Stroll of Steamboat brings locals, visitors out to Wine Festival | SteamboatToday.com

Stroll of Steamboat brings locals, visitors out to Wine Festival

Nicole Inglis

David Walden, district manager for Heck Estates, pours a glass of wine for Erin Dickerson during the annual Wine Festival tasting in downtown Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon.

— This is how Steamboat gets dressed up.

In downtown Steamboat Springs on Friday evening, linen and khakis were blowing in the evening breeze as residents and visitors lounged at various downtown restaurants.

Some sported sunburns, and all sported smiles as they tried wine after wine at the Stroll of Steamboat Grand Tasting, part of the ninth annual Steamboat Wine Festival.

At Cottonwood Grill on Yampa Street, where couples lounged on the green grass by the Yampa River, Carol Fischer was wearing a beaded necklace with a logo that read "7 Deadly Zins."

"We planned to be here for the wine festival," said Fischer, who is visiting Yampa Valley resident Bob Dausman from her home in Indianapolis. It's her fourth Steamboat Wine Festival in a row. "We've always had a great time. We love food, and we love wine, and we love wine. And we love Steamboat.

"Years ago we used to ski," joked her husband, David. "Now we just drink wine."

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In 2011, the festival served 2,800 participants, 70 percent of whom came from outside Steamboat. The event is put on by production company Team Player Productions, which also produces the Taste of Fort Collins festival.

The festival continues Saturday with seminars and a Toast of Steamboat Grand Tasting at Steamboat Ski Area.

But the event is much more than a chance to savor 550 wines from around the world.

"It's the camaraderie," Carol Fischer said.

The wine festival also isn't just about wine. Denver resident Dave Singer, of Denver, was visiting Steamboat for his sixth wine festival and carried a Stella Artois chalice of massive proportions around the lawn at Sweetwater Grill, one of eight stops on Friday's stroll. He said the glass could hold 16 Stella Artois beers.

"The wine festival is about celebrating life," Singer said. "Whether it's Stella, wine or vodka, it just matters that everyone can come up and enjoy it."

In his back pocket, of course, was a signature Steamboat Wine Festival glass.

"This is God's country," he said about the Yampa Valley. "It's better than Aspen."

His neighbors in Denver, Julie and Bill Jennings, said the couples planned to go to the three grand tastings and spend the rest of their time hiking, biking and trying out the Alpine slide at Howelsen Hill.

"It's great scenery and great wine," Julie Jennings said.

And the event wasn't just for visitors, either.

Steamboat residents JoAnna Liberatore and Frank Cefaratti were walking down Seventh Street on Friday evening with wine festival glasses in their hands.

Their hedonistic grins didn't give away their true motives: They were collecting wine labels in a way made possible by new media.

They took business cards from each winery they visited and also took photographs of the wine labels with their smartphones. Liberatore said she had an app that could identify the wine by its label and provide her with more information about it.

"This is a really cool event to have in Steamboat," she said.

The Stroll of Steamboat was the only event the two were planning on attending, and they said they ran into several other Steamboat residents throughout the evening.

"It's our hood," Liberatore said with a smile.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

Saturday Steamboat Wine Festival schedule

10 a.m. Mud, Sweat & Cheers Mountain Bike Seminar, Gondola Square, $95

11 a.m. Undiscovered Gems Seminar, The Steamboat Grand, $55

Noon Viticulture Paradise: The Wines of Chile, The Steamboat Grand, $55

1 p.m. The Remarkable Wines of Burgundy, The Steamboat Grand, $65

3 p.m. Toast of Steamboat Grand Tasting, Gondola Square, $90

7 p.m. Bubbles + BBQ = BubbleQ, Torian Plum Plaza, $55

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