30th Annual Taos Winter Wine Festival
By M. Elwell Romancito
Color, aroma, complexity and character. These are the terms wine aficionados are familiar with, no doubt, but when you combine the nuances of wine with the all-out adventure of skiing at Taos Ski Valley, you’ve got a winner of an event to advance upon the New Year.
The Taos Winter Wine Festival is a multi-day celebration of food and wine with participating local restaurants and more than 40 national wineries.
The event is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 1 through Sunday, Feb. 5. That means four days to enjoy one of the best ski areas in the region and double down on the sensory paradise that is a wine tasting.
All the oenophiles out there know what wine festivals and certainly wine tasting is about. If you are unfamiliar, but are feeling adventurous, a wine festival is exactly the experience both newcomer and expert will enjoy — the sensory examination and evaluation of wine.
As ancient as the production of wine is, of course, wine evaluation has developed formal ways to measure how a particular vintage shapes up. Modern, professional wine tasters (such as sommeliers or buyers for retailers) use a specialized terminology to describe the range of perceived flavors, aromas and general characteristics of a wine.
More informal, recreational tastings may use similar terminology and usually involve a much less analytical process for a more general, personal appreciation.
A perfect pairing of wine and food elevates the experience to peak levels. Imagine how the pairing of excellent skiing and the Taos Winter Wine Festival makes for a savory experience not-to-be-missed.
This year’s Taos Winter Wine Festival Reserve Tasting at El Monte Sagrado Resort Center in the town of Taos is planned for Thursday, Feb. 2, in the afternoon and early evening. In addition, El Monte Sagrado Resort will be the venue for the Thursday and Friday (Feb. 2-3) afternoon wine seminars. Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman will attend the event to moderate all the wine seminars.
Spellman is Winery Sommelier for Justin Vineyards and Winery. He has worked with wine since 1979, principally as a sommelier, in Chicago’s top restaurant cellars including Tango, Maxim’s, The Pump Room, The Park Hyatt Hotel and Charlie Trotter’s. He has also had stints in wine retail, wholesale and importing companies, as well as with Napa Valley producer Joseph Phelps. He has been a leading wine educator, writer and consultant, and has headlined wine seminars in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia.
The cornerstone of the Taos Winter Wine Festival remains the Grand Tasting on Saturday (Feb. 4) afternoon at the base of chairlift No. 1 at Taos Ski Valley. Also that Saturday at Taos Ski Valley are two afternoon wine seminars to choose from prior to the Grand Tasting.
Both the Reserve Tasting on Friday (Feb. 3) in the town of Taos and the Grand Tasting Saturday (Feb. 4) at Taos Ski Valley will feature 36 world-class wineries pouring their best wines alongside 12 great Taos and Taos Ski Valley restaurants serving samples of their food.
Some of our favorite winemakers are returning this year including Josh Jensen of Calera Wine Co., Mike Etzel Jr of Beaux Freres, Jake Bilbro from Marietta, Martine Saunier of Martine’s Wines and Bill and Dawnine Dyer of Dyer Vineyards. There are many more as well.
Nightly wine dinners at dozens of Taos and Taos Ski Valley restaurants will feature vintners up close and personal pouring their wines. The event concludes Sunday (Feb. 5) with a champagne brunch at El Monte Sagrado in town.
If you’re adventurous enough to explore Taos and Taos Ski Valley, the Taos Winter Wine Festival is one more feather in your cap (or cork for your collection, if you’re already an oenophile).
Tickets and schedule: taoswinterwinefest.com