Category Archives: wine

Winery Colors: Not Just Red & White

Settembre Cellars puts a colorful spin on wine tastings.

SettembreCellarsI didn’t pay too much attention to the adult coloring book phenomenon until I heard a piece about it on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and now, I notice the fad/fashion/trend all over the place.

Blake and Tracy Eliasson, the owners of Settembre Cellars, also noticed. The winery in north Boulder hosts adult coloring sessions every Sunday afternoon from 1 to 6 p.m.  Participants can bring their own coloring books or make a selection from Settembre’s library. While they’re coloring, guests can enjoy they winery’s elegant and balanced wines, available by the glass or flight — or bottle (to take home). I just wonder whether people get wilder as they imbibe — or whether they have problems staying within the lines. If they do, they probably don’t really care.

The tasting room is open Thursdays through Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring picnic fare while they sample the wines. 1501 Lee Hill Road, #16,  Boulder; 303-532-1892.

Fabulous Evening Eats at Buttermilk & Snowmass

Two gourmet mountain dinners & weekend après-ski at slopeside.

AspenFood-logoIt seems that 23 is becoming a lucky number for Aspen foodies. Noteworthy dinners on Aspen area mountains this winter are special evenings at Buttermilk and Snowmass on the 23rd of each of the next three months (and one on the 22nd).

The Cliffhouse at Buttermilk hosts three full-moon dinners (January 23, February 22 and March 23). Guests must skin/hike up the designated uphill route on Tiehack and ski/snowboard/hike down on the designated route. No sleds of any kind are permitted.  Headlamps and reflective clothing are strongly recommended. The cost is $145.

Ride a snowcat to the Lynn Britt Cabin at Snowmass holds two specialty dinners: a $145 four-course cheese-pairing dinner with Laura Werlin on January 23 and a $185 four-course American Chophouse Dinner (i.e., steak featured) by chef de cuisine Robert McConnell with paired wines selected and presented by Master Sommelier Jay Fletcher on February 23.

If these dream dinners are not in the budget (and they certainly aren’t for most of us), affordable après-ski comes to the Lynn Britt Cabin every Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning Friday, February 12 through the end of the season. Guests can go local with $6 Woody Creek Distillers Gin & Juice Cocktails with food specials starting at $5. Entertainment is to include DJ Naka G and Guest DJs, giveaways and a fire pit with outdoor lounge seating.

Great Deal on Denver Winefest Tix

Metro area wine festival for a song.

DenverWineFest2015-dealI plan to be at the upcoming Denver International Wine Festival for several events. I am again honored to be a judge at the October 29 Parisine wine/food pairing competition, when 10 leading regional chefs will vie for honors in their creativity in preparing dishes to pair with 20 gold medal-winning wines from 2015 Denver International Wine Competition. I’m always blown away by the creativity these chefs exhibit.

The Grand Tasting is the highlight of every wine festival, and organizers of the metro Denver event have dropped the price on entry to the Grand Tasting on October 30 — more than 400 wines, beers and spirits, plus small food samples and food for sale —  for three indulgent hours, 6 to 9 p.m. To buy tickets for just $45 each — regularly $75, including a logo glass, go to <> .

The Festival takes place at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, conveniently just off US 36 whose upgrade is almost complete. Spend the night at the Omni for only $99, take a taxi,  use Uber or have a designated driver so you can fully enjoy the evening.

Don’t-Miss Food & Wine Events

Denver, Broomfield & Boulder host three very different events.

Denver Harvest Week, October 5-9

Harvest-Week-logoGrowHaus, a multi-pronged attack on north Denver’s food desert,  an educational enterprise and a supplier of sustainable foods, again hosts Harvest Week. Each night, a group chefs from independent restaurants come together to create pop-up parties (four dinners, one brunch at the GrowHaus, the city’s ultimate urban garden. Every day includes a full bar, copious amounts of food, and endless amounts of fun. All the festivities of the week go to support EatDenver and the Growhaus. Click here for details and tickets.

Flatirons Food Film Festival, October 19-24

FlatironsFoodFilmFest-logoSix days of films (six features plus shorts), special events, talks, a sushi walk and more taking place in several Boulder venues. The Films page contains descriptions and trailers for all of feature-length films, plus information about short films and events. The new Tickets page contains information about individual films and events, plus different types of passes. The big name is James Beard Award-winning chef Andy Ricker of the Pok Pok restaurant empire in Portland, Oregon, who appears Friday, October 23. He is supporting of “Farang,” a documentary chronicling his search for authentic flavor. He has appeared on Anthony Bourdain’s television series, No Reservations and Parts Unknown, and introduces the film and participates in a Q&A session after the screening.

