Since 2006, the annual Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits festival has attracted hundreds of drink connoisseurs who come from all over to sip and sample some of the nation’s best wine and spirits, paired with culinary delights from the some of the country’s best chefs, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Colorado’s Gore Mountain Range.
About two hours from the Denver Airport, Beaver Creek is a luxurious winter ski resort that offers just as much appeal during the warmer months. I was a guest of Beaver Creek for the 2010 Wine and Spirits Festival and enjoyed myself so much I hope to return with my husband come 2011. Here are seven reasons why you should consider attending as well.
The wine…and spirits
The first reason is, of course, a no-brainer. The drinks are what this festival is all about and the event offers multiple opportunities to indulge. From the opening night rodeo with custom drinks made by top bartenders, to cocktail and wine seminars, to the grand tasting of over 40 wines, you’ll never go thirsty throughout the weekend. One of my favorite activities was the Friday morning “Walk & Wine.” After an easy two-hour hike (or a more strenuous one – you can choose) that offered near-endless views of the Gore Range, the group convened at the beautiful Grouse Mountain Grill for a lavish four-course lunch spread that included handmade roasted ravioli with braised Colorado lamb, spice-rubbed Colorado steak, and peach and rosewater sherbet with sweet corn madelaines, all served with perfectly paired wine.
Attendees at the festival needed something to go with all that wine and spirits and as the Walk & Wine menu above shows, they were not left hungry. In addition to the BBQ dinner with the Thursday night rodeo, the Friday morning Walk & Wine lunch, and the decadent wine-pairing dinner at the Splendido at the Chateau, there were also several cooking demos (during which food and drink were served, or course) and an informative cooking class that ended with a three-course lunch with…you guessed it, more wine pairings. Throughout the weekend, everything served was beyond delicious and was creatively designed and perfectly prepared. There was nothing I ate that wouldn’t please the most persnickety of palates.
Good food, good wine, gorgeous mountain views – the whole experience of the Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits Festival lends itself to romance. And though the resort is very family friendly, it’s easy to find quiet corners and spots made for spending quality time away from the kids. Most of the hotels in Beaver Creek, including the magnificent Park Hyatt, cater to couples with luxurious spas and special packages.
The family fun
Beaver Creek is perfect for families all year round and in summer it’s especially great for kids who love to play, swim, hike and bike. From June to September, the Summer Adventure Center offers daily scheduled (and private by appointment) hikes and bike tours for hikers of all ages and fitness levels. Many of the hikes are free and all include use of gear like hiking boots and poles. Many of the hotels have pools and there’s a mini golf course and kids play area at the base of the mountain and a summer ice-skating rink in the center of the village. Beaver Creek also offers a summer kids camp.
The outdoor adventure
Beaver Creek is set in some of the most beautiful mountains of Colorado, and there’s no better way to work off all those food and drink calories than by experiencing all the outdoor activities on offer here. In addition to hikes that you can do on your own or with a guide, you can also rent bikes, go horseback riding, or try white-water rafting or an ATV tour. For less strenuous adventure, you can take the Spruce Saddle chairlift up to the top of the mountain and then hike or ride your rental mountain bike back to ground level.
Beaver Creek is known as a winter destination for its luxurious accommodation and decadent dining close to excellent ski runs. The same is true in the summer, but what many people don’t know is that all out luxury isn’t your only option – there are plenty of affordable places to eat and drink in style on a smaller budget in Beaver Creek. Tickets for the Wine and Spirits Festival events are sold individually so you can spend as much, or as little, on events as you wish. And prices for flights to and accommodations in Beaver Creek are lower during summer than during peak ski seasons, so it’s easy to experience the luxury of Beaver Creek on a more affordable level.
Beaver Creek is only two hours by car from Denver so it’s easy to combine a weekend in Beaver Creek with a day or two exploring Denver. You can also fly into nearby Vail’s Eagle Airport. Neighboring Vail offers many of the attractions you’ll find at Beaver Creek – great hiking trails, outdoor adventure, and excellent dining and nightlife. In 2010, the Vail Soul Music Fest was held at the same time as the Wine and Spirits Festival; the weekly Vail Farmer’s Market would also be enough to lure visiting foodies from Beaver Creek to Vail for an afternoon.
Tickets for events held as part of the Wine and Spirits Festival range from $25-$125 per adult.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Beaver Creek, but my opinions are my own.