Harvest hootenanny for pets | VailDaily.com

Harvest hootenanny for pets

Matt Zalaznick
Marti Hurd and Stephanie Samuelson of Eagle-Vail start the grape stomping off at the Harvest Party which was sold out and raised money for the Eagle Humane Society and pets of New York.

Gourmet appetizers and fine wine will also be tasted for the good of the Eagle Valley Humane Society at the third annual Harvest Wine Party at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion, sponsored by Beaver Liquors.

“It’s a mini-Taste of Vail that you can actually afford to go to. It’s $40 instead of $400,” says David Courtney, co-owner of Beaver Liquors.

The Harvest Party, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., is part cocktail hour, part wine-and-cheese reception and part hootenanny. It was designed not to be a stuffy affair, Courtney says.

“There’s the 21-year-old guy that lives in Eagle-Vail and the 50-year-old guy that owns a house in Cordillera. It’s not a $200-a-plate black-tie dinner,” Courtney says. “It’s a blast.”

Several Vail Valley restaurants will serve specially prepared dishes, and Courtney will bring the wine to match, he says. Tickets, available at Beaver Liquors and going fast, cost $40.

“We get local restaurants to do the food and they fax us a menu and we match the wine with the food,” Courtney says.

And the night ends with folks stepping into a big barrel and squashing California grapes that will be made into wine for next year’s Harvest Party.

“I wore my $3 outfit from the thrift store and no socks,” Adrienne Beck said after stomping grapes at last year’s Harvest Party. “I came to jump around and squish things.”

The wine-stomping gives folks an educational, behind-the-scenes look the making of wine.

“A lot of people know how to get the wine to the table, but not a lot of people know how to get the wine to the bottle and we’re getting it in the bottle,” said Stephanie Samuelson as she toweled off her ankles at last year’s party. “And I like the fact that next year, I’ll know what I’m drinking.”

This year, folks will drink the wine made from grapes squashed last fall.

“I do the grape bucket every year and it’s a lot of fun,” says Char Quinn, director of the Eagle Valley Humane Society. “The wine from the year before last tasted great.”

Last year’s Harvest Party raised $9,000 for the Humane Society, Quinn says.

Donations to the Humane Society have been down this year, she says.

“We need all the help can get,” Quinn says. “We need the money to help homeless animals in Eagle County and help people spay and neuter pets when they can’t afford to.”

The Humane Society seeks homes for the dogs and cats at the Eagle County Animal Shelter. Currently, there are four dogs and six cats up for adoption at the shelter, Quinn says.

There will also be a “blind” tasting at this year’s Harvest Party, where aspiring sommeliers can test their savvy at sniffing out wines. There will also be a raffle for the grand prize, a trip for two to San Francisco that includes a hot-air balloon ride over the vineyards of Napa Valley, Courtney says.

But it isn’t just the invigorating sensation of squashed slime between the toes that lures folks to the pavilion. They also show up to donate the $40 ticket price to a good cause – and that’s pets, whether you own one or not.

“I think pets contribute as much to us as we could ever contribute to them,” Keith Dienglewicz said at last year’s Harvest Party. “My girlfriend and I live in a pet-free apartment, and we’re kind of envious.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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