Taste of Vail celebrates 20th year
VAIL, Colorado – The Taste of Vail was brought to life 20 years ago by a group of local restaurateurs to showcase Vail’s culinary and off-mountain activities. Susan Fritz, owner of Sapphire Restaurant and Oyster Bar, was one of the original organizers of Taste of Vail. “Vail has a renowned reputation as a recreational destination but we wanted to enhance the area’s food and wine reputation,” Fritz said.Taste of Vail started out as a somewhat small, grassroots gathering of several hundred people but has grown to attract guests from coast to coast, garnering coverage in Wine Spectator, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. “We’re pretty particular about the wineries we include,” Fritz says. “We look for a certain level of expertise and a quality product. The caliber of wines we work with is pretty astonishing and really sets us apart from all the other food and wine events.”The activities at the first Taste of Vail weren’t too different from today’s. There were tastings, demonstrations and apres-ski events. What has changed is people’s understanding and knowledge of food. The past 20 years has seen the creation of the Food Network while culinary travel has become a national trend. Fritz says that when Taste of Vail began, most people had never even heard of cilantro and the gourmet pizza craze had yet to hit. This year’s festival will include seminars about umami (“the little-known fifth taste”) and aphrodisiac foods.Organizers have worked to keep the event fresh, introducing new and tweaking existing components every year. New this year is “Celebrities on Snow,” where guests can spend one-on-one time with vintners and chefs. Also, the Lamb Cook-Off and Apres-Ski Tasting will offer $4 tickets for individual samples, a deliberate effort to make the event affordable and accessible to anyone interested in food. The Grand Tasting and Mountaintop Picnic – which one year featured 40 wineries scrambling to find one corkscrew – remain highlights. For more information, or to purchase tickets for the 20th Annual Taste of Vail, go to http://www.TasteofVail.com or call 970-926-5665.