Explore a world of wine at the Breckenridge Wine Classic

The Pinot Passport Hike event at Spencer's restaurant at Beaver Run Resort in during the 2017 Breckenridge Wine Classic. The 2019 festival is happening Friday through Sunday.
Courtesy Steve Peterson / TerraChroma

BRECKENRIDGE — Wine, wilderness and wonder combine once again in Breckenridge. Following Thursday’s evening of wine pairing dinners, the Breckenridge Wine Classic continues this weekend with three full days of events in addition Saturday’s grand tasting. 

Presented by Team Player Productions — the organizers of the Vail Craft Beer Classic and Denver Burger Battle — for the past four years, wine lovers have been able to enjoy seminars presented by master sommeliers and other culinary professionals while sampling wine, beer, spirits and food.

Since the beginning, the event has benefited Breckenridge’s National Repertory Orchestra. Alumni of the program will be playing at the Riverwalk lawn during the grand tasting in conjunction with the organization’s silent auction.

If You Go

What: Breckenridge Wine Classic

When: Friday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Sept. 15

Where: Throughout Breckenridge with the grand tasting at the Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave.

Cost: $35-$149. Visit to purchase individual tickets and packages.

Returning this year with additional stops is Stroll Breckenridge, an outdoor walking tour of the town that pauses at various art galleries, historic sites and tasting rooms for guests to partake in drink samples. Also making a comeback due to popular demand is Swirl This, a seminar on Riedel glasses. The sold-out tutorial will demonstrate how the different glass types affect the taste of different varietals. A perk of the class is that participants receive four Riedel glasses to take home with them.

While all of the other events happening this weekend are new, the major change in the festival is the setup of the grand tasting. In previous years, the tasting was one four-hour block with VIP guests having an hour to themselves before the gates opened for general admission. Now, about 1,600 people will sample about 400 types of wine from more than 40 local, domestic and international wineries in the span of two sessions. The National Repertory Orchestra’s silent auction will happen both times with about 10-15 items per session. 

Though VIP ticket holders have lost the exclusive hour, they’ve instead gained access to select wines that won’t be available to others during the tasting. Eight wineries — including LangeTwins, Hahn Family Wines, The Storm Cellar, Continental Divide Winery from Breckenridge — will pour from bottles reserved for the VIP section.

Sauce on the Maggie will be catering the food for the VIPs while other guests can enjoy small plates from local restaurants and the Colorado Five, a collective of restaurateurs from establishments such as Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, Bin 707 Foodbar and The Rose. All food is included in the ticket price.

Food from the Pinot Passport Hike event at Spencer’s restaurant at Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge during the 2017 Breckenridge Wine Classic. Along with Spencer’s, participating restaurants at the 2019 festival include Sauce on the Maggie, Hearthstone, Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon and others.
Courtesy Steve Peterson / TerraChroma

Even people who aren’t particularly fond of wine can take a breather with beer and cocktail samples from Breckenridge Brewery, Breckenridge Distillery, Branch and Barrel, Kettle One and more.

“The wine is definitely the bulk of what we’re showcasing at the event, but it’s nice to break it up a little bit and have a few special offerings,” said Katie Jenkins, event director for Team Player Productions.

Those wanting to keep all of that alcohol in order should download the event’s companion app. Each winery will have a QR code that they can scan with the app, saving the wine’s pertinent information in the program’s “Wine Cellar.” Users can then remember their favorite wines and purchase them through the event’s partnership with Basecamp Wine & Spirits in Frisco.

“It’s a nice tie-in, because legally you can’t take home what you’re drinking at the event but you want to retain that information and potentially purchase it post-event,” she said.

The perfect pairing

One of the many experts participating in the festival is master sommelier Sean Razee. Previously the corporate beverage director for Vail Resorts, Razee became the 99th certified master sommelier in the U.S. in 2008. His love for wine began after visiting wine regions around Santa Barbara, California, and took his first sommelier test in 2002.

He has been involved with the Breckenridge Wine Classic since it began, working with various local restaurants for seminars, luncheons and dinners.

“I always believed this could become one of Colorado’s biggest and best signature wine events due to the location and time of year,” Razee wrote in an email.

One of the many experts participating in the festival is master sommelier Sean Razee. He became the 99th certified master sommelier in the U.S. in 2008.
Courtesy Sean Razee

This time around, he crafted pairings for Thursday’s dinner at Aurum — featuring wines from France’s Loire Valley and Oregon’s Willamette Valley — and his handiwork can also be found during the Top of the Boot: Exploring Piedmont and Beyond luncheon Friday at Sauce on the Maggie. In collaboration with master sommelier Damon Ornowski, the seminar features wines from the northwest and Piedmont region of Italy.

“The idea of using wines from one particular region of Italy seemed like it would be more intriguing and educational for the guests than a broader Italian-themed luncheon,” Razee wrote.

He said he isn’t in the business of telling people what they should or shouldn’t enjoy and that he believes people should simply drink what they like.

“One of the great things about a multicourse luncheon or dinner is that you get to taste several wines in one meal and hopefully you find a few things that are fun and intriguing or that you find compelling,” he wrote.

A scene of the grand tasting at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge during the 2017 festival. This year, the Breckenridge Wine Classic will have two grand tasting sessions featuring about 400 wines.
Courtesy Steve Peterson / TerraChroma

Those are just a handful of grapes in a whole vineyard’s worth of events. Make sure to stay hydrated and visit for the festival’s complete schedule.

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