A classic pairing of wine and food in Park City
June 29, 2012
Eight years ago, Team Player Productions in Denver, Colo., decided to present a wine and food festival in Park City.
The company wasn’t a stranger to wine festivals, because it has presented other events such as the Taste of Fort Collins and the Steamboat Wine Festival.
But when it announced it wanted to create a wine festival in Utah, some thought the idea was nuts, said Jason Ornstein, Team Player Productions president.
"Most people, based on their perception of the laws, thought we were crazy to bring an event that involved alcohol to Utah," Ornstein said with a laugh during a phone-conference interview with The Park Record from his office in Colorado. "We try to do things outside the box and the festival has since became a rich reward for us and for Park City. So far, it seems to have worked out quite well."
The Park City Food and Wine Classic will kick off at St. Regis Deer Valley on Thursday, July 5, and be held in various venues in Park City through Sunday, July 8.
The festival not only will feature education and social activities, but also serve as a fundraiser for the People’s Health Clinic, which provides quality healthcare for underinsured residents in Summit and Wasatch counties.
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Over the years, the Park City Food and Wine Classic has become a signature event for the area, said festival director Katie Schultz, who scheduled all the events.
"Each year we increase our number of wineries and participants, which is really exciting," Schultz said. "This year, we have record numbers of wineries and suppliers that are going to be a part of the festival."
There are more than 500 different wines that will be offered this year, Ornstein said.
"There are a great number of people who are interested in wine and are now taking note and wanting to get involved to get their brand recognized," he said.
Many people like wine because of its social connotations, Ornstein said.
"People can sip the wines and talk about them, and since there are so many to choose from, if they don’t like one, they can sample another one and discuss why they like it or why they don’t," he explained. "People can talk about the different aspects about the wines whether they are novices or experts. There is always something to be said, and doing that outside in a beautiful setting in Park City makes for an attractive weekend."
Last year, the classic presented an Introductory Sommelier course and exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers America, and it’s back by popular demand, Schultz said.
"We brought something to Utah that was never seen before, and the Court loved what we did and they were happy to partner with us again this year," she said. "Since the wine culture is building in Utah, it made sense to bring this great education experience back."
Students must pass four levels before becoming Master Sommeliers, or wine stewards, Shultz said.
"Jason and I have both passed our first levels, so we know how much work and learning go into the courses," she said.
"There are still three more levels for us to do until we can be masters, and I’m not certain we’ll be getting to that level," Ornstein said with a laugh.
In addition to the courses and exams, the Wine and Food Classic will also present various wine seminars.
"Usually the seminars are presented by sales representatives, but this year we have a lot of winemakers and sommeliers who will be giving them," Schultz said. "That means we’ll have presidents and co-founders of wineries who will give presentations, and I was excited that these people wanted to come to Park City to educate people. This is a big deal."
A number of Park City restaurants have collaborated with the festival to present winemakers dinners.
"We have developed an excellent partnership with restaurants in Park City and together, with the winemakers, they have created amazing food and wine experiences," Schultz said.
"We have had a demand for these dinners over the years and I think Katie has done a great job coordinating the events this year," Ornstein said. "We have five or six different winemaker dinners scheduled throughout the week and we’re trying to add more events to make the festival a better experience for our patrons.
"Along that note, what makes the Park City Food and Wine Classic different than other wine festivals is that we try to integrate the lifestyles of the people in Park City," he said. "We’ll have a mountain biking session with a winemaker, which will culminate with a wine and food luncheon at Stein Eriksen Lodge and we will also do some hiking seminars and give the participants some backpacks and put them on trails. In the middle of the hike, they’ll have a lunch that has been paired with wine."
The idea is to get festival participants outside and active.
"There is a lot to be said of the classroom settings with the seminars, but we also want to get the participants to burn some calories to make some room for more food and wine," Ornstein said with a laugh.
The eighth annual Park City Food and Wine Classic will be held from Thursday, July 5, through Sunday, July 8, at various locations in Park City. The event, which kicks off at St. Regis Deer Valley, at 6 p.m., will feature wine tasting, dinners, winemaker seminars, an introductory sommelier course with the Court of Masters Sommelier America and biking and hiking activities. Tickets and information are available http://www.parkcityfoodandwineclassic.com . A portion of the proceeds will benefit the People’s Health Clinic.