Food, wine and more ease the palate from late summer into fall
August 22-24 – Mesa Verde Country Wine & Art Festival
A highlight for Four Corners wine lovers and art lovers is the annual Mesa Verde Country Food, Wine & Art Festival in Cortez. The festival kicks off with Friday evening (that’s tomorrow!) with dinner in the famous Metate Room in Mesa Verde National Park’s Farview Lodge ($75), It kicks into high gear over the weekend. The wine tasting takes place Saturday at 12:00 noon-5:00 p.m. in Cortez City Park. Prices are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate for the Saturday events. Combo tickets for the dinner and festival are $90. Information and dinner reservations are at 800-449-2288. The festival wraps up with an open house and live entertainment on Sunday from 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. at Guy Drew Vineyard in Cortez and the overlapping Dawg Days Chili Cookoff from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the Cortez Cultural Center.
August 30 – Taste of Keystone
The 20th annual Taste of Keystone takes place at the resort’s Lakeside Village (i.e., near the Keystone Lodge, not River Run Village) from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission is free, and tickets are just $1 each for tastes prepared by the chefs of such Keystone restaurants including as the Alpenglow Stube, Ski Tip Lodge, Keystone Ranch and The Bighorn Steakhouse — plus sweet treats made by Keystone’s gifted pastry chef, Ned Archibald. In addition to great food, there are kids’ activities, live bluegrass and the obligatory silent auction. The event supports Summit County’s Mountain Mentors. For more information, call 970-496-4FUN.
August 30-September 1 – Boulder Creek Hometown Fair
The 10th Annual Boulder Creek Hometown Fair takes place on the Boulder Library Lawn features the Chili Inferno Cook-Off, Great Zucchini Race, pie-eating contests, beer garden, food court and all manner of entertainment for adults and children. The hours on Saturday and Sunday are 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., and 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. on Monday. More information from 303-449-3137.
August 30-September 1 – Oktoberfest
October moves back a few weeks in Colorado. Case in point is Beaver Creek’s Oktoberfest with food booths and a beer garden set up from 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Beaver Creek Plaza. Maybe there will also be some wine! For sure, Bavarian-style cuisine will be sold from Vail Valley restaurant booths. Participants include Alpenrose, Beaver Creek Chophouse, Blue Moose, Coyote Café, Dusty Boot Saloon, Rimini, Saddleridge, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa and guest Austrian chef, Didi Mader. From 12:00 noon to 3:30 p.m., chefs will give complimentary culinary demonstrations at the state-of-the-art demo kitchen located. Free shuttle buses transport visitors from the free Bear Parking Lot along Route 6 in Avon to Beaver Creek Village, and Oktoberfest admission is also free. For more information, call 970-845-9090.
August 29-September 1 – A Taste of Colorado
The state’s big kahuna, attendance-wise, is “A Taste of Colorado,” a Labor Day weekend staple for a quarter of a century. Food — both from regular carnival food stalls an from more upscale eateries — are just part of the busy scene. Word is that participating restaurants include Funky Buddha, The Fire Within, Fat Daddy’s, India House, Gelazzi Gelato, Grand Lux Cafe and Papa John’s Pizza. The festival runs from 4:00-10:00 p.m. on Friday, 10:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 10:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m. on Monday. Admission is free. Purchase tickets (eight for $5) to buy food. For information, call 303-295-6330.
September 6 – Woodland Park Wine & Jazz Festival
This celebration of wine and music takes place at Memorial Park in “Old Towne: Woodland Park from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. to benefit the Charitable Treasures Workshop, which provides a challenging and supportive vocational apprenticeship opportunities for young adults with special needs. Admission to the Woodland Park Wine & Jazz Festival is $25.
September 7 – Denver Food and Wine Classic
The fourth annual Denver Food & Wine Classic takes place at Metropolitan State College of Denver, featuring more than 300 featured wines and spirits, and food from some 30 Denver restaurants from the Aspen Grill to Zengo. The will also be a wine auction, a steel chef competition and culinary demonstrations. The event’s Denver Five Chef Showcase features Keegan Gerhard of D Bar Desserts, Troy Guard currently developing TAG, Matt Selby of Vesta Dipping Grill and Steuben’s, Goose Sorensen of Solera and Tyler Wiard of Elway’s. The Classic takes place from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased online or from a number of retail outlets. The event benefits the Colorado Restaurant Association Education Foundation, Kroenke Sports Charities, Metro State’s Department of Hospitality, Tourism, & Events Program and Post-News Charities.
September 13 – Denver International Wine Competition
The Denver International Wine Competition, once a private event with with winning wines only announced to the public after the competition, is now open to 100 wine-loving guests to taste 250 wine entries from around the world on and cast their own votes for the Consumer’s Choice Awards. This fourth annual event takes place at the Warwick Denver Hotel on Saturday, September 13 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance, and $50 at the door, including a souvenir logo glass. For tickets, call 303-664-5700 or go to the website.
September 19-21 – Colorado Mountain Winefest
Now in its 17th year, this event put Palisade and environs on the nation’s wine map as an increasingly important wine-growing region. The Rocky Mountain Association of Vintners and Viticulturists (that is to say, the winemakers and grape growers) sponsor the Colorado Mountain Winefest. Wine events include tastings of 250 wines from 45 wineries, wine-education seminars and an amateur wine-maker competition. In addition, there will be chef demonstrations, chocolate tasting, live entertainment, ice carving and an optional vineyard tour by bicycle. Adult festival tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the gate, and non-drinker tickets for minors under 21 and designated drivers are $20. Limited VIP tickets are $175. For information, call 970-464-0111 or 800-704-3667.
October 3-5 and 10-12 – Cripple Creek Fall Festival
Food, wine, art and, hopefully, fall colors highlight the two-weekend Cripple Creek Fall Festival in the mountains west of Colorado Springs. I have no details, but the local tourist promotion organization might be able to answer questions. Call 877-858-4653.
October 29-November 1 – Denver International Wine Festival
The Denver International Wine Festival includes tastings, education, restaurant participation and special winemaker dinners. It will take place at the University of Denver’s School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management of the Daniels College of Business. The 2008 schedule has not yet been finalized, but you can see last year’s schedule and extrapolate from that. For information, call 303-664-5700.