Every first Saturday in June, the small mountain town of Manitou Springs hosts one of Colorado’s best and most successful outdoor Wine Festivals. And this June 1 is no exception; 35 or more Colorado wineries, including Aspen Creek Cellars, Spero Winery, Two Rivers and Red Fox Cellars, just to name a few, will be pouring tastings of their wines as well as selling glasses and bottles of wine at the Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival. To enhance the experience, many retail booths will be selling wine related wares and several food booths and food trucks will be on sight at Memorial Park.
Founded 17 years ago by the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and the historic Cliff House Inn, the first Festival drew just several hundred people, had fewer than 20 participating wineries and the Waiters Wine Race was the major entertainment. Almost 20 years later, the day boasts a commemorative wine glass, a six-bottle wine tote to the first 1,500 attendees, live entertainment throughout the Festival and unlimited tastings from over 35 Colorado Wineries — all included in General Admission.
“It’s a great introduction to summer,” says Leslie Lewis, executive director of the Chamber. “It’s a beautiful setting — being in the park, able to sample Colorado wine, find great unique gifts and spend time with views of Pikes Peak.”
It’s a beautiful setting — being in the park, able to sample Colorado wine, find great unique gifts and spend time with views of Pikes Peak.
And for those wine lovers who want to experience a bit more of an exclusive afternoon, last year the Festival added VIP Tickets which includes unlimited tasting in both General Admission and VIP areas, as well as chef selected hors d’oeuvres, created by a team led by renowned Manitou Springs chef Lyn Ettinger Harwell.
“The VIP area will be held in the Seven Minute Springs area, across from Memorial Park,” says Jenna Gallas, event coordinator for the Chamber. This year is going to be a bit different as the General Admission will be expanded over there as well and El Paso Blvd, which runs between the two venues, will be closed off to create a wide berth for all attendees to enjoy both spaces.
“However, there will be a separate VIP area. The $80 admission price will include a high-end crystal wine glass and Chef Harwell’s hearty locally-sourced chef-selected hors d’oeuvres.”
This fun fest, with music, food and gift vendors, runs Saturday, June 1, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Manitou Springs Memorial Park, 502 Manitou Ave. Last tickets are sold at 4 p.m. and admission is free for designated drivers. No furry friends allowed. $80 for VIP, $35 General Admission, $30 for military/fire/first responders.
Three Wine Tasting Tips from Andrew Ritchie, winemaker at Mountain Spirit Winery in Salida
- Try and bring a friend, so when tasting the same wine you can compare your favorite tastes and decide if you want to move on to a full glass or just move on.
- Try dry wines before you move to sweeter wines, as it is much easier to determine nuances and depth with drier varieties.
- Eat a snack every 30 minutes to cleanse your palate by sampling crackers or pretzels paired with water. This will allow you to pick up more flavors in the wine and perhaps enjoy a few more tastes.
Photos courtesy of Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival.