Colorado will never be Provence. Or Napa. Or even Walla Walla. But the state’s wine industry continues to mature and grow, making a stop at any of the summer’s wine-related festivals a lot of fun. Wineries throughout Colorado offer tastings at regular weekend farmer’s markets and the grape-focused food festivals that seem to pop up each weekend. A couple of my favorites, and a couple I want to try are:
Boulder Food and Wine Festival. This June 28 festival is in its second year after a well-received inaugural offering of wine tastings and food samples from local restaurants. Tickets are available for just the wine tastings or for wine and food ($35 and $55 respectively) when purchased in advance of $40 and $60 at the gate. All proceed benefit the Boulder Valley Humane Society. For details, call 303.442.4030 or go to www.boulderwinefest.com.
Castle Rock WineFest. This July 19 festival is in its fifth year of offering wine, food, an arts fair, and cooking demonstrations in one of Denver’s fast-growing suburbs. In addition to the tastings during the festival, there are winemakers’ dinners through the week. For details, call 303.688.4597 or go to www.castlerockwinefest.com.
Mesa Verde Country Wine & Art Festival. Wine, history and native culture all come together in this Aug. 22-24 festival in Colorado’s southwestern corner. A winemaker’s dinner is planned for Friday evening at the Far View Lodge within Mesa Verde National Park. A cabernet among the cliff dwellings sounds like quite an experience. Saturday includes tastings, entertainment and artists while Sunday starts with a musical open house at the nearby Guy Drew Vineyards. If all that fine food gets to be a bit too much by the third day, head over to Sunday’s Dawg Days Chili Cookoff in the town of Cortez for more down-home fare. For more information, call 800.530.2998 or to go www.mesaverdecountry.com.
Colorado Mountain WineFest. September wraps up the summer with the state’s biggest wine fest of all on Sept. 18-21 in the town of Palisade, right in the middle of Colorado Wine Country. All proceeds from the festival go toward education, research and purchases to improve grape growing and winemaking in Colorado. One fun way to take it all in is the Saturday bicycle tour of local vineyards. There are also plenty of seminars, workshops, chef duels in the style of Iron Chef and a decadent chocolate and wine tasting. This is a big, popular event so make lodging reservations well in advance. For details, go to www.coloradowinefest.com.