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Wine festival begins Friday

Amanda Toy

— More than 1,000 people and 300 to 400 types of wine are expected to descend on town for the inaugural Steamboat Wine Festival, which begins tonight.

The festival runs through Saturday and will benefit the Steamboat Arts Council and events such as the ongoing Beaux Arts Festival.

Steamboat Springs joins a long list of Colorado towns that host wine festivals, including Vail, Aspen and Telluride.

“It’s a popular thing,” said Mike Kirlan, one of the event’s presenters. Kirlan thinks Steamboat is an ideal place for hosting wine festivals.

“Steamboat is a good town for (a festival) because we don’t have many events like it, and we’re a wonderful destination resort,” he said. “This is becoming a very good wine town.”

With a wide array of events, wine lovers and connoisseurs aren’t the only ones who will find something to their taste.

Local restaurants Tobiano and L’Apogee are hosting special wine-maker dinners tonight. La Montaña, Cafe Diva and The Cabin will hold dinners Saturday. Each dinner will feature carefully chosen wines to complement each course.

“(Wine experts) will stand up and talk about each wine, and then we’ll bring out each course that we’ve paired with it,” said Damon Renfroe, La Montaña’s executive chef. One white wine and five red wines, all from Spain, will be served at La Montaña’s dinner.

“Everyone will be drinking the same wine at the same time,” Renfroe said.

On Friday and Saturday, wine experts will hold seminars and guide festival participants through tasting hundreds of wines from Italy, Spain, France, Australia and Napa.

Kirlan said that everyone, regardless of their knowledge of wine, would be able to attend and enjoy the seminars.

“None of the seminars are too advanced for anybody to enjoy them,” Kirlan said. “If you’re just getting into wine, I would definitely recommend going to the two main tastings and also a couple of the seminars.”

Wine 101, for example, is a seminar specifically designed for those who know little about wine.

More advanced seminars are planned for later in the day, such as the “The Many Faces of Pinot.”

“They’ll be introduced to some pinots that they’ve probably never seen so far,” Kirlan said.

Along with Friday night’s grand tasting will be the Steel Chef competition, in which four local chefs — Chris Wyant from The Cabin, Damon Renfroe from La Montaña, Jason Salisbury from Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill and Kate VanRensselaer from Cafe Diva — put their skills and creativity to the test. After some mystery ingredients are unveiled, each chef must incorporate the components into as many dishes as possible in 30 minutes.

“Basically, you take all the things you like to cook with and hope that something will pair up with it,” Renfroe said.

Games of bocce, or Italian lawn bowling, also are planned for Saturday afternoon. Courts will be set up by Torian Plum, and equipment will be provided, along with experts to explain the game.

Tickets for the events range from $15 to $55 and are available at the door.


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