Ageing beautifully

The Taos Winter Wine Festival

By Greg O'Byrne
Posted 1/30/20

The intimate Taos Winter Wine Festival continues to attract some of the world's best winery owners, winemakers and importers as is evident with the exciting 34th annual schedule beginning today (Jan. 30), and running through Saturday (Feb. 1).

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Ageing beautifully

The Taos Winter Wine Festival


The intimate Taos Winter Wine Festival continues to attract some of the world's best winery owners, winemakers and importers as is evident with the exciting 34th annual schedule beginning today (Jan. 30), and running through Saturday (Feb. 1).

The three days of events feature 40 world-class wineries networking with 24 great Taos restaurants, serving tastes and hosting events - seminars, luncheons, wine dinners and tastings. One of the unique features of the festival is that the winemaker or owner of the winery attends and pours for you at each event. They are here because they love to ski. And what's not to love about this year's snow and skiing?

Michael Bassler of North Berkeley Imports kicks things off today's afternoon event at the Sagebrush Inn with a Champagne and caviar tasting, featuring four different Champagnes from the pinot noir-centric Champagne house of Domaine Jean Vesselle. His friend, Chef Louis Moskow, of 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar, in Santa Fe, will be serving blinis and tater tots topped with crème fraîche and caviar along with other delectable bites.

The main event this evening, the Reserve Tasting, is also at the Sagebrush Inn in its elegant ballroom. All 40 wineries will be serving tastes alongside 12 of Taos' best restaurants - including Love Apple, Lambert's, Doc Martin's, De La Tierra, Aceq, Meldley, Common Fire, Gorge Bar & Grill, Palettes, Parcht, Sabroso and others. During the walk-around Reserve Tasting, a silent auction of 40 rare large format wines will be auctioned to benefit the Taos High School Culinary Arts program. Local artist Ed Sandoval, this year's featured artist for the Taos Winter Wine Festival, will also be in attendance, painting a unique picture as you snack around.

On Friday (Jan. 31) at the Taos Ski Valley, two seminars will be hosted in the Resort Center's Looking Glass Room. Daniel Vu from Heitz Wine Cellars in Napa will host a retrospective tasting of Heitz wines, including their Martha's Vineyard Cabernet. Vu loves to snowboard and has convinced his team in Napa to join this year.

New to the event this year is winemaker Chelsea Franchi from Tablas Creek, in Paso Robles, California, who will host a Friday seminar showcasing Tablas Creek's grenache grape in all glory and colors.

If you are on the mountain skiing on Friday, you won't want to miss the lamb roast and wine tasting featuring small plates from Common Fire, Aceq and Sagebrush on the deck of the newly remodeled Phoenix Grill. A power wine team - Brian Larky of Dalla Terra, Lyle Railsback of Kermit Lynch, Chris Barnes of Jose Pastor Selections, Scot Bilbro of Marietta and Morgan Twain Peterson of Bedrock - will be pouring wines from Italy, France, Spain and California for this one-of-a-kind ski-in, ski-out al fresco lamb and wine party.

At the end of the day on Friday, 12 of the attending wineries will pour their latest releases at an aprés-ski party hosted in the Taos Ski Valley's Martini Tree with bites from The Bavarian, Rhoda's and 192 at The Blake. It's a perfect way to transition from your day of skiing to your favorite wine dinner. A dozen of Taos' restaurants will host multiple course wine dinners with attending vintners, another intimate way to get to know the owners and taste their wines with them.

Saturday (Feb. 1) features three wine seminars in the Taos Ski Valley Resort Center. Pouring again this year are Robert Sinskey and Steve Matthiasson - two of Napa Valley's iconic winemakers who will join forces on Saturday afternoon prior to the Grand Tasting for a seminar on unique Napa wines and how they age. Jo Barrett will pour eight rarely seen wines from Chateau Musar, the estate in Lebanon. And William Davis of Wilson Daniels will host a sangiovese master class showing the different expressions of the grape between the Chianti house of Volpaia and the historic Brunello di Montalcino property of Biondi Santi.

One of the most popular events that started two years ago is the Salmon Bake featuring wines from Willamette Valley. Saturday's noon, outdoor, walk-around luncheon event below chair 1 in Taos Ski Valley has expanded this year to include grilled oysters from Blonde Bear Tavern, fresh shucked oysters from Taoseño favorite Joe Wrede of Joseph's Culinary Pub in Santa Fe and salmon tacos and salmon tartar from chef Shane Alexander of Quail Run. Five of Willamette's best pinot noir producers will be pouring - the father-son team of Michael Etzel Sr. and Mike Etzel Jr. of Beaux Frères and Sequitur fame; Brian O'Donnell, owner of Belle Pente; Evan Martin, the owner of Martin Woods Winery; and Nate Klostermann, the winemaker at Argyle.

All 40 of the wineries gather late on Saturday afternoon in the Taos Ski Valley Resort Center to pour wines at the Taos Winter Wine Festival's Grand Tasting. Another 12 of Taos' best restaurants serve tastes side by side, including Snakedance, Bavarian, Rhoda's, Cooking Studio Taos, Sabroso and 192 at The Blake.

Tickets to all events and a complete listing of wine dinners is available at


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