Denver International Wine Festival, October 28-30

Pairsine-logo3The Denver International Wine Festival drops anchor at the Omni Interlocken in Broomfield with a packed schedule of tastings and seminars. Highlights are the Grand Vinters Dinner at the Omni’s Meritrage Restaurant on Wednesday, the Pairsine wine-pairing competition where top regional chefs prepare dishes to pair with gold medal award-winning wines from an earlier wine competition and the Grand Tasting on Friday. This year’s honorary host is Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible. Click here to purchase tickets.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosé

Celebrating a favorite wine for the warm months.

RoseWinesWhen my husband and I visited Greece last year, I started drinking the country’s rosé wines. It started a summer of drinking these light and lovely wines almost every evening. Therefore, I’m cheered that the first-ever Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival is coming to the Omni Interlocken Resort’s Outdoor Pavilion in Broomfield on Thursday, June 11.

Chris and Darcy Davies, the fine folks who run the Denver International Wine Festival and other events celebrating adult beverages and interesting food, are presenting Drink Pink Vino. Davies clears up a common misconception of what rosés are: “Far from being a diluted red, rosés are produced from the same grapes as more full-bodied reds, but the juice is only allowed to ferment with the grape skins for a few days, giving rosés their delicate pink color.  Rosé wine consumption in the U.S. is growing by double digits. More and more producers are releasing their versions of incredibly food-friendly Rosés. The Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival offers wine enthusiasts the chance to sample over sixty new releases right before the summer Rosé drinking season.”

Rosé brands committed to pour at the event include Ponzi Vineyards, Chêne Bleu, Presuqu’ile, Buglioni, Schramsberg, Scharffenberger and Henri Gaillard Rosé Côtes, Barton & Guestier, Saved, Rosatella , Mouton Cadet, Simi, Wild Horse and Creekside Cellars.

Celebrity hosts will include Top Chef Season 5 Winner Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Market and Restaurant and Madeleine de Jean (aka, “Madame Champagne”). Participating restaurants include Blackbelly, Oceanaire Seafood Room and Big Mac & Little Lu’s Seafood Room.

Click here to purchase general admission or VIP tickets.

Well-Priced Wine Pairing with Master Somm’

1515 Restaurant’s May 27 dinner promises great food & wines to match for $65.

1515Restaurant-logoI don’t usually post news about wine-pairing dinners because there are so many, But this one caught my eye for two reasons. First, the wines will be introduced by Emily Papach, the 19th woman in the nation to have earned the title of Master Sommelier (out of 21 total). She will lead a very special wine dinner (menu below) at 1515 Restaurant in Denver on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:00 p.m.  Second was the price. The dinner including paired wines is only $65 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  Believe me when I say that this is a helluva a deal for such a dinner. Food alone at wine-pairing dinners is often that much, with the wines additional.

1515 Restaurant is a fine-dining restaurant known for modern American cuisine in a relaxed yet elegant setting. “This is a rare opportunity to get to know one of the most respected wine experts in the US and taste wines paired with food she recommends,” said restaurateur Gene Tang. himself a First Level sommelier.  “We’re going to have a lot of fun with this event. I’m sure there will be some spirited debates over which ones go best with each course.” I’m really looking forward to this evening.

This splendid disk of roast duck with mixed greens and duck cracklings on mac-and-cheese is not on the Chappalette dinner menu. I offer it here only to show a 1515 Restaurant presentation.
Roast duck with mixed greens and duck cracklings on mac-and-cheese is not on the Chappellet dinner menu. I offer it here only to show a 1515 Restaurant presentation.

About the Sommelier


Emily Papach got on the fast track to Master Sommelier certification, sometimes called the toughest education in the world. After graduating from the University of Virignia in 2044, she started working at Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern in New York City. She was a wine captain and cellar assistant, while completing the Diploma studies for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.  In 2008, she relocated to her home state of Virginia, to become a salesperson for specialty importer and Master Sommelier, Fran Kysela.  Emily then enrolled in the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Course in 2009 and completed the Certified Exam that same year.  In the spring of 2010, she passed the Advanced Exam in Anaheim on her first attempt. Not many Master Somms pass the first time. She is currently the national sales analyst and wine educator at Chappellet Vineyard, a family-owned Napa Valley winery that was founded in 1967.

