Sunny Days And Stellar Wines at the Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival

Even with hiking shoes on, I was pleased to see that the four-mile hike was a downward slope. High in the mountains of Beaver Creek, Vail’s sparkly snow-driven sister, I was happy to find that the town’s tagline – Not exactly roughing it – equated into a Walk & Wine that was just my speed. Along with my “hiking” buddies, I leisurely made my way down to the Grouse Mountain Grill for my first event of the weekend’s Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival sponsored by Bon Appetit. After being rained out the evening before at the Beaver Creek Rodeo Guest Chef BBQ, I was happy for a bit of sunshine and fantastic food and wine to start my weekend.

For the Walk & Wine event, Grouse Mountain’s Chef David Gutowski prepared an amazing lunch to welcome us post-hike, with award-winning wines chosen by our host, wine master Anthony Dias Blue. Dishes included a heavenly chanterelle mushroom ravioli with braised lamb and a spectacular New York strip. Dessert featured our first taste of palisade peaches, a popular ingredient in the Vail area during late summer. A meal so enjoyable, it nearly left me wishing I had broken some kind of sweat during the hike.

I also had the chance to attend a Wine Spectator seminar during the weekend as well. Presented by Beaver Creek Chophouse’s Jay McCarthy, the chef offered up his suggestions for pairing Merlot wines with the perfect steak. Washington’s Chateau St. Michelle was the wine pick of the day.

My last event took place at the resort’s wonderful Splendido restaurant, featuring a cooking demo from Dallas chef Stephan Pyles. Pyles introduced the small crowd to various chiles and the art of tamale making during his in-kitchen demo, with a wonderful lunch menu of red snapper tamales, coriander-cured lamb, and a decadent chocolate samosa with pistachio, rose, and gum mastic ice cream. Wines chosen for the afternoon came from the De Tierra Vineyard in California.

Though I didn’t get a chance to hit all of the scheduled events, I was certainly happy to catch a few of the highlights of the wine & spirits festival, thanks to the fine folks at Vail Resorts and Beaver Creek. We departed for Vail proper shortly thereafter, where I had the opportunity to dine at the absolutely marvelous, seasonally-driven Restaurant Kelly Liken. Once the dinner rush became a dull roar, I had a chance to chat with chef Liken herself, now currently appearing as a cheftestant on Bravo’s Top Chef, so stay tuned for my exclusive Q&A in mid-September.

Finally – a big congratulations goes out to the Top Chef crew today! The show took home last night’s Emmy for Best Reality-Competition, beating out longtime winner, The Amazing Race. A high five to chef Jamie Oliver as well, whose Food Revolution won for Best Reality Program.

~Jennifer Heigl

**Many thanks to the folks at Vail Resorts and Peeples Ink for hosting me for the weekend. What a way to see Vail/BC!

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