Luxury cars, hot air ballons, wine – a busy weekend in Snowmass Village |

Luxury cars, hot air ballons, wine – a busy weekend in Snowmass Village

The Finest is a luxury car auction house that started this year, with the goal of hosting eight automobile auctions – four online and four live – annually.
The Finest/Courtesy photo |

Snowmass Tourism groups and events manager Dave Elkan said he often jokes that on any given day, he does not know whether his job will require him to move a porta-potty station or park Ferraris.

As folks in Snowmass gear up for one of the village’s busiest weekends of the year, Elkan found himself doing both Sept. 12: handling portable toilets and the finest of luxury cars within a mere few hours of each other.

Sept. 16 marks the start of two longstanding Snowmass traditions: the wine festival and the balloon festival.

But that isn’t all that Snowmass Tourism officials were preparing for the weekend.

“This weekend offers something for just about everyone.”Rose AbelloDirector, Snowmass Tourism

New to Snowmass’ annual wine and balloon festival weekend is an automobile auction in which more than 60 luxury convertibles will be on display and available for bidding.

“This weekend offers something for just about everyone,” said Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello. “The Wine Festival is a great fundraiser that especially appeals to locals. The Balloon Festival is a staple of our September calendar that appeals to loyalists as well as first-timers.”

Now, the automobile auction, which is organized by a group called The Finest, will introduce “major car collectors to our valley as well as these incredible cars to our local population,” she said.

Because what goes better with balloons and wine than fine sports cars?


The Finest is a luxury-car auction house that Managing Director Scott Levinsohn and Chief Executive Officer Bradley Farrell started this year with the goal of hosting eight automobile auctions — four online and four live — annually.

The company held its inaugural online auction in early April and hosted its first live auction in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in mid-June.

The goal of The Finest’s live auctions is to create a collection of cars that best fits the environment where the event will take place, Levinsohn said.

For instance, in Hershey, this meant meeting the needs of an older demographic with a strong interest in pre-war vehicles, he said.

To best cater to the audience that The Finest anticipates at the Snowmass auction, Levinsohn said that the focus of the collection is on convertibles, most of which are European-made and also vintage.

“There are very few new cars at this auction,” he said. “If they are (new), they’re limited-edition or something special.”

The Finest’s debut live auction in Pennsylvania was “a big success,” Levinsohn said, adding that 62 percent of the cars featured were sold.

The collection of Ferraris, Mercedes, BMWs and more — worth a total estimated $9 million — will be showcased for public viewing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 16 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 17.

The live auction will take place Sept. 17 starting at 3 p.m. and is expected to last until 7 or 8 p.m., Levinsohn said.

To participate in the auction, one must register to bid and pay the $100 fee.

General admission to the car preview is $10 per person and free for children 12 and younger.


The Snowmass Wine Festival also kicks off Sept. 16, beginning with a wine dinner prepared by Viceroy Snowmass executive chef Will Nolan.

With mouthwatering selections that include arancini stuffed with fresh mozzarella and herbs, pasta ala norma with grilled shrimp and an almond chocolate tartlet, it’s no surprise that tickets to the event were nearly sold out earlier this week, said Martha O’Keefe, president of the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village.

The Rotary Club hosts the wine festival each year and donates 100 percent of the event proceeds to local nonprofit organizations, said O’Keefe, who also serves as a festival board member.

The $82,000 that the club raised through the wine festival in 2015 helped fund vocational programs, public schools, service projects and other local organizations, she said.

On Sept. 17, the Snowmass Wine Festival will host the annual grand tasting from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

Thirty-six vintner tables and nearly 30 booths featuring 19 restaurants and six distilleries are expected to take over the grand tasting at Town Park.

“The wineries love this event because it’s more intimate,” O’Keefe said. “They get to know the people and are able to talk to them and spend time with them. It’s really a special event.”

Admission to the grand tasting event is $85 per ticket through Sept. 16 and $95 if purchased the day of the event.

Tickets to attend the Sept. 16 wine dinner, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and will take place in the Base Village conference center, are $135 per person.


To add to the weekend’s bustling agenda, the Snowmass Balloon Festival takes flight Sept. 16, beginning with the Carter Memorial Colorado Rat Race at 7 a.m.

The race is a long-standing event, Elkan said, whereby 25 of the festival’s most experienced pilots race to determine who can reach the farthest possible distance in three hours.

On the mornings of Sept. 17 and 18, all 35 brightly colored balloons will launch in two heats, painting a picturesque image across Snowmass’ sky.

With its 41-year history, the balloon festival is a time-honored tradition for the town of Snowmass Village, Abello said.

In recent years, Snowmass Tourism added a “glow show” to the festival, which consists of a nighttime jazz-band show that is choreographed to the movement of glowing balloons.

“It’s hard to explain because it’s so unique; you almost have to see it to understand what it is,” Elkan said. “The color and the majesty of seeing these things as they inflate at night is fantastic. It’s so cool to experience.”

The balloon festival glow show will take place at 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 17 in Snowmass Village.

For more information on the Snowmass Wine Festival, the Snowmass Balloon Festival or The Finest automobile auction, visit

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