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Reds, Whites and Brews Festival

July 3, 2013

Last Saturday I attended Reds, Whites and Brews – a wine and beer festival right here in beautiful Avon, Colorado – and it was truly a blast!  The festival is only in its second year and was a really well-put-together event.  They had 20 Colorado craft brewers and more than 25 wine makers from around the world, plus three live bands and plenty of yummy food vendors.

Reds, Whites and Brews Avon

Tickets cost only $25 if bought well in advance, and $30 closer to the date, which I found to be an excellent value.  When I’ve attended other wine festivals in Colorado they’ve cost upwards of $45, and I’d imagine they cost more elsewhere.  For this price you received admission, a tasting glass and unlimited tastings from 1 to 6 p.m.  My only qualms were with the tasting cup, which was more of an oversized shot glass than anything.  For $25 it’s hard to complain, but in the future I’d probably bring my own tasting glass (I know, I’m a snob).  VIP admission cost $65 in advance and included a food tent and a stemless wine glass for tasting. 

The festival went from 1 to 6 p.m. and we rolled up on our bikes around 2:00 p.m.  I figured from past wine festival experience that we wouldn’t need all 5 hours of all-you-can-drink time, so we had a relaxing morning, went for a hike and then grabbed lunch on our ride over.  Biking to the festival, which was only about 4 miles from our house, was hands-down our best decision of the day.  

We met up with a couple of groups of friends who were already at the festival and scoped out the scene.  

Friends at Reds, Whites and Brews

Compared to the other wine festivals I’ve attended in Denver and Palisade, the best part of attending Reds, Whites and Brews right in my hometown was how many of my friends were in attendance.  It turned into much more of a social event than a focused tasting event for me, but I didn’t mind that at all.

Kelly and Me and Reds, Whites and Brews

My friend Kelly and I learned at our first wine festival last summer that a good sun hat is the most important thing you can wear to an outdoor wine festival in Colorado. Create your own shade!

It was well laid-out with wine in the center and beer around the perimeter.  I decided to start on the wine (my preferred poison) while my taste buds were still fresh and move on to beer once my palate was shot.  

Hunky Dory Wine

An early favorite was Hunky Dory, a producer out of New Zealand who poured some excellent Sauvignon Blancs.  We all particularly liked this wine, “The Tangle,” a light and refreshing blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Yum!

After tasting a few more wines, we decided to grab a snack, so we meandered over to the food tents.  The guys at Five Star Catering were talking up their Beer & Bacon Cupcakes.  Um, sold.

Beer and Bacon Cupcake

The options were Vanilla IPA or Chocolate Stout, and we opted for the Vanilla IPA with intentions to come back later for the Chocolate Stout.  On our way over to sit down and enjoy the cupcake, we stopped by one of the wine tables and asked what they’d suggest as a pairing.  After wiping the drool off of her chin, the woman poured us a Cotes du Rhone which she promised would pair well with the smokey bacon.  She did not lie.  The cupcake was good but a little dry, but we did venture back at the end of the festival for a Chocolate Stout cupcake and that one knocked our socks off.  Moist, flavorful and delicious – I have serious intentions to try to recreate it at home sometime.

Cachette

We also loved this Cachette Cotes-du-Rhone.  I don’t remember why exactly, so I might just have to buy it, drink it again and report back.  The woman who was pouring at this particular table presented the best tasting of the entire festival.  She gathered a small group of us around and told us that she was about to take us on a culinary journey.  Were we ready? Oh heck yes.  With each wine, she described in mouth-watering detail what dish she’d serve it with and the pairings were all spot-on.  By the end of the tasting I wanted to buy most of the wines.  And a bleu cheese and bacon burger to go with a particularly well-structured Cabernet.  Why doesn’t every tasting go like this?  Afterward, Stanley and I made a beeline back to the food tents.

Reds, Whites and Brews Food Vendors

He ordered some kind of delicious gourmet brat from Five Star Catering and was nice enough to share a bite, and I snagged a Cheddar Jalapeno Pretzel twice the size of my face from the Giant Pretzel vendor.  Before sitting down to enjoy them, we stopped by the Gore Range Brewery tent (our local micro-brewery) to grab a beer and chat with the brewmaster, who is a friend of ours.  A taste of their Saison cooled me down perfectly from the heat of my spicy pretzel. 

GRB Saison at Reds Whites and Brews

While sitting down to enjoy our grub, we also listened to the band play for a little while.  All three bands were good, but they sounded so similar that I honestly couldn’t tell when one stopped and the next went on.  One friend quipped that we had both kinds of music at this festival – country and western 🙂

Band Tent at Reds, Whites and Brews

With some food in our stomachs, we were ready for a little more wine.  One of my favorite finds of the day was Real Compania de Vinos, a lineup of really tasty and affordable Spanish wines.

Reds, Whites and Brews Avon

My favorites of the bunch were a dry and fruity Rose and the Garnacha, an easy-drinking and fruit-forward red that retails for around $11.  I thought these were great value wines but also just plain delicious, regardless of the price point.  Plus, with the funky labels and not-just-cab varietals, they’d be fun bottles to bring to a friend’s house for dinner.  I’m hoping to swing by the liquor store to pick up a couple of these puppies later this evening.

Reds, Whites and Brews

One thing I loved about this festival was that rather than selling wines right there, all of the beer and wine from the festival is available at Avon Liquors. In the days following Reds, Whites and Brews (today is the cutoff), attendees could bring in their wrist bands from the festival to receive a 15% discount off those products.  Cool, huh?  I liked it because it took away the pressure to buy at the time, plus it was convenient for people like me who biked or walked to the festival and would’ve had a hard time transporting wine home.

Reds, Whites and Brews

Throughout the festival, dark clouds loomed above us, threatening rain.  At this time of year, it’s pretty typical to have a quick afternoon shower, so nobody paid them much notice.  Even when the skies did open up for about 10 minutes that afternoon, nobody seemed to blink an eye and the fun didn’t even pause.  Everyone either threw on their rain gear or just got a little wet and kept the party going.  I love Colorado – in most other places, I’m pretty sure people would have freaked out and run for cover!

Reds, Whites and Brews

After enjoying so much wine that I couldn’t really taste it anymore (never a great sign), I was more than ready to casually sip a few beers and chat with my friends.  I tried some delicious pale ales and a truly disgusting Green Chili Beer – seriously, it tasted like enchiladas – and enjoyed the people watching as the people around me grew more and more intoxicated. 

Eventually, it was time to pack up and climb back on the bike for a careful ride home.  I hope that Reds, Whites and Brews continues to be an annual event because I already can’t wait for next year.  Cheers to a wonderful 4th of July Weekend, whatever you’re doing!

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