Wining and dining at their best |

Wining and dining at their best

Story and photos by Carolyn Pope

Sometimes, you’ve got to wonder who writes this stuff. Perhaps it’s the same guys who think up names for new lipstick colors. Now I’m a big fan of Zinfandel – the red kind – but come on. . .

“The ripe, fat black cherry flavors are punctuated with hints of smoked bacon and Asian spice?” And, as a nonsmoker, describing something with the flavor of “dark tobacco” really doesn’t turn me on.

Wine, however, be a “zin” or a “cab,” “merlot,” shiraz” or “chard.” Just fill up my glass and I’ll be happy enough.

The inaugural Vail Food and Wine Festival as a wicked weekend, indeed, full of wine, food, art, more wine, more food … and a little more wine. The event surely had more than one person hitting the Pepcid AC, but anyone who attended bore the telltale sign – a sated smile.

The Vail Valley Wine Auction, an annual event, coincided serendipitously this year with the Vail Food and Wine Festival. This nonprofit event, started six years ago by some members of the local Rotary Club, has evolved into a larger and more successful event, which has, in total, raised more than $100,000. Past beneficiaries have included the Rotary and Paul Harris foundations, Vail’s Rotary Scholarship Foundation, the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, the Vail Valley Charitable Fund and the Gore Range Natural Science School. This year, the event established a culinary scholarship available to students in Eagle and surrounding counties.

Four wineries were represented: Gloria Ferrer; Hendry; The Hess Collection; and Trinchero. They joined together with chefs Dean Waziry of the Vail Marriott, Michael Irwin of Juniper, Michael Glennon of Vista, Jean Luc Voegele of the Sonnenalp and Michel Perrigaud of Michel’s Bakery. These five chefs seduced the crowd with their creativity in the kitchen, and along with the exceptional staff of the servers of the Marriott, nary a complaint was heard.

The event, orchestrated by Bev DeMoss, featured auctioneer Simon Melser, who auctioned off the extensive wine list at over expected value. Cindy Callicrate, a former Rotary president, played a proper Vanna White, strutting magnums around the room. Several chefs even had themselves auctioned off for private dinners. The audience showed its appreciation by bidding as much as $4,000 for chef Waziry. All the chefs who prepared courses that evening donated their time for a package, and Rick Kangas of Grouse Mountain Grill and the Riverhouse in Edwards also threw his toque into the ring.

Enjoying the wine and food were members of the Wine Auction committee, including Susan Pollack, Pete Brill, Rick Kangas, Dean Waziry, Steve Pope, Bob Jamar and Loren Gifford. Also attending were Greg and Chris Moffet, Linda Lomax, Donna Giordano and Rene Blanchette, whose auction paddle never stayed down.

For more information on the Vail Valley Wine Auction, visit

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