Wine in Pines sets the night afire |

Wine in Pines sets the night afire

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Ski Tip Ranch executive chef Matt Fackler and Anna McMillan.

KEYSTONE – Not even a fire alarm could get Wine in the Pines guests to leave.Saturday’s 21st annual Wine in the Pines at the Keystone Conference Center drew about 1,000 people to indulge in more than 500 international wines, gourmet food from Keystone’s finest restaurants and a mountain of chocolate and other desserts, according to Mike Smith, co-founder of the event that benefits Colorado Cerebral Palsy.Officials are still tallying numbers from the event which includes a Friday night intimate dinner and live and silent auctions.When a fire flare from the potato bar set off a prerecorded emergency alarm asking people to exit the building, few heeded the warning.The potato bar, which served three kinds of gourmet mashed potatoes topped with a choice of duck, shrimp and other meat, consistently had the longest line all night. When Smith announced that people should exit the room, people didn’t budge from the potato line, he said.

Other guests slowly made their way to the exit, but by the time less than half of the people left the room, Smith announced it was safe to return. And the night of fashion and feasting continued without a hitch.Unless, of course, you were Parker resident Mercedes Devitt, who initially felt shock when she walked into a ballroom full of women dressed in gowns and men in suits or tuxedos. No one told her Wine in the Pines wasn’t a typical mountain gathering, so she wore jeans.”We walked in and said, “Oh my God, where are our spaghetti straps? This is horrible. We’re underdressed,'” Devitt said. “But once we got in here, it was fine. The general atmosphere made us feel comfortable.”Despite the sequined gowns and high heels, Wine in the Pines tends to have a friendly, rather than snobby atmosphere. In fact, some people play with fashion – like Brian York, who put his blonde hair in a mohawk and donned a retro, turquoise tuxedo.Others seize the opportunity to dress their best.Silverthorne resident Amy Mytczynsky wore a semi-backless, black-sequined dress that hugged her body and showed a little midriff.”It’s kind of uncomfortable, but I love it,” Mytczynsky said. “We just don’t get to dress up enough up here, so I love it.”

Her date, Ted Shred, seemed even more excited about dressing up in a tuxedo.”My only regret is that we have so few events in the county to get dressed up at this level,” Shred said.Silverthorne resident Lynne Hudson said she went “everywhere – a million places” to find the perfect dress. She ended up with a black and gold dress from a boutique in Arizona.”Wine in the Pines is my favorite event,” Hudson said. “I think it’s the biggest event in Summit County. There’s nothing else that compares.””It gets bigger and better every year,” said Silverthorne resident Chuck Savall, who has been to the event four times. “The food this year is better than ever, and there’s more of it. I used to leave here a little hungry, but now I’m actually stuffed.”Even Front Range wine aficionados Jim Cooley, Dave Brush and Vicky McRoberts agree that Wine in the Pines often surpasses wine-tasting events in Denver. The trio attends about one wine tasting a month, but Wine in the Pines has the most vendors, they said.

“This is one of the best ones we’ve been to,” Brush said.Cooley added the wine was wonderful. McRoberts’ main suggestion for improvement was for the wine distributors to suggest which wine goes best with specific dishes offered at the event. And being a wine-tasting veteran, she gave this guideline: “Try to drink as much water as wine, particularly at this elevation, because otherwise you don’t appreciate the wine at the end,” she said.And for those who didn’t drink enough water – or just plain drank too much wine – Colorado Mountain Express was on hand to give free rides home.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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