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Oh, wait: The Denver winefest is on, after all

By Dave Buchanan

Colorado Mountain Winefest is spreading its vines.

The popular 20-year-old event held each fall in Palisade will have a new sister event in Denver this spring when the Colorado Winefest is uncorked June 10-11 at The Shops at Northfield Stapleton.

The Palisade winefest isn't going anywhere but the Denver event gives the state's burgeoning wine industry an opportunity to present its wines in a different setting.

"I think first and foremost this is going to be different kind of event than we have in Palisade," said Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. "Palisade is more of a destination event while the Denver winefest will have a distinctly urban feel to it."

Instead of being held in a setting similar to Palisade's tree-shaded Riverbend Park, the Denver event will be showcased down the main street of the open-air Stapleton shopping district.

Colorado Mountain Winefest director Sarah Catlin, who also is overseeing the Denver show, said 48 wineries already have registered for the June winefest.

"I think that's an exceptional response to the first year of an event," Catlin said. "I'm looking forward to having a great synergy between the two events."

Both events are part of and benefit the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology, also known as CAVE. The CAVE board initially announced last November that the Denver event was going to be put off until 2012.

“The Winefest committee worked very hard to put everything together and we were at the point to go for it but the board decided the economy wouldn’t support it,” Catlin said. “Also, our ticket sales (for the Colorado Mountain Winefest) were down a bit last year and that was some concern, also.”

Catlkin said the 2010 Winefest sold 6,600 tickets compared to 7,200 at the 2009 event.

However, sales of the more-expensive VIP tickets were up substantially in 2010, which offset some of the general admission loss.

“Overall, we weren’t down that far in income,” said Catlin. She said the CAVE board does not release income figures.

However, once it was seen how much of the groundwork for the Denver event had been finished, the board reversed itself, Catlin said.

“I sent out a press release saying we would wait a year for the Denver event but in January the board decided to go ahead with it because we already were so far along.”

Catlin said the poster and graphics for the Denver event will feature Cynthia Duff’s “The Party Animals,” which was the artwork for the 2010 Colorado Mountain Winefest.

“I used ‘The Party Animals’ for all my promotions because I already had the art and the graphics done and I just changed it to say ‘Denver,’” Catlin said.

She said a Denver-specific art contest is planned for 2012.

Caskey said that among the differences adopted by the Denver event is entertainment by street performers rather than the jazz band that plays at Palisade.

The Colorado Mountain Winefest celebrates its 20th anniversary Sept. 15-18. Information on both winefests is available here.

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