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Taos toast: Winter Wine Festival features tastings, seminars, pairing dinners

The 34th annual Taos Winter Wine Festival returns Jan. 30-Feb. 2 to various locations including Taos Ski Valley. Courtesy of Vin Events LLC

A winter wonderland with wine is what keeps vino lovers returning to the Taos Winter Wine Festival.

The festival, in its 34th year, will feature a Reserve Tasting, Grand Tasting, a sparkling wine brunch, luncheons, wine dinners, seminars and more. Each of the events will take place at Taos-area locations, including restaurants, hotels and Taos Ski Valley, from Jan. 30 through Feb. 2.

Forty wineries as well as wine importers have been invited to the event. Each winery will have their winemaker or owner on board to discuss their wines with festivalgoers.

“The Thursday (Jan. 30, Taste of Taos &) Reserve Tasting is in the town of Taos at the Sagebrush Inn, and the Grand Tasting is at the Taos Ski Valley on Saturday, (Feb. 1),” said Greg O’Byrne, CEO of Vin Events LLC. “Each of those two big tastings also have all 40 wineries pour wine, and we have 12 different Taos restaurants serving tastes of food, so those are easy and intimate events to get to know the winemaker of the 40 wineries and taste wines in person with them, which is kind of a unique part of the Taos Winter Wine Fest, given that it is attended by the winemaker or owner, so for the people that attend it’s kind of a nice opportunity to meet them.”

Taos restaurants are partnering with some of the wineries for several wine dinners on Wednesday, Jan. 29, Thursday, Jan. 30, and Friday, Jan. 31. Participating restaurants include Snakedance, Aceq, Doc Martin’s, Lamberts, Common Fire, Medley, Bavarian, Love Apple, Blonde Bear Tavern and De La Tierra. Required reservations can be made by calling the restaurants. Contact information and a wine dinner list can be found on the festival’s website.

There will be two mountain tastings at Taos Ski Valley.

“There’s a lamb roast on Friday (Jan. 31), at the deck of the Phoenix Grill, which is Chair 4,” O’Byrne said. “It’s an outdoor luncheon from 12 to 1:30. It’s on the deck. You can walk around the deck and taste wines from five different importers and taste lamb prepared in three different ways from three different restaurants, so that’s really fun.”

On Saturday, Feb. 1, will be the Willamette Valley Wines, Salmon Roast & Grilled Oysters from noon to 1:30 p.m. on the Snakedance Deck patio at Chair 1. Three Taos restaurants will be serving salmon and oysters, with five wineries from the Willamette Valley in Oregon serving tastes of its wines.

For those who prefer to stay out of the cold and off the mountain slopes, several indoor wine seminars will be offered at Taos Ski Valley, including “Heitz Vertical Tasting,” “Grenache in All Its Glory (and Colors),” “Alternative History Lesson With Steve Matthiasson and Rob Sinskey,” and “Sangiovese Masterclass with William Davis of Wilson Daniels,” and “Chateau Musar Vertical.”

The final event of the festival is the Super Sunday Sparkling Brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2, at Blake 192. Four certified organic Cavas from Miquel Pons will be accompanied by food pairings.

Most of the wineries participating in the festival represent the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, including Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Matthiasson Winery and Marietta Cellars. About half a dozen importers will be bringing wines from around the world, including Dalla Terra, that represents about two dozen Italian wineries, and Kermit Lynch, an importer of French wines.

“They’re all well known and hip importers, top names really,” O’Byrne said. “And so we’re celebrating all of them.”

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