Park City’s Food & Wine Classic returns
When Team Players Productions introduced the Park City Food & Wine Classic to Utah in 2004, people thought it was crazy, said company president Jason Ornstein.
"However, we thought there was a need for something like this in the Utah market, especially in Park City because of the Sundance Film Festival and the fact that there are so many great culinary opportunities here," Ornstein said during an interview with The Park Record. "Plus we felt a festival would bring more tourists into town and have an economic impact."
The festival started as a two-day event and it was sort of an afterthought for wineries to participate, he said.
"Now, we hold a five-day festival and a lot of wineries want to get involved because they see what an opportunity the Classic is to introduce themselves to the state," Ornstein said. "They call us because they want to be part of it."
The ninth annual Park City Food & Wine Classic will be held from Wednesday, July 10, through Sunday, July 14. The event, which is also a benefit for the People’s Health Clinic, a nonprofit organization that provides health care to the uninsured in Summit and Wasatch Counties, will be filled with outdoor activities, wine tastings, educational seminars and public and private dinners throughout the town. (See accompanying schedule)
The event’s director Katie Schultze said she has not only seen an increase in winery participants, but also an increase in local-business participation.
"We work closely now with the Park City Area Restaurant Association, and we also have a great relationship with the People’s Health Clinic," Schultze said. "In addition to the Food & Wine Classic, we continue to develop new events for the clinic to help them raise funds."
To meet the rising popularity of the Food & Wine Classic, Schultze said the qualities of the wines and wineries have grown as well.
"We’ve stepped things up and are now able to offer more varieties," she said.
To do that, Schultze and Ornstein continually think of new activities to add.
This year, they came up with the Farm to Barn Wine Dinner at Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship.
"We are excited about this," Schultze said. "It’s a signature event that we are putting forth with the People’s Health Clinic."
Farm to Barn will feature three chefs — James Dumas of High West Distillery, Chip McMullin of St. Regis Deer Valley and David Mullen from the Apex Restaurant at Montage Deer Valley — who will create a five-course dinner for participants.
"We are very proud to have these three artisans as part of the event," Ornstein said. "It’s a celebration of local Utah food. We just saw the menu and the folks attending the dinner will walk away awe-inspired."
In addition, Ron Mumford, a local Master Wine Sommelier has selected the different wines to pair with the meal, Schultze said.
"You can’t get much better than the Blue Sky Ranch," she said. "The venue that has this picturesque barn in the middle of the hills just outside of Park City is perfect."
Other Food & Wine Classic events include the bike-and-wine seminar called Mud, Sweat and Cheers and the hiking outing called Hike & Hops that will take place on July 12, as well as a wine and whiskey walk on July 13, to name a few.
"Every year we have our staple events from Thursday through Saturday, and we always host educational seminars, but the topics vary from year to year," Schultze explained. "That way, participants aren’t going to get the same thing all the time."
This year the Classic will feature at least 250 different wineries, which will bring more than 600 different wines, Ornstein said.
"The beauty of wine is that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to individual tastes," he said. "Some people may like the $10 to $15 bottles and some may like the $50 ones."
In addition to the wines, the Park City Food & Wine Classic features artisan ale and beer-pairing sessions as well.
"It’s been a few years since we’ve added these other drinks into the festival," Schultze said. "Like wine sommeliers, there are beer sommeliers and they all love to talk about the uniqueness of these products.
"The craft beer world is huge and it would be an oversight to not include them into the festival," she said. "Like with the wine, not just about going and sampling, but about experiencing."
Ornstein credits Schultze with the success of these activities.
"It’s amazing what Katie does," he said. "We like to say she herds cats, because she has to coordinate all the wine makers, chefs and venues. She literally has her thumbprint on everything."
Schultze, on the other hand, downplays her role and said the Food & Wine Classic has a reputation that speaks for itself.
"Being in our ninth year, and having such great community involvement, it’s easy for others to contact me," she said. "I make a big spreadsheet and find the best way of everyone to play together."
The ninth annual Park City Food & Wine Classic will run from July 10 through July 14, and offers a variety of experiences on the mountain, in restaurants, classrooms and around town that can increase participants’ knowledge and enjoyment of food and wine as well as other the experiences Park City has to offer. For more information and tickets, visit http://www.parkcityfoodandwineclassic.com .
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