Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival starts Friday |

Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival starts Friday

Allyson Litt
Guests enjoying the fine selection of wines and cocktails while sampling an assortment of food at the Grand Tasting during last year's Wine and Spirits Festival.
Zach Mahone | Special to the Daily | Beaver Creek Resorts

BEAVER CREEK — When you think of a wine and cocktail event, you might picture a few suit-and-ascot sporting gentlemen sitting around a white tablecloth table, sniffing their glasses and discussing floral notes. The Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival, however, is nothing like that. It’s not nearly so buttoned up. Event organizers bill it as “unpretentious” and a “great place to learn.” And a few of the big events don’t even take place inside.

“It’s August in Beaver Creek, why the hell would you sit inside?” asked Grouse Mountain Grill’s executive chef David Gutowski.

Gutowski poses a good point. With the summer season still in full swing, there’s no better way to enjoy the weather than to take a hike and enjoy some gourmet food and wine, right? Cue “Vino Viaggio” (meaning “wine journey” in Italian), a new-to-the-festival event that takes place on Saturday beginning with a hike on Beaver Creek Mountain led by a guide from the Beaver Creek Hiking Center. Taken from the old Italian concept of farm-to-table dining, the hike ends with a family-style luncheon at Strawberry Park. The cuisine will be prepared by Grouse Mountain Grill chefs and paired with fine wines by sponsor Marchesi Antinori, one of the biggest wine companies in Italy.

Gutowski and his team will prepare Italian menu items such as a roasted corn salad and eggplant caponata, tomatoes from Eagle Springs Organic with homemade ricotta, and savory porchetta from Boulder. For dessert, Gutowski will combine juicy Palisade peaches with goat’s milk ice cream.

“You hike, come eat at two giant picnic tables and sit by people you don’t know, and you chat, in shorts and sneakers,” Gutowski said. “You might as well enjoy yourself.”

With events taking place throughout Beaver Creek, both in and out of doors, the Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival returns Friday through Sunday.

‘Always a good time’

Presented by Wine Spectator Magazine, the three-day festival kicks off its epicurean extravaganza Friday at 3 p.m. with Manhattans in the Mountains, sponsored by Maker’s Mark. Held in the private dining room at the Park Hyatt, this special sipping event incorporates the history of the premium Kentucky bourbon whiskey, and likely will spark some great conversation.

“If people can make it out Friday, our kick-off events always have high energy that set the tone for the weekend,” said Cat Coughran, Beaver Creek’s director of events and sponsorship. “It’s meeting new people, hanging with old friends — always a good time.”

Chefs from various restaurants in Beaver Creek play an important role throughout the weekend, providing menus true to Colorado fresh cuisine.

“We wanted to focus on leveraging the food that’s available to us; it’s a celebration of Beaver Creek and Colorado,” Coughran said.

For more Italian-themed, outdoor events, people can attend the creek-side wine seminar and cooking demo sponsored by Opici Wines. Group 970 corporate chef Jay McCarthy will lead the demo on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Beaver Creek Kitchen Pavilion.

Those who need to satisfy their sweet tooth may want to attend the Pastries and Port event in the Park Hyatt dining room on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Hosted by Park Hyatt Beaver Creek’s pastry chef Janielle Hultberg and presented by Premium Port’s Paul Mugnier, people will learn pastry techniques while pairing the sweet treats with the perfect port.

Grand finale

If you can’t make it to all of the events, Coughran advises going to the Walk-Around Grand Tasting held Saturday evening in the Beaver Creek Black Family Ice Rink. For $75 a ticket, it’s the best way to sample all the goodies that Beaver Creek has to offer.

“Everyone is at the Grand Tasting — all the chefs, wineries, and spirit providers,” Coughran said. “It’s a great time to throw on a cocktail dress and socialize.”

Stepping into its seventh year, the festival has come a long way and has been re-imagined for today’s enthusiasts. The evolution of beverage festivals has come a long way from the time of wine snobs and fancy gatherings.

“It’s about people open to trying new things,” Coughran said. “Any event you go to this weekend will be a great place to learn in an unpretentious environment.”

Be sure to pace yourself and mind the buzz-inducing altitude, because Sunday at 11 a.m. is Four x Fun, where people can take the Centennial Chairlift up to Spruce Saddle for more mountain-top fun. People can participate in disc golf, jeep tours, hikes, and enjoy a private wine garden and picnic atop Beaver Creek Mountain.

Whether you go to events wearing sneakers or high heels, you’ll leave the Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival with a good taste in your mouth and anticipating its return.

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