The 2014 Park City Food & Wine Classic, held earlier this month, is now but a fading, wine-stained memory. I think it's safe to say that a good time was had by all; I sure enjoyed it.
This year, more than 100 wineries, breweries and distilleries were on hand with wares to sample, along with dozens more chefs, restaurateurs and food purveyors. It would be impossible to recount all of the interesting wines tasted, food enjoyed, people met and fun had, but here are a handful of highlights. Even if you missed the event, it's not too late to buy and try the wines and other goodies.
My favorite event of the Park City Food & Wine Classic is the Friday night Stroll of Park City, where festival-goers meander Main Street, pinballing between participating restaurants, bars, galleries and other venues hosting tastings of wine, beer and spirits. At one juncture, I found myself at Rock & Reilly's chatting with Eyrie Vineyards assistant winemaker Mike Eldred. The Eyrie story is worthy of an article itself, and I'll do that soon.
Talking with Eldred, I was intrigued to learn of the winery's Utah connections. Eldred is originally from Utah, and Eyrie's founder, David Lett, grew up in Holladay. He's known as "Papa Pinot" in wine circles, and pioneered Oregon winemaking after moving to the Willamette Valley in the winter of 1965. He planted the first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Valley, as well as America's first Pinot Gris. The Eyrie 2012 Original Vines Pinot Gris ($27.45) is a stunner! There are only seven cases in the state, so don't dilly dally.
A winery with an even firmer Utah connection is IG Winery, based in Cedar City. IG (for Iron Gate) is run by winemaker/partner Doug McCombs. During a fun wine dinner at the Goldener Hirsch Inn called Pork n' Cork, I got to pick McCombs' brain a bit and tasted my way through a range of 12 IG wines, which include Tempranillo, Roussanne, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and others.
It goes without saying that the "juice" doesn't come from Cedar City. Grapes for IG wines are sourced from a broad range of winegrowing regions, including Paso Robles, Columbia Valley, Willamette Valley, Lodi and Sonoma Valley. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the IG wines overall, most of which are priced in the mid-teens. The outstanding Iron Gate Tempranillo Paso Robles 2010 might exceed most people's budget at $35, but IG's Tempest Red—a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet, Syrah and Ruby Red—is a blast at a barbecue, and a steal at $13.95. IG's 2005 Tempranillo ($22.95) was a terrific match for Goldener Hirsch chef Ryan Burnham's spit-roasted pig.
Other highlights included Robert Sinskey's Vin Gris of Pinot Noir ($29.19), which I enjoyed sipping at High West Distillery—a summertime wine winner if ever there was one. Sinskey, too, has Utah roots: He loves to ski our Champagne powder, and owns property in Deer Valley. Ditto Joel Gott—who has a house in Park City—and whose Sauvignon Blanc ($10.99) is still, in my opinion, one of the best bangs-for-the-buck you'll find in the wine world. It's a pure, clean, beautiful expression of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal.
And let's not forget Fisher Winery. Juelle Fisher grew up in Holladay and attended Rowland Hall before founding Fisher Vineyards, which today produces some of Napa and Sonoma's best Cabernet and Chardonnay. Fisher Unity Rosé ($14.99) is the perfect summer sipper.