18 Colorado wineries will participate

The sixth annual Salida WineFest gets underway in Riverside Park this weekend with 18 Colorado wineries – more than ever before. Wildflowers, wine tastings, beautifully crafted food, linen tablecloths, carefully selected local musicians and lovely creations from local artists will all meld together to create a relaxed atmosphere for the Labor Day Weekend event on Saturday, Sept. 2, in Riverside Park.

Salida Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lori Roberts attributed the increased interest from wineries to the leadership of Katwin Hinerman, chamber office manager and events coordinator. “Katwin’s ideas made it blossom more than other years when wineries would register and then back out, leaving us with only 10 to 14 vendors. This year wineries had to submit a $100 deposit that’s refundable on the day of the event; it was a great push for us. She also did a great job reaching out to wineries that we’ve never had before.”

The chamber, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, has organized the event since 2011 when Roberts founded it. “We were looking to bring a different event to Salida. Vino Salida Wine Cellars and Mountain Spirit Winery were already here then, so we thought, ‘let’s have a wine festival,’” Roberts said.

Wine lovers are welcome to bring their children to the family-friendly event, conveniently situated adjacent to the playground at Riverside Park.

Food offerings include a Venezuelan food truck, antipasto from Jumpin’ Goat Dairy, crepes from Rustingram Catering, hamburgers from Crossroads Café, and pies and breads from The Drunken Muffin. Roberts explained that organizers have conveniently planned the festival to take place from 1 to 6 p.m. “We aren’t trying to crunch any [restaurant’s] lunch or dinner hour. Our hope is that people will dine in town.”

As part of the chamber’s desire to have Salida visitors “stay another day,” this year’s festival has a new addition – a six-course wine pairing dinner at Shallots Restaurant at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. Hosting a dinner the night before the festival encourages out of town attendees to book lodging in the area for two nights instead of just one; it also positively impacts other local businesses such as gas stations and downtown retail shops.

“The idea is also to bring Salida restaurants into the festival this year; it’s an experiment. If it’s received well by the wineries and the public, we’ll expand it next year,” Hinerman said.

Artisans participating in the festival will bring their hand-blown glass, bamboo jewelry and locally made soaps and oils. The music lineup will put TJ & Friends under the “tulip tent” from 1-2:30 p.m., Chris Nasca from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. and Catfish Waldrip from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The “tulip tent” will offer shade for musicians and festivalgoers.

Tickets for the festival are available at the Salida Chamber of Commerce on U.S. Hwy. 50 or online at salidawinefest.com. Prices for people ages 21 and up are $20 in advance or $25 at the door, and include a commemorative wine glass, wine tote and unlimited tastings at the event. A “designated driver” ticket to the event is $10 and does not include the wine glass, the tote or the tastings. Tickets for children ages 15 and older are $10; those under age 15 may attend the event for free. Bottles of wine will be available for purchase at the festival to those ages 21 and older.

Reservations for the wine pairing dinner are strongly encouraged as the event is limited to 60 guests; tickets are $100 per person. For more information about the event, stop by the chamber or visit salidawinefest.com.