Below is the menu that Gene Tang has planned and the wines Emily Papach has selected to pair with it. A bonus: Each guest at Wednesday’s dinner will be entered into a drawing to win a 1.5-liter bottle of Cambria wine.

The Menu

First Course

Crispy Fried Hen Egg | Frog Leg ragout, Spring Pea, Ramp, Vin Juane
Wine: Cambria “Tepusquet Vineyard’ Viognier 2013

Second Course

Roasted Sturgeon | Lemon Beurre Blanc, Fiddlehead Fern, Caper
Wine: Cambria “Katherine’s Vineyard” Chardonnay

Third Course

Seared Beef Tenderloin | Bone Marrow Crusted, Rainbow Chard, Wild Mushroom Bordeaulaise
Wine: Freemark Abbey “Sycamore Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Fourth Course

Chocolate and Sea Salt  – Cocoa Nib Tuiles, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Wine: Cambria “Tequsquet Vinyard” Syrah 2012

Reservations can still be made by calling the restaurant at 303-571-0011 or online.

Cortez Could Anchor Colorado’s Next Big Wine Region

Plenty of potential acreage in Four Corners area.

ColoWine-logoWe’ve all heard about the Hatfields and the McCoys, a couple of eternally feuding families on West Virginia-Kentucky line. Southwestern Colorado, specifically McElmo Canyon near Cortez, has its equivalent in the wine biz. Guy Drew and John Sutcliffe are neighboring wine-growers and wine-makers there, but they reportedly get along as well as the Hatfields and the McCoys. I don’t know why, and I don’t really care, but it seems that if they could smoke a peace pipe, they could create a fantastic wine region to both rival and complement Colorado’s two existing American Viticultural Areas, the Grand Valley (i.e., Palisade area) and West Elk AVAs.

A New AVA in the Future?

Godot Communications, a Boulder agency with wine accounts, hosted an intimate tasting the other evening. We sampled wines from just two producers: the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City and the Guy Drew Vineyards in Cortez. And we talked about vineyards and wineries and wines. I learned that there are roughly 1,000 acres planted in wine grapes in Colorado, 85% of that in the Palisade area. Drew and his wife, Ruth, moved from the Denver area not to the Grand River Valley but to Cortez and began transforming a former hay farm into a vineyard, creating a winery and building a straw bale home under the big skies of the southwestern Colorado.


McElmo Canyon presents vintners unique challenges, and Guy Drew for one has addressed them. The vineyards on the 155-acre property are sited to preserve the high desert piñon-juniper landscape, riparian wildlife areas and also the Ancient Puebloan ruins. Land stewardship, thoughtful growing practices, thrifty use of natural resources and respect for cultural resources allow Guy Drew Vineyards to continue crafting fine Colorado wine while safeguarding the future of its historic surroundings. In addition to his own land, Drew has a handful of growers tending 4- to 8-acre vineyards for him. He works with members of the Ute Mountain Utes to grow outside of the tribal park,

Godot’s Jacob Harkins, a friend of Guy Drew, told me that the winemaker has been crunching numbers and  believes that there are up to 40,0o0 acres suitable for vinifera in the Cortez/McElmo area. Think about it: that’s a potential of four times the current state-wide acreage. Once there were apple trees, but when the juice processing plant closed some time in the distant past, growers stopped maintaining the orchards. Just like the Palisade area with its abundant orchards is hospitable to grapes, so is this part of Colorado.

Guy Drew Vineyards has a new tasting room at Mesa Indian Trading Company & Gallery (which locals call “The Pottery”) on US Highway 160 just outside of Cortez. At this time of year, it is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. There is also a tasting room at the winery, where visitors are likely to meet Guy, Ruth or both. The address is 19891 Road G, which is about 1 mil southwest of town. Take l160/491 to the first traffic light and turn right. FoMoInfo, call 970-565-9211.

SmileWink-emoticonAnd if you are of a mind to visit Sutcliffe Vineyards too, the winery and tasting room are at 12174 Road G. FoMoInfo, call 970-565-0825. Just don’t tell either that you visited the other.