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Wait, wait: Colorado Mountain Winefest kicks off today

By Dave Buchanan

When the 19th annual Colorado Mountain Winefest kicks off ..

Wait, wait. It's today. The long-awaited celebration of wine and food starts today and there's still time for you to join in the fun.

You've missed the golf tournament at Redlands Mesa and you're probably out of luck for the much-coveted tickets to the Winefest's highlight event, the Chef Kelly Liken cooking demo and dinner on Friday, but there still are tickets available to the other fascinating seminars.

"The Kelly Liken tickets are about gone," said Sarah Catlin, Colorado Mountain Winefest director earlier this week. "I've been selling them as a package with the demo, dinner and Enstrom's Chocolate and Wine tasting and they'be been really popular."

While no one who has any authority has made any comments yet, it seems this won't be the last chef demo and dinner at the Colorado Mountain Winefest. It's apparent from the success of the ticket sales that there's a demand for events such as this, where a high-talent and very approachable chef brings her knowledge and expertise to the Grand Valley.

But don't overlook the other seminars. Tickets are available online or, since you haven't much time, simply show up at the door.

State enologist Steve Menke (10 a.m. until noon at the Wine Country Inn, $49) will talk about matching wine and food but it's not the high-gloss foodie magazine approach. Instead, Menke, who can make even a reporter into a decent wine taster, will discuss how the separate but similar elements in food and wine can either complement or fight each other.

Also on Friday, one of my favorite sommeliers and college professors, Max Ariza of Johnson & Wales in Denver, will reveal how to appreciate and understand how the individual winemaker can affect the finished product. Tasting the difference in wines made from the same grapes, of which the Grand Valley and the North Forlk Valley have many examples, illustrates the role a winemaker's hands and philosophy has on what's in the bottle. Ariza's presentation is from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel. $49.

The most-famous name in glassware returns this year when Max Reidel leads us on a tasting of wines in their proper glassware. It never fails that the impeccable and charming Reidel impresses the audience with how a wine's flavors and aromas are enhanced with the right glass. The seminar costs $94 but you go home with a set of Reidel stemware worth $116, plus 250 years of glassmaking history. Noon until 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Reidel Tent, Riverside Park.

And, of course, there is plenty of room for you and yours at the popular Saturday Festival in the Park at Palisade's lovely and tree-shaded Riverside Park. From 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. meet winemakers and enjoy the labors of 56 of the state's wineries, listen to good music, watch cooking demos, and hobnob with food and art vendors. Tickets are $43 (add $14 for the boxed lunch) and are available at the gate Saturday. Expect to be carded if you even look close to 21.

That's it for now from me. See you at the Park.

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