Wine lovers and gourmands will have ample opportunities to savor plenty of taste sensations during the Steamboat Wine Festival, which starts Thursday night as part of the Beaux Arts Festival.
If two full days of wine tasting, three nights of wine-maker dinners and a few rounds of Italian lawn bowling aren't enough to get your taste buds rolling, the Steel Chef competition is sure to keep the weekend intriguing for even the most uninspired chefs.
Wine Seminars Friday, Aug. 6 11 a.m. to Noon Sparkling wine seminar Noon to 1 p.m. The many faces of Pinot 1 to 2 p.m. Wine 101 2 to 3 p.m. Artisan cheese seminar 2 to 3 p.m. Tasting the master's way 3 to 4 p.m. California reserve tasting 4 to 7 p.m. Wine on the Mountain Grand Tasting, including the Steel Chef competition, at Thunderhead Saturday Aug. 7 11 a.m. to Noon Spanish wine seminar Noon to 1 p.m. Italian wine seminar 1 to 2 p.m. Sultans of Shiraz 2 to 2:45 p.m. Sonoma vs. Napa 2 to 2:45 p.m. Bordeaux reserve tasting 3 to 6 p.m. Toast of Steamboat, including bocce ball, in Torian Plum Plaza Cost: Tickets for the Wine on the Mountain Grand Tasting ($45) and the Toast of Steamboat ($40) are available at Vino, Paddy Shack, First National Bank of the Rockies and Central Park Liquor. Individual seminar tickets range from $15 to $55 and are available by calling (303) 777-6887 or at the door.
Amid a spread of more than 200 wines to taste, four chefs will go head to head in a Steel Chef competition during the Wine on the Mountain event at the top of the gondola next Friday night. Chris Wyant from The Cabin, David Renfroe from La MontaÃ±a, Jason Salisbury from Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill and Kate VanRensselaer from Cafe Diva will vie for top honors in a battle of culinary creativity similar to the Food Network's popular "Iron Chefs" TV program. The four chefs will be informed of their basic, mandatory mystery ingredients, then they will have 30 minutes to create as many meals as they can.
Past Steel Chef competitions are rumored to have featured such intriguing culinary combinations as buffalo with peanut butter and ostrich with papaya. For seasoning and side dishes, it's B.Y.O. pantry -- the four chefs will bring their own selection of spices, fresh herbs and starches, such as rice and potatoes.
"Anything they give you is going to be hard," contestant Renfroe admitted. "It's always a challenge when someone gives you something off the wall."
If the potential manifestations of buffalo and peanut butter don't tempt the palate, wine festival attendees will have a chance to sample more refined food and wine pairings during wine-maker dinners at local restaurants. Tobiano and L'Apogee are hosting dinners Thursday night, and La MontaÃ±a, Cafe Diva and The Cabin are hosting dinners Aug. 7. The dinners must be booked directly with the restaurants.
Wine festival days are filled with thematic tastings of sparkling wines, varieties of Pinot, Californian wines, Italian wines, Spanish wines, Australian Shiraz, Sonoma versus Napa wines and wines from Bordeaux -- with master sommeliers and other wine experts on hand to guide everyone from the casual consumer to the connoisseur through the process. There is even a seminar to learn about the dos and don'ts of wine and cheese pairing.
"Wine is becoming a very popular pastime for people as well as a hobby, and it's great that Steamboat is trying to embrace that," Pinot seminar presenter Mike Kirlin said.
He said he plans to show people the variety in wine making styles among small wine producers and the differences between areas where Pinot grapes, his favorite varietal, are grown.
"The festival includes a big variety of events and seminars, so there is definitely something there to interest everybody," Kirlin said.
To wear off the effects of all the food and libations, several bocce courts are being set up on the lawn near Torian Plum. Bocce is Italian lawn bowling, and there will be experts on hand to supply the assorted equipment and explain the rules and regulations.
Proceeds from the Steamboat Wine Festival benefit the Steamboat Springs Arts Council for ongoing cultural events such as Beaux Arts. Tickets for the Aug. 6 Grand Tasting with the Steel Chef competition ($45) and the Aug. 7 Toast of Steamboat ($40) are available at Vino, Paddy Shack, First National Bank of the Rockies and Central Park Liquor. Individual seminar tickets range from $15 to $55 and are available at the door or by calling (303) 777-6887.