Wine tastings, a mountaintop picnic and a lamb cook-off at the Taste of Vail

Every year in April, hundreds of food lovers and oenophiles gather (or huddle, if the weather dictates it) in Vail for the glitzy resort town's annual spring fling of food and wine, which kicks off this Wednesday and continues through Saturday with wine seminars, wine dinners and Nordic wine tours, cooking demonstrations, a mountaintop picnic at 10,000 feet, an après-ski lamb cook-off in Vail Village (yours truly will be judging that) and Saturday night's blowout grand tasting and auction in the grand ballroom of the Vail Marriott.

See also: - Altitude-high food porn from the Taste of Vail - Kelly Liken didn't win Top Chef DC, but she's at the top of her game - An American Craft Spirit & Cocktail Showcase, an oyster extravagaza and more on this week's calendar

More than thirty Vail Valley chefs and fifty wineries from across the country participate in the Taste of Vail, and tickets are still available for individual events, including the mountaintop picnic (one of the coolest culinary adventures in Colorado, complete with snow-banked walls). Individual event prices run the gamut from $50 for the Nordic wine-and-cheese tour (inclusive of rental equipment) to $175 for the extravagant grand tasting; an all-inclusive pass is $495, which is a damn good deal -- and the weather this weekend promises to bring us a blast of summer.

In addition, several Vail Valley restaurants, including Restaurant Kelly Liken, Zino Ristorante, Vail Chophouse, Elway's, and the 10th, Vail's newest on-mountain dining destination, are hosting multi-course wine/Champagne dinners on Friday night.

To purchase tickets to individual events, or to buy a festival pass, go to www.tasteofvail.com.

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