Food & Wine Festival brings 35 wineries to Breckenridge today | VailDaily.com

Food & Wine Festival brings 35 wineries to Breckenridge today

Heather Jarvis
hjarvis@summitdaily.com

The Breckenridge Food & Wine Festival returns to Main Street Station Plaza in its second year, with dozens of wineries and small-plate samplings from a variety of local food vendors. Hosted by Breckenridge company Rocky Mountain Events, the festival will feature a sparkling wine seminar and a wine and cheese tasting with The Cheese Shop of Breckenridge.

After spending two years organizing the new festival, Rocky Mountain Events put on the first Food & Wine last year and exceeded their goal of participants.

"Last year was great; we had about 17- to 1,800 people attend — for first year, we thought that was great," said Shervin Rashidi, from Rocky Mountain Events. "Our goal was somewhere around 15 to 16, and so we're looking forward to this year."

Lots of activities

After learning from the initial event, organizers added more food vendors and wine to this year's lineup. There will be tastings from all of the premier wine regions around the world representing 10-plus countries, with around 250 wines to sample from more than 70 of wineries. Countries represented in the lineup include the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Chile. There will be everything from sparkling wines to rose and the whole spectrum of reds including merlots, cabernets and pinot noir.

"We got great feedback, really positive feedback," Rashidi said of the initial event last year.

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There will be a variety of foods, including Greek, Nepalese, Spanish, mountain comfort food and oysters, as well as chocolate and pie, available as an additional purchase at the event.

Local bands Funky Johnson and Strung High String Band will offer live music throughout the day today, starting at 2:30 p.m. Strung High will open the set, with Funky Johnson taking the stage at 4:30 p.m. DJ Ryo will be the official festival emcee.

The VIP experience will offer a dedicated room with a maximum of 100 people, a sparkling wine and Champagne seminar and cheese pairing.

"From 1 to 2 (p.m.), the VIP people can come in, the food will start and they get an expert education on Champagne and bubbles," said Patrick Smallwood of Rocky Mountain Events.

From 3 to 4 p.m., The Cheese Shop of Breckenridge is partnering with the event to do a high-end cheese tasting and educational seminar, paired with select wines.

Fundraising event

Breckenridge Food & Wine has partnered with the Breckenridge Mountain Rotary Club, providing the organization with its biggest fundraiser of the year.

Last year, the nonprofit raised around $10,000, and the organization hopes to earn even more this year, said Ali Nitka, Rotary president.

The organization brings about 40 volunteers to help with the event, and there will be a raffle and silent auction to help the Rotary raise money. The raffle features a prize of a three-day, two-night trip for two to Napa, including a winery tour, dinner and airfare.

Some of the work the Rotary does is sponsor exchange students, help support the FIRC and sponsor Project Healing Waters, a service for disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly-fishing and associated activities including education and outings.

"We work really closely with Wounded Heroes; we raised over $2,600 for them at the July 4th parade," Nitka said of another organization that works with veterans.

The silent auction will feature items donated to the Rotary from the community, including growler refills from Broken Compass, items from Spice Merchants and gift certificates from local businesses. Nitka said the organization received a lot of support without hesitation from businesses around the community with donations.

"It's been a great success," Nitka said. "It's awesome working with a company like (Rocky Mountain Events) that's already local in the community, and so they are involved, they care about that aspect of it and what we do with Rotary."