Wine Festival brings top sips, ‘Top Chef’ |

Wine Festival brings top sips, ‘Top Chef’

4-day culinary event features TV show winner, seminars, tastings

Margaret Hair

Festival tickets

Tickets for all Wine Festival at Steamboat events, Thursday through Sunday, are available at http://www.steamboatwine.... Tickets for the Stroll of Steamboat and the Toast of Steamboat also are available at Central Park Liquor; a local's pass for both events is $100. For more information, call 879-3428.

The festival is looking for volunteers to work during the Saturday Grand Tasting. Volunteers receive a T-shirt and a ticket to Friday's Stroll of Steamboat. For more information, contact Luanne Morris at or 877-328-2783.

6th annual Wine Festival at Steamboat schedule

- Wine on the Mountain Kickoff Celebration, 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the top of the gondola: Sample wines, spirits and heavy appetizers; $125

- Single Track Single Vineyard, 10 a.m. Friday at the gondola: Take a bike ride with mountain biking, cooking and wine industry professionals, then have lunch from Cafe Diva; $95

- Zin City seminar, 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel: Learn about the layers of wines made from Zinfandel grapes; $45

- Veneto: An International Love Story seminar, 12:30 to 1:20 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Grand: Taste a family of Italian wines in a presentation by Barb Wedig; $50

- Top Tips from the "Top Chef," 1 p.m. Friday at Torian Plum Plaza: Hosea Rosenberg - winner of Bravo's fifth season of "Top Chef," a competitive cooking show - gives an interactive cooking demonstration; $55

- The Aroma Wheel of Fortune, 1:30 to 2:20 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Grand: Trinchero Family Estates gives tips on characterizing wines by aroma; $35

- "The Rocky Horror Riesling Show" seminar, 2:30 to 3:20 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Grand: Brian Harlan gives a comprehensive tasting of Riesling wines; $35

- Stroll of Steamboat Grand Tasting, 4 to 7 p.m. Friday in downtown Steamboat: Sample wines and appetizers at local restaurants, galleries and retailers; $55

- "Off the Hook" fly fishing with a winemaker, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, meeting at Steamboat Flyfisher: Fish the Yampa River with Ironstone Vineyards winemaker Stephen Kautz in an event that includes breakfast, lunch and wine; $400

- Tasting Tre Bicchieri Winners seminar, 11 to 11:50 a.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Grand: Sample award-winning wines with master sommelier Brett Zimmermann; $75

- Sipping in Spain seminar, noon to 12:50 p.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Grand: Master sommelier Ira Harmon presents a sampling of Spanish wines; $65

- Generations - The Changing Face of Australian Wine seminar, 1 to 1:50 p.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Grand: Chris Rowe presents the stories and product of three Australian wineries; $55

- Tasting the Master's Way, 2 to 2:50 p.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Grand: Ira Harmon give tips on tasting like a pro; $45

- Toast of Steamboat Grand Tasting, 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Torian Plum Plaza: Sample food from local restaurants, taste hundreds of wines and watch top chefs square off at the festival's main event; $65

- Rooftop on the Rio, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant: Sample cocktails and appetizers on the Rio patio; call the restaurant at 871-6277 for pricing and reservations.

Tasting tips

Tips for a first-time wine festival attendee, provided by Wine Festival presenters TeamSage Productions:

- Make a game plan. Look at the tasting guide and find your favorites or see what looks interesting. Accept that you can't possibly try everything. You might want to decide to divide and conquer within your group of friends.

- Eat a big meal before hand - you'll stay sober longer.

- Consider a designated driver, cab service or hotel room. Make sure you have a safe ride home; they're just tastings, but they do add up.

- Dress comfortably; there is no need for high heels. You will be walking a lot, standing even more, and jostling in and out of a lot of people.

- Wear dark colors. Even if you manage to avoid spilling red wine on yourself, someone else might careen into you.

- Spit. It is a tasting, so if you want to be able to taste more you'll have to spit more.

- Hydrate; wine doesn't count. Water is available at all of the events.

- Don't try to take detailed tasting notes; just note the wines you like and would like to have again.

— The day Gail Wiltshire heard Boulder fish chef Hosea Rosenberg had been chosen to compete on the Bravo TV cooking competition “Top Chef,” the TeamSage Productions employee and sixth annual Wine Festival at Steamboat organizer called Rosenberg’s restaurant.

She made a dinner reservation and drove from Denver to have a meal and pitch the Steamboat food and wine festival to Rosenberg. He signed on as a signature chef and later won the fifth season of “Top Chef.”

“Of course we were rooting for him all along, but once he won, the demand was great,” Wiltshire said. Rosenberg is part of a top-notch group of chefs who will display their cooking skills at the Toast of Steamboat Grand Tasting at Torian Plum Plaza on Saturday.

He’ll join more than 800 wines, almost 50 vineyards and wineries and about a dozen local restaurants on the roster for this year’s Wine Festival at Steamboat. The four-day event starts with a kickoff celebration and silent auction Thursday evening, officially wraps with Saturday’s Toast of Steamboat and stretches into Sunday with a rooftop event at Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant.

In its sixth year in Steamboat, the festival includes focused seminars for culinary connoisseurs along with offerings for anyone looking to taste a few new wines, TeamSage owner Doug Larson said.

“It’s something for everyone, is kind of what we always say, if you’re a real oenophile, and you want to sample all the wines : we’ve got those seminar components for the person that’s really, really about food and wine,” Larson said.

The festival usually draws about 3,000 people, Larson said. Events that don’t sell out in advance tend to fill up within the first 15 to 30 minutes, he said.

For the casual wine enthusiast, Larson recommends Friday’s Stroll of Steamboat Grand Tasting. The event – pushed back an hour this year to run from 4 to 7 p.m. – starts on the Routt County Courthouse lawn and takes participants on a tour of local restaurants, galleries and retailers to sample appetizers and wine.

Saturday’s Toast of Steamboat is similarly casual, with a focus on food that includes several cooking demonstrations. Tickets to either event are $55 and are available online or at Central Park Liquor. A local’s pass to both events is $100 at Central Park.

New to the festival this year are fly-fishing and mountain biking outings with wine experts, chefs and sportsmen; organizers hope the additions will get festival-goers out on the town and its surrounding areas, Wiltshire said.

Stella Artois, a Belgian beer brand, has joined the festival this year as a sponsor and will offer its three main beers at events, Wiltshire said.

For the second consecutive year, Steamboat S.T.A.R.S. – Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports – will receive proceeds from the festival. Five percent of all ticket sales and the proceeds from two silent auctions will help the nonprofit organization offer recreational opportunities for people with disabilities.

“All that money goes toward our organization and providing scholarships for those who can’t afford adaptive ski lessons – both local and visiting – and equipment, as well as just general operating costs,” said Jim Schneider, president of S.T.A.R.S. and vice president of skier services for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

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