A Taste of the Unexpected
Steamboat Food & Wine Festival: Thursday, September 28 – Sunday, October 1, 2023
Steamboat Food & Wine Festival embraces and showcases Steamboat’s authenticity. The town’s bona fide western heritage and ranching history, beautiful mountains and rivers, and zest for outdoor recreation set the festival up for success. For event founder Nicole Jarman, the focus then shifts to good stewardship, cultivating curiosity and connection in the right spaces, and building out a schedule that allows guests to consciously navigate experiences.
What’s most important to Nicole is how everyone involved in the festival feels when it’s over. She’s referring to the town and residents, guests and patrons, winemakers, chefs, and outfitters. “My ethos is to try to figure out how to be a better steward to everyone,” Nicole explains. “We want to consider the motivation of the talent and let them have the experience they want or haven’t had yet or daily. We want to be thoughtful about why people are here.”
A few new concepts on this year’s schedule speak to this ethical value and sentiment, including hosting Thursday’s Welcoming Reception on the deck of Thunderhead Lodge at the top of the gondola. Due to Covid and Full Steam Ahead construction and improvement projects at the resort, the festival hasn’t been able to take advantage of the 9,000-foot panoramic view. This fall, guests can sip champagne and enjoy craft cocktails as the sun sets over the Yampa Valley below. From an elevated perspective, this is what fall in Steamboat looks and feels like.
Friday’s line up can’t be more innovative and artistic, rustic and rooted. Guests can start the day with a trip to Clark, just 45 minutes north of Steamboat, for a visit to Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch. The autumn outing begins with a western horseback ride through mountain meadows and aspen trees, and it ends with an open-air lunch of Wagyu, Whiskey & Wine. Alternative daytime options on Friday are available at downtown art galleries and shops hosting seminars on cocktails (think tiki, amaro, and the Old Fashioned) and Italian sparkling wine and high-country winemaking. For dinner, guests can opt for menus inspired by varied topics: how Latin American flavors can influence and pair perfectly for a quintessential Colorado ranch dinner; how food and comfort affect culture and community; and how external stimuli like art and music enhance the perception of taste.
2023 also introduces Saturday’s intimate morning excursion of Guided Fishing and Sipping on the Elk River followed by a massive Grand Tasting at the base of Steamboat Resort. The moveable feast takes place on the Torian Plum lawn, the Steamboat Square stage, and The Steamboat Grand hotel, and it features almost double the vendors from 2022 plus seminars and live music during tastings. Expect a curated demonstration along with educational and experiential offerings that include an East vs. West Coast Oyster Surf War, a crash course training called Tequila, Agave & Mezcal 101, and more than 100 wines and spirits to taste plus access to exclusive, hand selected vintages.
The event closes out with one last gathering around the table at the Yampa Street Brunch. It’s the time to come together in the heart of downtown Steamboat and say goodbye or see you next time to old or new friends. It’s the chance to keep the festival alive or start reminiscing.
There are inherently a lot of WOW! factors to Steamboat Food & Wine Festival 2023. Fall in Steamboat is crisp and colorful, and the typical tourist crowds are gone or yet to come. But the reason people should attend goes beyond the anticipated and inescapable beauty of the alpine setting. Nicole hopes the festival helps people understand that we’re all connected by food. We’re all rooted in food, food systems, and food values, and all ingredients tell stories.
Especially in Steamboat, it’s easy to see how growing and eating locally impacts lifestyles and livelihoods. Snowpack, drought, and wildfires are vivid examples that agriculture can be both tenuous and hardy. But while food is serious business and sustains life, it’s also fun and enjoyable! Human connection flourishes when we explore and indulge in new or exciting flavors together.
Steamboat Food & Wine Festival is an opportunity to rediscover the origin of the foods we eat, recognize the integrity of our food, and celebrate all that food can do for us. Nicole wants guests to leave Steamboat Food & Wine Festival having had the best food and wine they’ve ever had, and more importantly and maybe unexpectedly, feeling not full but fulfilled.
Learn more about the Steamboat Food & Wine Festival team, talent, schedule, and purchase tickets and packages here.
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