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Taste of Vail: Ski, sip and savour at Colorado’s premier food & wine festival

One of the top ski destinations in the US transforms into a culinary hotspot each spring, hosting one of the nation's foremost food and wine festivals. Explore why winemakers, chefs, and gastronomy enthusiasts race to the Rockies year after year.

Under the Alpine sun, there’s Taste of Vail – the ultimate spring-break festival for ski lovers, culinary connoisseurs, spa goers and wine enthusiasts.

One of the top food and wine festivals in the US, Taste of Vail has been transforming the cobblestoned streets and mountaintops of Vail for over 30 years, bringing winemakers, chefs and epicures together in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

The four-day festival includes wine seminars, wine dinners and daily signature events, including a Debut of Rosé, Après Tasting on the Streets of Vail, Mountaintop Tasting and Grand Tasting – with some of the nation’s best Spring skiing to be enjoyed in between.

Expect to find familiar names and faces, like Peter Mondavi Jr. sampling Charles Krug or Andy Peay pouring his new West Sonoma Coast AVA releases alongside new wine discoveries by winemakers you’ll soon follow up with for a case.

The culinary talent is well worth a note too, with more than a dozen guest chefs like James Beard – 2024 finalist for Best Chef Southeast, James London of South Carolina’s Chubby Fish or ‘Mexico Best New Chefs 2021’ Mario Malvaez and Annie Yong of MAKAN, joining top Vail chefs to prepare food offerings at each event.

Wine tasting at 10,250 feet

With food and wine festivals aplenty in the US, Taste of Vail can be set apart in just ‘two words’, said Master Sommelier Jesse Becker, US Sales Manager for Veritable Wines & Estates.

‘Mountaintop Tasting! Where else can you taste with winemakers from all over the world at 10,350 feet? This is just one of the many unique settings that set Taste of Vail apart,’ he said.

The pinnacle of outdoor tastings, Taste of Vail attendees can enjoy breath-taking mountain vistas while sampling freshly prepared gourmet food, beer, spirits and of course, wines from almost 60 exhibitors – often poured by the winemaker.

Exhibiting for almost two decades, Ramey Wine Cellars President of Winemaking, Cameron Frey, said, ‘You’ve got to love the energy of such a one-of-a-kind tasting. Whether you are skiing or just taking the gondola up and back, there is always an exciting uncertainty along with a guaranteed adventure that comes with the Mountain top Tasting.’

Vail Village

Off the mountain there’s much more going on in Vail Village. 

Known for its European-inspired architecture and upscale ambiance, with quaint boutiques and gourmet restaurants lining stone-paved streets, the village is home to Taste of Vail’s other signature events.

Après Tasting on the Streets of Vail, one of Taste of Vail’s signature events.

From the Debut of Rosé, featuring over 100 rosé wines from around the world alongside food samples crafted by guest chefs, to a stroll through the streets of Vail for a walk-around tasting, culminating in the Grand Tasting where Vail chefs present their most imaginative dishes while wineries pour their flagship wines, attendees are spoilt for choice.

‘Taste of Vail has an allure like no other wine & food event in the country,’ said Karin Warnelius-Miller, proprietor of Alexander Valley’s Garden Creek Vineyards

As a small producer, we attend only a select few wine & food festivals. We prefer those with intimacy alongside flare and excitement. From the Après Tasting in the streets of Vail to the Mountaintop Tasting, each venue brought more to be had. Taste of Vail proved itself bar none.’

Top tips

Alongside four signature events, the festival hosts intimate wine dinners and almost a dozen seminars, aiming to offer even more for food and wine enthusiasts looking to expand their knowledge.

Taste of Vail held 11 seminars at the 2023 festival covering a wide range of topics from Europe’s island wines to art and wine with Paso Robles producer Epoch.

Warnelius-Miller recommended taking advantage of the smaller venues and dinners: ‘A place you will learn most and be most inspired is one-on-one contact with the chefs and vintners. An exquisite wine is all about the personal story. You are also meeting vintners who you may not know of or have a chance to taste their wines.’

Becker agreed: ‘The seminars and wine dinners add much to the experience and bring winemakers together with wine-loving consumers. This year, we brought Claus Burmeister of Weingut Heitlinger and Weingut Burg Ravensburg from Germany, and guests loved tasting with him while practicing their German.’

Restaurant recommendations

If the festival’s culinary offerings aren’t enough, or a wine dinner sold out (which they do), Vail boasts a plethora of exceptional restaurants. We asked some of the festival’s returning producers for their top picks.

Almresi and Matsuhisa

Recommended by Jesse Becker of Veritable Wines & Estates

If Vail Village has you reminiscing about the Austrian Alps, head to Almresi for a schnitzel and a bottle of 2019 Burg Ravensburg Riesling Husarenkappe GG. 

Japanese cuisine and one of Colorado’s best wine lists more your thing? Matsuhisa Vail keeps a massive cellar of great Burgundy, California, German and Austrian wines, with sommelier Andreas Harl to guide you.  

Sweet Basil

Recommended by Karin Warnelius-Miller of Garden Creek Vineyards

A good friend and fellow vintner said ‘If there is one spot, Sweet Basil is it’.

From the moment we walked in, we were captivated by the legendary history and elegant cuisine. The wine list was outstanding, each stunning plate a gastronomic delicacy and the service excellent with the staff personal and attentive. 

There are many incredible restaurants in Vail and Sweet Basil is one of those you will go back to again and again.

Up the Creek

Recommended by Cameron Frey of Ramey Wine Cellars

My favorite restaurant is Up the Creek, family owned and operated for over 15 years. I would classify it as a legacy restaurant with top quality food, service and great value.

Taste of Vail 2025

With nearly 60 renowned wineries and the nation’s top chefs gathering for four days in picturesque Vail, Colorado, Taste of Vail guarantees an unparalleled experience. 

Taste of Vail is always an event I’ll clear my schedule so that I can attend’, said Frey. ‘Who wouldn’t want to be part of a unique collaboration of people so passionate about great food, amazing wine and of course, fantastic skiing in such a magical and enchanting venue.  I honestly must pinch myself, so I know that I am not just dreaming while at this event.’  

Each signature event, seminar and wine dinner is available for individual purchase, ensuring even those with small stomachs can indulge in a taste of this legendary celebration.

The next festival will take place from 2-5 April 2025, with early bird signature passes available now until May 31st. Visit Taste of Vail’s website for more details on the 2025 schedule from summer 2024.

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