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A little of everything – even the romance – at Colorado Mountain Winefest

By Dave Buchanan

It’s early afternoon in mid-September as I write this, and the the pewter-colored clouds draping rain across Pinyon Mesa add to the sense that summer is about at its end. While no one is rushing into winter, September and October might be the best months in western Colorado for wine enthusiasts.

This month, as you already know but I’m going to remind you anyway, brings the Colorado Mountain Winefest, set for Sept. 15-18 in Palisade with wine-related events across the Grand Valley. Tickets and general information are available at the Winefest Web site. The general caveat is that unless you’ve already made reservations for one of the special dinners with a winemaker, there’s probably no hope to find a seat.

You can, however, increase your knowledge about Colorado winemaking during a lunch and vineyard walkabout with state enologist Steve Menke. This event at the Wine Country Inn in Palisade features lunch with a food and wine pairing followed by a walk through the nearby vineyards.

The press release claims the saunter through the syrah will “allow participants to learn more about the romance of Colorado winemaking.” Listen. We’ve been friends for a while, now, and if you ever start thinking that there is anything remotely romantic about winemaking, I suggest you find yourself a dark, quiet spot and lie down until that feeling passes.

Spend some time with a busy winemaker, particularly now that harvest is beginning, and you’ll soon discover winemaking is work. It takes a full-time commitment of time and energy, there are no days off, and the biggest rewards are those you feel inside on a job well done. Which, come to think of it, sounds a lot like keeping a romance going, doesn’t it?

But if you want to spend a couple of hours talking wine with a terrific resource and a good guy to boot, spend the $65 for the Dine, Wine and Lunch Experience on Sept . 16. Information, etc., at the Colorado Mountain Winefest Web site.

That same day, the incomparable Max Ariza, sommelier and instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, tells you everything you always wanted to know about hybrid grapes during the “Vini, Vidi, Hybrid” seminar from 1:30-3:30 at the DoubleTree Hotel ($45). Hybrid varietals are the future of Colorado winemaking, and Ariza will tell you why.

And in my opinion, another not-to-miss event is the Farm-to-Table food and wine pairing with Kevin Kidd and Evan Faber of Boulder’s Salt Bistro. Kidd is executive chef and Faber the beverage manager at a delightful Pearl Street Mall bistro that features (features, would you believe?) Colorado wines.These two know their way around a kitchen and a wine cellar and since the bistro opened in 2009 have garnered the street cred needed to climb atop Boulder’s food-crazy atmosphere.

Faber spends hours sharing his knowledge of Colorado wine with both staff and guests, and I’m not aware of anyplace else in Colorado, including and especially the Grand Valley, that has a similar selection and variety of Colorado wines.
The seminar happens Sept. 17 during the Saturday Festival in the Park at Riverbend Park. Tickets for the food and wine seminar are $30. Check the Web site.

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