From the Vine: Must-attend Fall Wine Festivals

Words by John Caldwell 


Beer is Fine, but Wine is DA-VINE!


Calling all high-altitude oenophiles. This fall season is your chance to partake in world-renowned varietals in truly spectacular mountain settings. And aside from the excellent wines, these festivals have much to offer in the form of food pairings, live music, and more. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the harvest season. Here are our picks for some of this year’s best fall wine festivals. Cheers!

Snowmass Wine Festival

September 14-15

A long-standing tradition, this festival is hosted by the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village and gives attendees a weekend of choice wine tastings, savory food from local restaurants, and more all in the beautifully elevated locale of Snowmass. First up on Friday evening is the four-course Wine Dinner at the Viceroy. It’s named “Northwest Passage” because it invites you to explore the distinct wine growing regions of Oregon and Washington with featured wine growing experts as special guests. Five wines professionally paired with courses such as spiced salmon á la plancha and short rib risotto will have participants feeling like royalty. Saturday’s Grand Tasting is equally as noble. Top wines from around the world and cuisine from the Roaring Fork Valley’s best restaurants will be served all afternoon. And don’t miss the Silent Auction for a chance to win items from local shops and restaurants, acclaimed wines, and choice artwork. One of the best things about this festival? Event proceeds are allocated to non-profits across the Roaring Fork Valley, charities worldwide, and the Basalt High School Senior Scholarships.

Taste of Vail Fall Wine & Food Classic

September 21-22

Showcasing the exceptional chefs in Vail and the nation’s top vintners, the Fall Wine & Food Classic is a platform for promoting the Vail lifestyle through an ever-evolving collection of tasty food and drink with a stunning backdrop. Aside from the traditional tastings and food pairings, this festival offers uniquely active events such as the Berry Picker Hike and Brunch (the scenic Berry Picker Trail is 3.2 miles long and offers idyllic views in the area) and the Bike and Brunch (a gorgeous 12-mile cruise hosted by Lionshead Charter Sports). Other events include wine seminars, wine dinners, and gatherings hosted by special guests Paul Wade (chef at Tavern on the Square at the Arrabella) and John Zavoral (executive chef at Toscanini). Save room for the granddaddy of them all at the Grand Tasting. Taking place at the iconic Gerald Ford Amphitheater, the Grand Tasting is a picnic-style event in which local restaurants serve up their finest tastings, live music plays, and over 25 wineries and 20 restaurants are featured. Yes, this is wine and food taken to new heights.

Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta

September 23-30

Seventy-five restaurants around Santa Fe, New Mexico team up with 90 of the nation’s choicest wineries for several days of glorious sipping and munching. Wednesday through Friday sees a whole slew of local eateries (Santa Fe is well-known for its fine dining) hosting extensive wine dinners featuring sought-after vintners such as Hess Collection, Duckhorn, Trinchero Family Estates, Silver Oak, and Antinori. Other events include the Reserve Tasting (100 participating wineries and proceeds benefitting local education programs), Live Auction Luncheon, Guest Chef Luncheons, Wine Seminars, a Gran Fondo (bike event), Gruet Golf Classic, Champagne Brunch, and Film Fiesta. Whew, let us catch our breath for a minute. Everything culminates with the Grand Tasting at the Santa Fe Opera on Saturday. Billed as “the most fun you can have with a wine glass,” attendees can enjoy sips from 100 world-class wineries and tastes from the finest local restaurants on a divine fall afternoon. And be sure to taste varietals from Ramey Wine Cellars, which is this year’s featured winery. As an added bonus, all profits from this festival are reinvested into resources and education for the Santa Fe restaurant community.