Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk | AspenTimes.com

Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk

Kelly J. HayesAspen Times Weekly,Aspen, CO Colorado

Every year the summer begins with the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen. While it is a great event that consumes the town, there are those who decry both its size and lack of community involvement.For those of you who want a smaller, less structured, more community-oriented food and wine event, the upcoming weekend is tailor-made for you. The Snowmass Wine Festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 12, with a winemakers dinner at the Artisan Restaurant. It continues Saturday at noon with a champagne tasting, and then at 12:30 the Snowmass Village Mall is transformed into a wine lovers dream destination as more than 250 different wines are poured.This is the sixth annual Snowmass Wine Festival and the one thing that attendees always say is that its a bargain. Tickets for the Saturday wine tasting are $50 and can be purchased by calling 923-4036. The winemakers dinner costs $125 per guest and is always a huge hit, so call early to reserve. Both the reservations for dinner and tickets for the tasting can also be purchased by calling Sundance Liquor and Gifts at 923-5890.The wines are great, the weather better and there is always terrific food. This year Aspen legend Bobby Mason will make his way over the hill from Paonia to lay down some sounds with his band. The Snowmass Wine Festival is a production of the Snowmass Rotary Club and serves as their annual fund-raising event. Proceeds go to childrens charities throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.The dinner at The Artisan Restaurant on Friday night features the food of Chef David Von Holten and the fine wines of Australias Penfolds. Penfolds was founded in 1844 in South Australia and they have been making a variety of great wines for more than 160 years. The Penfolds Grange, a blend of shiraz with a touch of cabernet, may be the most famous and prized Australian wine among collectors. They make a number of other great wines, of course, and on Friday guests will get to taste a Bin 51 Riesling, a Thomas Hyland Chardonnay, a Bin 28 Shiraz, and a Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon. The dinner will finish with a Penfolds Tawny Port. Ron Lincoln, Penfolds National Sales Manager, will be on hand to answer questions and, no doubt, regale the guests with stories of the Aussie heartland.Von Holten, who prides himself on sourcing local products to prepare his global cuisine, will pull out all the stops, pairing a spicy Sriracha slider with the Riesling and a tenderloin medallion with matchstick pommes frites and truffle butter with the Bin 28 Shiraz. There will be other surprises guaranteed.Saturday morning there will be an opportunity to tour the new Base Village, beginning at 10 a.m., but youll want to be back on the Snowmass Mall by noon for the champagne tasting hosted by Barbara Bakios-Wickes of Sundance Liquor and Gifts. Barbara is the person most responsible for working with the vintners and the distributors each year to get the wines for the event. Her champagne tasting will feature a variety of wines, including prosecco from the Veneto region of Italy and Moscato dAsti from the Piedmont region, as well as sparklers from California and, of course, France. It will be a great way to get a taste of the different sparkling wines from around the world. At 12:30 the Snowmass mall will open for business with 33 tables and 16 different food stations. Wines for Silver Oak and Sonoma Cutrer, both California standouts not usually found in festivals, will be poured, but that is just the beginning. Aspens own Betts & Scholl will pour their wines produced in many of the worlds greatest wine regions. And for those of you who know Bobby Stuckey from his days at The Little Nell, youll want to sample one of the marvelous white wines he makes under his Scarpetta label in the Friuli region of Italy.Barbara has also put together a table of small Oregon wineries that she became familiar with this year when she attended the famed Oregon pinot noir gathering. And there will be an opportunity to taste Doug Margerums wines from Santa Barbara.A great dinner. Fine sparklers. Bobby Mason. As they say on KSNO, it is live and local. Get your tickets now.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at malibukj@wineink.com.

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