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Prepare for a night of indulgence

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI

KEYSTONE – Just when you’re facing a winter of fleece and Sorrels, Wine in the Pines presents an elegant opportunity to don your best threads.Saturday, Oct. 23, the 21st annual Wine in the Pines fundraiser for Cerebral Palsy of Colorado offers a night of indulgence with gourmet food, international wines and mountains of chocolate. Not to mention more than 300 auction items.Whether your downfall is eating, drinking or shopping, Wine in the Pines has it. And you don’t need a special invitation; it’s open to the public.”A lot of people get concerned about the price, but you get the finest food from all of Keystone’s restaurants and also wines from around the world that cost in excess of $50 to $75 a bottle,” said co-founder Mike Smith. “I don’t think you can go any place in the world and get the value of the food and the wine for the price. I talk to all kinds of people who come for the first time, and they’re just amazed at the value for the price they spend. And it’s for a wonderful cause. Plus it’s tax deductible.”

Drinking it all inWine distributors present about 600 wines for tasting. In addition, guests can taste single malt scotches and high-end tequilas.”I can’t stress enough the quality of some of the wines,” Smith said. “Beringer Winery is presenting the finest wines in California.”Eating it upThen there’s the food.

Saturday’s wine-tasting gala features a taste of Keystone’s gourmet entrees from its finest restaurants, as well as a selection of gourmet desserts – and the chefs try to outdo each other.Ski Tip Lodge offers Jamaican jerk-spiced roasted lamb chop with a mango pumpkin seed chutney; Champeaux presents salmon bouillabaisee; Big Horn rustles up some cowboy-style, fire-roasted tenderloin of beef; the Summit Seafood Co. reels in a crab-stuffed lemon sole; Keystone Ranch serves medallions of High Country venison, and Alpenglow Stube stands tall with its smoked moulard duck breast. And that’s just a sample of the full menu.Aside from the abundant food and wine, it’s the mountain of chocolate – literally – that attracts some guests. The 16-foot dessert buffet features a 6-foot high, solid chocolate volcano, complete with flowing chocolate lava. This year, pastry chef Ned Archibald adds a chocolate fountain for dipping strawberries and such.”People go there for no other reason than to eat the chocolate,” Smith said. “The pastry and dessert chef goes completely out on this thing. Every year, he does something different, and it takes him almost all day Saturday to set up the dessert table. He has every single type of chocolate dessert you’ve ever tasted.”Going on a spending spree

The event also offers about 300 items for auction, ranging from fine art to sports memorabilia and gift certificates. This year, world-renowned Denver artist John DeAndrea donated a bronze head named “Lisa.” DeAndrea creates lifecast figures and busts in polyvinyl or bronze polychromed in oil. In Denver, he’s best known for “Linda,” an ultra-realistic sculpture of a sleeping woman displayed at the Denver Art Museum. “Wine in the Pines is our signature event that grosses the highest amount of money,” said Judith Ham, executive director of Cerebral Palsy (CP) of Colorado.How it all beganWine in the Pines began as an Oktoberfest celebration at the Best Western in Frisco 20 years ago, when the county was definitely beer oriented. Mike and Margaret Smith, who own Dillon Ridge Liquors and Blue Valley Discount Liquors, wanted to introduce more people to the art of wine tasting, so they began Wine in the Pines at Keystone Ranch.

They raised $4,500 the first year for CP of Colorado, an organization they hold dear because their daughter has cerebral palsy. In the past two decades, they have raised more than $2 million for the organization, and Mike Smith plans to reach $3 million in about two to three years, he said.Within four years, the 250-plus guests outgrew Keystone Ranch, and within three years, the wine-tasters outgrew Keystone’s original convention center above the Edgewater Café. The Smiths added a winemaker’s dinner at the ranch to the wine-tasting event, but attendees quickly outgrew it again. Mike Smith attributed the phenomenal growth to the fine food and wines.The event has drawn 1,300 people in the past, and in the last few years, about 800 have attended annually. However, the Smiths expect this year’s fundraiser to be one of the largest, partially because Comcast, one of the sponsors, is advertising it.The financesOne hundred percent of the proceeds from Wine in the Pines returns to the community, Ham said. A portion goes to Cerebral Palsy of Colorado, and a portion goes to Summit County nonprofits.

This year’s local recipients include Bristlecone Health Services and Timberline Adult Daycare Services. CP of Colorado has served Coloradans with disabilities for more than 57 years through inclusive early education programs, comprehensive community-based employment and statewide education and support that promote the development of human potential. A large portion of the money raised supports efforts to connect parents statewide, encourage legislative activities and help people with disabilities in the job market.For more information about CP of Colorado, call (303) 691-9339.Wine in the Pines costs $100 in advance or $115 at the door (a portion is tax deductible). Tickets may be purchased in advance until 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at Dillon Ridge and Blue Valley liquor stores, Alpine Camera in Breckenridge and the Keystone Events Center or by calling (303) 691-9339.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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