First Press Vol. 25 No. 10

On the Scene at the 40th Annual Telluride Wine Festival September 23-26


Stunning mountain scenery, sunshine, and fine wine and food – what more could one ask for in a perfect long weekend getaway in Colorado? That’s exactly what the 40th Annual Telluride Wine Festival served up September 23-26, 2021. The former mining village, now a world-class ski destination, buzzed with more than one thousand locals and visitors who came to eat, drink and explore.

Santé Magazine was on hand as a media sponsor for the Telluride Wine Festival. Usually held in late June, Festival organizers moved the dates to September this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The dates coincided with the Telluride Autumn Classic and Cars & Colors, a display of exotic and classic cars which lined the streets in town.

Sommelier Chris Sawyer led seminars with exceptional wines
Photo: Melanie Young

The three-day weekend event included a series of wine seminars led by California wine industry professional, Chris Sawyer, a.k.a. “Sommelier to the Stars,” as well as two walk-around tastings featuring wines, spirits, and food producers, and wine and cooking accessories. Some of the notable producers included Acumen Wines, Rodney Strong, The Calling, Mt. Brave, Chappellet and Chateau Potelle (all Napa Valley), Crescere Wines (Sonoma), The Lineage Collection (Livermore Valley), Kaena Wines, Foxen Vineyard & Winery, and Lumen Wines (St. Ynez Valley) and, Champagne Laurent- Perrier and Fleurs de Prairie rosé, both French. Spirits were well-represented thanks to Gray Whale Gin, Redemption Whiskey, Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon, and Storm King Distilling (made in Colorado).

California’s Gray Whale Gin donates a percentage of its profits to Oceana, an environmental nonprofit
Photo: David Ransom

A highlight was an exclusive VIP dinner with sixth-generation California winemaker, Steven Kent Mirassou, who presented his exceptional Bordeaux blend wines from The Lineage Collection paired with a menu created by the culinary team at Sidework Speakeasy, a popular dining spot owned by local chef and restaurateur Josh Klein (also the owner of La Marmotte and Smuggler’s Brewpub).

Colorado-made wines, food, and lifestyle brands were well-represented and worth checking out: Splish Naturals producers of spa-quality blends, balms, concentrates, and oils conceived by wellness and spa pro, Matt Walsh. Hot Box Mix, a cannabis-infused brownie mix, was created by Telluride locals, Steffi Jacobson and Toni Nash. Buckel Winery, Storm Cellar, and Sutcliffe Winery represent the small but impressive group of wine producers in Colorado which has two Key AVAs (American Viticultural Areas): Grand Valley AVA, and West Elks AVA

Eric Dyer, Splish Naturals
Photo: Melanie Young

The weekend concluded with an alfresco Sunday brunch at the Mountain Lodge with plenty of Laurent-Perrier Champagne and many of the featured wines and spirits for the weekend. Located in nearby Mountain Village, getting there was half the fun. We took two gondola rides with sweeping views of the mountains and a golden burst of early autumn foliage among the aspen trees.

Next year’s festival is scheduled for June 23-26, 2022. Info:

Downtown Telluride, is a historic mining village surrounded by the San Juan Mountains
Photo: Melanie Young

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An engaging speaker and writer, Melanie Young hosts the weekly national radio shows, The Connected Table Live, featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits and hospitality (a Feedspot Top 10 Food & Drink Podcasts for 2021), and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for and about women (both on iHeart and more than 30 other podcast platforms). Young has contributed articles on wine, spirits, food, and culinary travel to Wine Enthusiast, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine4Food and Jewish Week. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Wine Media Guild, and Women of the Vine & Spirits. Young’s former marketing and events agency, M Young Communications, worked with global wine, food organizations, publishing companies and nonprofits. She had an integral role in the creation, launch and management of The James Beard Foundation Awards, New York Restaurant Week, and Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund (2001) which raised funds to provide for the families of restaurant workers killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Instagram @theconnectedtable

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