Sometimes the benefit of fine wine goes beyond the palate. For 27 years, a dedicated group of Colorado Springs volunteers has been putting together a weekend's worth of events to please even the most discriminating wine lover, with the proceeds benefiting the nonprofit Colorado Springs Conservatory - the only performing arts conservatory in the Pikes Peak region.
The 27th annual Wine Festival of Colorado Springs, Thursday through Saturday, gives all its proceeds to the Conservatory.
"They do so much. They do such a wonderful job with the children of this community, and they need scholarship money for the kids who can't afford. They're so appreciative to have an event like this," said event co-chair Elizabeth Youngquist.
The very first wine "festival" was a simple wine tasting held at the Colorado Springs School for 40 people. By contrast, this year's Grand Tasting, at 7 p.m. Friday in Broadmoor Hall, is open to 700 to 1,000 guests. It will feature tastings of more than 300 wines, food from area restaurants and caterers, a performance by the Conservatory, a silent auction, DJ and dancing. Tickets are still available.
"Every year we have a different theme and bring in six winemakers," Youngquist said. "This year the distributors are all from southern France."
Food from about 25 restaurants and caterers plus drinks from 55 wine, beer and distillery purveyors will supply the event.
Those who attend are in for a treat, said co-chair Jim Little, who co-owns Coaltrain Fine Wine, Craft Beer and Spirits.
"The focus of the weekend is on the wines of southern France, known for great wines from the regions of Provence, Rhone Valley, Langueduoc and Roussillon. But the Grand Tasting is really about wines from around the world," Little said.
The Broadmoor is offering special room rates so people can stay over, Youngquist said.
Saturday's $200-a-plate gourmet dinner and live auction at Garden of the Gods Club has sold out, as have some of the festival's wine seminars.
Still available are: "Rosé All Day? How About All YEAR!" 5:30 p.m. Thursday at The Warehouse, 25 W. Cimarron St., $60; and "Tasting the Master's Way," 5:30 p.m. Friday at Broadmoor Hall, $50. Seminars are limited to 60 people. Visit goo.gl/pmMMVr or call 577-4556 for information or to register.
"The master's seminar is really one of the best seminars we've ever put on," Little said. "Tim Gaiser, master sommelier, is flying in from Rio Rancho, N.M. He's one of the original master sommeliers. He has developed this program on how to taste wine the master's way, how to blind taste test. It's a great region to feature fantastic wines at a very reasonable price point."
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, 476-1602, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM