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Food and wine pairings bring new look to Colorado Mountain Winefest

By Dave Buchanan

Colorado Mountain Winefest presented by the First National Bank of the Rockies continues to evolve and one of this year’s more-noticeable changes is the food-and-wine pairings featured Sept. 19-22 at a handful of restaurants in Grand Junction and Palisade.

Gone, for the most part, are the popular but challenging “winemaker’s dinners," those sit-down gatherings that at times turned, well, exuberant, shall we say. In their stead are these more-intimate and affordable (no more than $20) pairings at a handful of participating restaurants.

A list of the restaurants (and menus) is available on the website for the Colorado Association of Viticulture and Enology and Colorado Mountain Winefest.

Similar pairings have been offered in Front Range restaurants as part of the Colorado Urban Winefest and CAVE executive director Cassidee Shull said the idea is a natural for this side of the mountains.

“A lot of restaurants have shifted away from the big dinners and winemakers are so busy during that time of year they simply don’t have the time to spend five or six hours at a dinner,” Shull said. “So we looked at how popular these pairing are during the Urban Winefest and it seems to be a better fit for both restaurants and winemakers.”

Having seen the way Denver restaurants and their customers have responded, this bodes well for western Colorado wine and food lovers.

The menus and wines are created by the individual restaurant, which may offer as many pairings as they feel inspired.

“They all have at least one and some are doing several,” Shull said. “We wanted to keep them at $20 or less, so you can really have fun with it.”

Shull said Bin 707 might have as many as six pairings, which means you can make a night of it there or make that your first stop on your own version of a progressive dinner.

The official pairings menus will be available the 19th through the 22nd, which gives you the opportunity to visit several of the restaurants without breaking the budget.

“We wanted to offer something more of our locals could participate in, and we really love the feedback we’ve been getting from our restaurants,” Shull.

Two sit-down dinners are being offered, both on Sept. 20. Wine Country Inn in Palisade is hosting the Winefest Demo & Dinner (which as of Wednesday had only three tickets remaining) and John Garlich and Ulla Merz of BookCliff Vineyards are hosting Feast in the Vineyards, in their vineyard on 39 Road.

More information on the CAVE web site.




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