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Vine and Dine Wine Festival returns to Big Sky

Story and photos by Christopher J. Davies EBS Contributor

I’ve been writing about wine for 15 years. This journey has taken me around the world several times to world-famous wine regions as well as lesser-known growing areas.

Until recently, we’ve learned most of what we know from vintners, winemakers, and other writers and wine book authors. Many writers have made their bones this way and frown upon wine certification programs. Their biggest excuse for not getting certified is that they don’t plan on working in a restaurant.

While I don’t plan on seeking a restaurant job anytime soon, I do spend quite a bit of time in restaurants eating and drinking wine. I love chatting with sommeliers about their wine programs and favorite pairing suggestions.

The Court of Master Sommeliers is an elite organization of the world’s consummate wine professionals. North America has only 147 master sommeliers – 124 men and 23 women – out of 229 worldwide. Becoming a master sommelier requires a tremendous commitment of time and effort. Just watch the documentary “Somm” to grasp what it takes to land in this prestigious group.

My wife and I were greatly honored by the invitation to attend the inaugural Vine and Dine Wine Festival last August. We were interested in attending because we learned it would be co-hosted by master sommeliers Jay Fletcher and Fred Dame, considered America’s “godfather” of master sommeliers, and the first American to earn the master sommelier title.

Big Sky Resort’s 2014 Vine and Dine Festival was extremely well done, organized to become a preeminent annual wine and food festival.

Past Pairsine winning dish by Chef Lon Symensma of Cholon Asian Bistro in Denver, Colo.

Past Pairsine winning dish by Chef Lon Symensma of Cholon Asian Bistro in Denver, Colo.

We attended a great number of wine and culinary events that showcased Big Sky’s chefs and culinary programs, with wines from approximately 20 wineries across the country. The 2015 schedule is similar but includes several enhancements.

This year I’ve teamed up with Big Sky Resort for my company’s signature culinary competition – Pairsine Chefs Fine Food and Wine on Aug. 13 at the resort’s Peaks Terrace to kick off the four-day festival.

Ten Big Sky area chefs will compete to create 20 different gourmet food pairings with premium wines. If you’re a foodie, this is your event. Visit for a full list of chefs and restaurants.


New for 2015

• Tasting Seminar – Riedel Glass
• Picnic Lunch and Pinot Pairing
• Pinot on the Peak at 11,166 feet
• Vintners dinners

Big Sky Resort has a world-class culinary team led by Food and Beverage Director Tom Nolan, as well as Food and Beverage Manager Steve Merlino.

Merlino is the driving force behind Big Sky Resort’s Vine and Dine concept, and has been able to select and lure some of the best talent in the wine industry. His focus on details is apparent, even insisting on using Riedel glassware for all events.

With its spectacular beauty, the Big Sky Resort Vine and Dine Festival will continue to attract top presenters and master sommeliers. With so many wine festivals each year in the U.S., this one offers an intimate and spectacular location for serious wine lovers.

Christopher J. Davies is based in Colorado. He is the cofounder of Wine Country Network and an internationally published photojournalist.

The 2015 Vine and Dine will be held August 13-16 from 6-9 p.m. Visit for schedule and tickets.

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