The celebration of wine and jazz returns to Keystone for its fourth consecutive year this weekend. Originally founded in the early ’90s, the festival took a hiatus for several years before returning in 2010. Now it’s growing, featuring around 300 varieties of wine from all over the globe, as well as beer, spirits, food from local vendors and educational seminars covering a range of wine-related topics.
Sip and savor
Last year the festival pulled in about 300 types of wines, up from the 200s in years previous. This year continues the trend, featuring wines not only from California and throughout the U.S. but Spain, New Zealand and Chile as well, to name just a few.
People can choose how they want to experience the festival — a one- or two-day pass, buying wine by the glass, or attending the special Tasting Reserve event on Friday. Simply walking around, listening to music and soaking in the atmosphere is another option, and doesn’t cost anything.
“The two-day pass is the way to go, because you can pace yourself a little bit,” said Maja Russer, director of events and marketing for the Keystone Neighbourhood Company, with a laugh. “You don’t have to try and sample everything in four hours. Why not give yourself two days and really enjoy it and get something out of it?”
Though there are more than enough wines available to taste on Saturday and Sunday, the Reserve Wine Tasting on Friday night is for the true connoisseur. The wines at the event range around $60 to $100 a bottle, Russer said, and will not be found anywhere else at the festival.
“Those are really special wines that you don’t get to try every day and they are hand-picked by the suppliers that attend the event,” she said. The reserve tasting is designed for “hard core wine enthusiasts (who) want to try something special.”
The event is presented in partnership with the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, which will receive a dollar donation for every ticket purchased.
While there is no official dress code, the tasting event is a great chance for participants to get all dressed up, Russer said.
“Take off the hiking boots and mountain biking shorts for a night and come out and put on a dress or your slacks,” she said. “It’s a nice way to kick off the entire festival weekend.”
The weekend will feature eight different jazz experiences, to match the wide variety of wines available.
“We always try and keep things fresh,” said Russer, when it comes to the musical line-up.
This year includes Grammy-nominated musician Stanley Jordan. His latest album, “Friends” has also received an NAACP Image Award nomination. Jordan will play on Saturday from 4-5:30 p.m. at the River Run events plaza.
As always, the Colorado-based band Dotsero will be on hand Saturday afternoon to entertain the crowd with “a no-nonsense sax and guitar driven thrill ride of energy and excitement,” according to their band bio.
While wine and food fulfill the palate, the various wine seminars hosted by experts will fulfill the desire for knowledge.
“It’s just another level of getting up close and personal to wine,” said Michael Ditch, division manager of Bacchus for Republic National Distributing Company. Ditch likes to incorporate seminars into all festival events he works with, for the added level of understanding and connection it provides.
This year’s seminars focus on pink wines, notable Cabernet regions around the world, sparkling wine cocktails and the history of Spanish wines.
“I definitely think that a complete wine beginner can walk in and just come out learning a ton, as well as a more versed wine connoisseur (who) will also walk away learning something they didn’t,” said Russer. “The wine seminars are so fun and unique. The folks that teach them are incredibly knowledgeable and they’re also just fun.”