down Light & Sound

Prepurchase Grand Tasting tickets and save $10. Available at Sundance Liquor & Gifts or online at snowmasswinefestival.com ($85). Tickets will also available "at the door" on Saturday for $95. (Compare this to the Aspen Wine Festival tickets - $1650 in 2017!)

Author

Barbara Wickes

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