Snowmass Wine Festival back in action
Grand Tasting brings dozens of vintners, restaurants to Town Park
The Snowmass Wine Festival kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with a cocktail party at The Collective in Base Village; tickets are $120 for that event.
The Grand Tasting returns from 1:30-5 p.m. Saturday in Town Park; tickets are $105 online and $115 at the door.
Participants must be 21 or older to taste wines; proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test obtained within 72 hours of the event is required for entry. Visit snowmasswinefestival.com for more information.
The Snowmass Wine Festival returns Saturday afternoon with 36 vintners, six spirit distilleries and nearly 20 different food stations in Town Park, according to organizer Martha O’Keefe, a member of the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village.
After a one-year pandemic hiatus, the Saturday grand tasting and a Friday evening kickoff event are back in action as a key fundraiser for the Snowmass Rotary’s financial contributions to the community. (The event was reimagined last year as a golf outing to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.)
And boy oh boy, does it feel good to be back, organizers said.
“Oh my goodness, how many emotions can we put in 24 hours?” said Stacey Kelly, one of the Snowmass Rotarians helming this year’s event. “We are ecstatic that we can come back as a community and put together a lot of good people together with some good food and good wine for very good reasons.”
Those “very good reasons” include scholarships for local high school students, grants for area nonprofits and other charitable giving; the festival generates tens of thousands of dollars each year for that support, according to the Snowmass Rotary Community Grants Chair Sherri Goodwin.
The club just distributed $45,000 in funds from last year’s golf event to 22 organizations at a breakfast Sept. 8. That’s on par with the amount distributed following a typical wine festival year; the money comes from sponsorships as well as other fundraising components of the event.
“The community has just overwhelmingly supported our organization and what we do, and all of those funds coming from sponsorships are turned around, as well as those who attended the golf outing, are turned around and put back into these grants, so we’re very appreciative of how the community steps up as well,” Goodwin said.
Gratitude is a recurring theme among organizers involved in the event that generates so much support for the club’s work in the community.
“That’s a pretty big chunk of money that comes from this one fundraiser for us, so we are so thankful for all of the sponsors and the volunteers, and the people who attend and the restaurateurs — I mean, there’s so many parts of this, that need to work in symbiosis in order to make it all happen, and we’ve been doing it,” Kelly said.
Speaking of all those parts working in symbiosis: This year’s festival will look and feel mostly familiar to those who have attended in the past, according to O’Keefe.
Ticket sales have been “pretty comparable” to 2019, O’Keefe said; organizers are expecting about 1,000 people to turn up at the grand tasting, including the vintners. And while local restaurants facing staffing issues added some challenges with the lineup, the festival itself has its bases well covered for staffing and volunteers, she said.
The Friday night kickoff has been remixed this year with a cocktail party with appetizers and dessert at The Collective in Base Village rather than the usual dinner at the Viceroy; the event setup allows for an indoor-outdoor hybrid with a bit more flexibility for distancing.
There also will be a couple of extra tents at the grand tasting to help spread out crowds and attendees and a requirement for attendees to verify their vaccination or negative COVID-19 test status, but the festival that O’Keefe said is part of “one of everyone’s favorite events” will otherwise be business as usual.
The club went “gung ho” on planning the festival this summer, especially with two other large outdoor festivals — the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience in Snowmass Village and the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen — also on the books, according to Kelly. (Both of those events have already wrapped; like the Snowmass Wine Festival, they required COVID status verification.)
“I think that’s something else that we are thankful for throughout all of this COVID, is that we’ve learned how to change, and we’ve learned what is still a possibility,” Kelly said.
In addition to a vaccination card or proof of a negative COVID test (and some sunscreen for the outdoor event), Kelly suggests that folks keep an open mind and some patience in their back pocket as everyone adapts.
“This past 18 months has shown us all that we need to be patient, and so we are going to make this happen, we are going to have a fantastic day in the sun, but we’re just going to need everybody’s patience and willingness to work together to make that happen,” Kelly said.
The Aspen Ambulance District seeks a property-tax increase to keep up its level of service, and the Pitkin County commissioners showed initial willingness this week to put the question on the Nov. 8 ballot.
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