David Phillips, with Michael David Winery, introduces the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc during the Steamboat Wine Festival’s Mud, Sweat and Cheers mountain bike seminar.

Photo by Matt Stensland

David Phillips, with Michael David Winery, introduces the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc during the Steamboat Wine Festival’s Mud, Sweat and Cheers mountain bike seminar.

Mud, Sweat and Cheers fuses wine, outdoor passions in Steamboat

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Helene Wiese, of Golden, rides the Tenderfoot downhill bike trail at Steamboat Ski Area on Saturday during a wine and biking seminar as a part of the Steamboat Wine Festival.

— From their home in Golden, Donn and Helene Wiese can ride their mountain bikes up Table Mountain and cap their afternoon off with a glass of wine from their wine collection.

But on Saturday at the Steamboat Wine Festival, the couple took their two passions to new heights.

At the Mud, Sweat and Cheers tasting seminar, the Wieses were among about 15 cyclists of all abilities charged with taking on the trails of Mount Werner. The two-hour ride was followed by lunch at Truffle Pig, where winemakers — and cycling enthusiasts — from three Lodi, California, wineries offered wine pairings and answered questions about their creations.

“I loved it,” said Helene Wiese, basking in the noon sun on Truffle Pig’s outdoor deck after the ride. “It was so cool. We’ve never done this — to go out on a mountain like that.

“And the scenery, holy cow. We’ve never been to Steamboat in the summer before.”

“It was a totally new experience,” Donn Wiese said.

The Steamboat Wine Festival drew thousands to Steamboat this weekend and closed with a sunny afternoon in Gondola Square on Saturday for the Toast of Steamboat tasting and the BubbleQ in Torian Plum Plaza.

Several wine festival participants got an early start Saturday with the Let’s Get Outside wine seminar and hike, which also was on Mount Werner at the same time as the mountain bike ride.

With a Steamboat Springs Running Series race going on as well, the ski area was a hub of activity as the bright sun rose high into the sky.

At the top of the gondola, the three winemakers from the Central Valley region known for its Zinfandels introduced themselves. They wore cycling jerseys, emblazoned with the winery logo.

“You’re going to earn your wine today,” Joe Lange, of LangeTwins Winery and Vineyards, told the crowd as they adjusted their seats and shed layers. “You’ve got to work hard. I want everyone to come to lunch … a little sweaty, a little dirty.”

The riders split into groups led by local bike manufacturer Kent Erikson, his wife, Katie Lindquist, and cyclist Rishi Grewal. One group wanted a more cross-country ride, so they headed up.

An intermediate group got a brief warmup to the Rendezvous saddle followed by an introduction to downhill with Lindquist.

New Yorkers Kate Schweitzer and Matt Fitzgerald decided to give themselves a challenge and head down with the advanced downhill group.

“I was very terrified at the beginning,” Schweitzer said. “But we went at our own pace, and it was really fun.”

“There’s a lot of indoor stuff,” Fitzgerald said about the wine festival. “And we didn’t come out to Steamboat to do indoor stuff.”

At Truffle Pig, the first wine was a Michael David Winery Sauvignon Blanc, an un-oaked, perfectly crisp wine for a warm and windy day.

“I definitely recommend wine after mountain biking,” Lange said. “And it’s just great to get out on a bike and talk to people in a setting that’s not a booth setting.”

Mike McCay, of the small Lodi winery McCay Cellars, brought his rose wine to pair with the appetizer. He said it was his first Steamboat Wine Festival.

“It’s work,” McCay said. “But it’s fun too. I’m coming back to (the Steamboat Wine Festival) next year for sure; it’s a slam dunk, just because of the way I’ve been treated here.”

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

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