Crested Butte Wine + Food Festival launches industry scholarship program

Festival runs July 17 through 21

By Katherine Nettles

The Center for the Arts’ largest annual fundraiser, the Crested Butte Wine + Food Festival, kicked off last weekend with a “Tour de Forks: Welcome back to camp!” wine and food pairing event. And with the main festival events approaching next week, the Center recently announced a scholarship program to make some of the events more inclusive to local foodies in the industry who may otherwise not be able to participate.

The festival runs Wednesday, July 17 through Sunday, July 21, with events stacked throughout each day including gourmet picnics, lake excursions, foraging hikes, bar takeovers, seminars, music performances, brunch and wine pairing dinners hosted at private homes. The Grand Tasting is Saturday, July 20, and the final event is a farewell “Sip and Screen Sunday,” with film selections and one last wine seminar. 

And for locals who work in the food and beverage industry, this year’s festival is more attainable than ever with the Center’s new Industry Scholarship Program. The program provides free and discounted seminar and event tickets to locals who are food and beverage professionals, underwritten with support from the Hermanson Family, Scarpetta Wines, Failla Wines and Synergy Fine Wines. According to the Center’s executive director Jillian Liebl, the goal is to elevate the valley’s food and beverage industry and provide local professionals with access to knowledge from experts in wine, spirits, food and hospitality. 

The Scholarship Program includes the Grand Tasting on Saturday, July 20, in which attendees have an opportunity to taste more than 200 wines and spirits, and free tickets to educational wine and spirits seminars on July 18 and 19, including “Mixology: Summer Mezcal + Tequila Cocktails” and “Women in Wine: Mixing Passion with Profession.”

The hope is to keep the program going each year, shares Liebl. 

“This is an incredibly busy time for our local food and beverage professionals,” she acknowledges. “We’ve had solid interest in the scholarship program thus far from locals, but hope that we’ll have even more sign up to attend events over the next week or so.”

CB Wine + Food Festival director Natalie Pfister Riha is also working on plans for other dinners, tastings, and culinary arts events this fall, winter and beyond to keep the programming going year-round. 

For more information about the program or to register, industry professionals can contact Riha at

Sunday’s kickoff event “Tour de Forks: Welcome back to camp!” at the Center featured an al fresco four-course dinner prepared by José chef Anastacia Quinones Pittman and wines from Napa Valley’s Chimney Rock estate. Attendees were then admitted with an additional pairing of wine to the Fab Four Beatles tribute band performance at the Center. The evening was an enthusiastic (and delicious) start to what has become a summertime staple in Crested Butte since the festival was established in 2008.

“We were so happy with the turnout and the excellent food, wine and music at our kickoff last weekend,” said Liebl. “Listening to these world class experts in their industry speak and share their knowledge and craft with our attendees is a rich experience for everyone involved.” 

Some events are already sold out, and those are noted on the festival website. The full festival schedule and more details can be found at 

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