Telluride Wine Festival: Miller & More

Any self-respecting poet of pinot can rattle off a list of reasons why grape is good. For starters, wine complements and enhances the taste of food.

“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food,” W.C. Fields.

TWF- Italians

TWF- Italians

On dark days, wine can help shoo away the clouds.

“Give…wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember misery no more,” Proverbs 31:6-7

And science has proven that drinking wine (in moderation of course) contributes to health. One ingredient in wine, resveratrol, may enhance longevity; certain chemicals in wine are known to counteract the nasty effects of fat and cholesterol – which helps explain the “French paradox.”

“Wine is the only thing that makes us happy as adults for no reason,” cartoonist and wit Saul Steinberg.

Which is reason enough to check out the 33rd annual Telluride Wine Festival, produced in conjunction with the Telluride Ski Resort.



But there’s more.

Now under direction of Laurel Robinson, executive director, and Patrick Laguens, co-director, the mission of the Telluride Wine Festival is ambitious and far-reaching: to stimulate the local economy, educate attendees and donate a large portion of event proceeds to support nonprofits dedicated to the culinary arts and children’s health and education.

Laurel Miller, co-author, Cheese for Dummies

Laurel Miller, co-author, Cheese for Dummies

The nonprofit eventually hopes to give scholarships to individuals who might better the region through wine and/or culinary education and also create a community kitchen to be used for cooking classes and as a low-cost production facility for local entrepreneurs promoting food-based initiatives.

The weekend – this year from Thursday, June 26 – Sunday, June 29, is the “Highest Wine Tasting in North America.” On the agenda: great wines, food, celebrity guests (wine mavens and chefs), talks and camaraderie in an unmatchable setting.

New this year is a free cooking class for kids in Mountain Village and a cooking demonstration featuring a local chefs.

A nightly Speakeasy targets participants who want to burn calories – and the midnight oil.

A Reidel glass tasting endeavors to prove the glass does make a difference in the way you taste your wine.


Thursday and Friday evenings, eat and drink your way through the Towns of Telluride and Mountain Village, wine glass in hand, sampling treats from local restaurants, while taking in the abundant talent on display in the Telluride Arts District, one of only seven in the state.

During the daylight hours, attend compelling seminars and cooking demos, including the Thursday keynote talk featuring Tim Hanni, who plans to walk attendees through a spectrum of tastes to determine why people like the wines they like and more.

Food and travel writer, owner of The Sustainable Kitchen, co-author of “Cheese for Dummies,” former Telluride local and Wine Fest volunteer Laurel Miller returns to town to renew old acquaintances and enliven several tastings: “Distilled Knowledge – Pairing Cheese & Spirits”; “Smugglers Brew Pub Cheese Pairing.”

At “Distilled Knowledge,” Festival guests are invited to join Miller and Bryan Dayton, award-winning mixologist/proprietor of  OAK at Fourteenth and Acorn in Boulder, for an eye-opening look at pairing cheese with spirits. Their goal: turn people on to  a practice that isn’t widely done in America (yet), while educating guests about the emerging domestic craft spirits and established artisan cheese scene on the Front Range.

Miller & friend

Miller & friend

At the Smuggler’s event, Miller teams up with head brewer TJ Daley. Turns out cheese is easier to pair with beer than wine because of similar raw ingredients (grass versus hops), production methods (fermentation) and flavor profiles.

Other Wine Fest happenings include reserve and blind tastings (sake, wine, champagne, beer spirits), cooking demonstrations, and seminars. (See the schedule for details.)

For more of what’s in store from Laurel Miller, click the “play” button and eavesdrop on our chat.

OR, if you happen to be around Basalt, Colorado, on June 22….

As a fairly new resident of the Roaring Fork Valley, Miller is currently consumed with exploring lesser-known facets of the region, from food producers to outdoor recreation. She is now working with the Basalt Regional Library Foundation on a fundraiser she conceptualized and is organizing, featuring acclaimed chef, author, restaurateur, and “Top Chef” judge, Hugh Acheson. The event is scheduled for Sunday, June 22, at the library, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Upon learning his public school district had cut Home Economics classes and that other schools were relying on “forty-year-old-textbooks,” Acheson was motivated to “fix the curriculum of Home Ec and Consumer Sciences, to make kids more food-aware, healthier, and give them the tools for an active future.” Working with local and state officials, he is laying the groundwork for a syllabus for his school district.

At the fundraiser, Acheson is scheduled to talk about food security and how school culinary and garden programs can provide a healthier, sustainable future for our children and planet. (Complimentary wine, cheese, and fruit will be served.)

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