Great week of wine capped by Colorado Urban Winefest

John Barbier of La Maison Belle Vie winery in Palisade pours his 2012 Merlot on Saturday during the Colorado Urban Winefest at Denver’s Infinity Park. Barbier was among the 40 or so wineries, meaderies and hard cider makers at the festival.



I stopped along the runoff-swollen Colorado River on Saturday night on the way home from the Colorado Urban Winefest in Denver, just to listen to the voice of the river.

A very busy Colorado Wine Week 2014 wrapped up with Saturday’s fourth annual Urban Winefest, a week that featured wine-related events every night (especially if you count the 50 or so restaurants offering the Sips and Snacks small-plate pairings for $20 and under), and a few quiet moments alone were welcome.

The week’s events, sponsored by the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE) and the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, began June 1 when more than 150 people turned out on a Sunday evening for the Farm-to-Turntable Keg Wine party at Ben Parsons’ Infinite Monkey Theorem urban winery in Denver’s upscale River North (RiNo) District.

A few days later, another crowd showed up at the Green Russell on Denver’s Larimer Street to cheer on their favorite mixologist in the always-entertaining wine-cocktail competition.

The winning cocktail, featuring the WTF (Wine That’s Fun) Red blend from winemaker Michelle Cleveland of Creekside Cellars, was created by Robert Corbari of the Populist, also a bar and eatery on Denver’s Larimer Street.

The highlight, of course, was Colorado Urban Winefest, summer sister to the Colorado Mountain Winefest each September in Palisade, which again this year took over the grassy spaces at Infinity Park in Glendale, where winelovers were blessed by cool temperatures and overcast but not rainy skies.

Observers said attendance was up some 10 percent or more from last year, reflecting the matter of event-goers growing comfortable with the event and the location.

“I think people finally are identifying with the park and the Winefest,“said Jacob Harkins of Godot Communications, the event’s marketing firm. “We’ve had a great turnout this year, and I think people are starting to get how serious Colorado wines can be.”

The attendance was strong all day and there were manageable lines at most of the booths, part of the attraction being the knowledge shared by winemakers with customers curious about Colorado wines, meads and hard ciders (there was a good crowd in front of Paonia’s Big Bs Hard Ciders all day long).

I’m not sure how Winefest organizers are going to fit more people into the park’s present configuration, but that is the least of their concerns.

Even with a slight increase this year in ticket prices, there still were people coming in as the event entered its final hour.

It’s a fun event — it’s very people oriented, as winefests tend to be — and there were lots of good wines to share and remember.

And some fun stories. I ran into Sheena Sayed and David Nix, both from Denver, at the Mesa Park Vineyards booth, where they were buying a couple of wines from winery co-owner Brooke Webb.

Sheena said this was their second Urban Winefest.

“Last year was our very first date,” she beamed. “We had a wonderful time.”

And to prove her words, she held out her left hand, on which she was wearing a golfball-sized diamond.

Not everybody gets engaged at Winefest, at least not in that sense, although no one can blame you if something very good happens.

It just shows you how much of a family industry Colorado wine continues to be.

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