Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest returns |

Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest returns

David Murray, Mike and Gayle Mortell and Christina Brusig toast the arts in celebration of the upcoming Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest.
Post Independent File Photo |

This weekend, attendees of the 15th annual Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest can sample signature dishes from local restaurants as well as more than 200 varieties of wine and beer, all while supporting the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts.

The festival is from 5-9 p.m. on Saturday at the Ramada Inn, which will be decorated to high class thanks to a $15,000 donation from Bethel Party Rentals.

“You’ll walk into this beautiful, classy space,” said Christina Brusig, executive director of the Center for the Arts. “There will be a sampling of restaurants from around the valley, primarily Glenwood, who will be serving signature dishes. You can come and taste all of the food that you would like all night. Then there are over 25 vendors with beer and wine. So probably there are over 200 drinks to try at the Brewfest, which is amazing. It’s such a good deal that you probably can’t go out to dinner in Glenwood for $45 and drink and eat to your heart’s content, and you can at this event.”

In addition to beer and wine from Roaring Fork Liquors, Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub, Roaring Fork Brewing, Two Rivers Winery, Plum Creek and dozens more vendors, the event will also feature a food demo with a chef from the 6th Street Bar and Grill preparing flautas and three signature sauces. Everyone present at the demonstration will have the chance to try the dish.

Brand new this year is Wine 101 Basics, a demonstration from a sommelier that will take place twice throughout the evening. Participants will learn how to smell and taste wine, what glasses are appropriate for what types of wine and where to find, locally, value brands comparable to their favorite high-end wines.

“So not only do you get to taste wine at the Brewfest, but then you get to taste wine and really learn how to taste it and how to smell it, which for some people, they don’t know,” Brusig said. “So it’s a look inside, and it helps when you’re planning parties or out buying glasses. ‘Oh, this one’s going to aerate it this much, and it’s going to make it taste better.’”

Another feature of the evening will be live music. From 5-7 p.m., ragtime pianist Brad Vierheller, who may be recognized from his performances at the Vaudeville, will perform. Then from 7-9 p.m., jazz musicians Chris Bank and Mark Johnson will close out the night.

Lastly, more than 100 items valued at more than $10,000 will be included in a silent auction.

“We have a Napa Valley vacation, we have tickets to the Black Keys, we have a Telluride condo, we have a limousine service, and local restaurants have donated gift certificates,” Brusig said. “And this year, we’re also going to be doing a live auction. So at about 8:15, we are going to take the key items, and Chris Bank is going to live auction them off so that we can get the best value. There is a lot going on in a four-hour period.”

The event is the center’s biggest fundraiser of the year, according to Brusig, with an annual net goal of $20,000. But Brusig hopes to raise even more this year.

She became the executive director in June after serving for seven years as the assistant director, and she has big dreams for the center.

“I want to expand our reach,” Brusig said. “I want people who don’t know about us to know about us. And this funding will help.”

The center’s reach is already wide. Not only does it offer competitively priced art and dance classes for people of all ages, but it also collaborates with area schools like Two Rivers Community School, Glenwood Middle School, Sopris Elementary School and Glenwood Springs Elementary School to provide art programming for students who may not be able to come to the Center for the Arts building.

And the building itself poses a whole other set of challenges.

“We have grown our programs so large that we can no longer offer programming in this building,” Brusig said of their space at 601 E. Sixth St. “So one of our goals is to actually find an annex building downtown and offer additional programming. Money from the Brewfest would really help us step into the right direction with that.”

The center put in a bid for the old Glenwood Springs Library building, but they won’t know if they’ll be given the space until after November.

“We have no more available times or space to offer classes, but the community has a huge need for them,” Brusig said. “So we are stepping in that direction of growing outward into the community. One of our challenges is our location. We’re tucked back here in what we call the corner of Glenwood. You can see us from the highway, but not everybody knows we’re here. So getting that visibility by having an annex location is one of our goals.”

Brusig said she’s grateful for the support the center has already received from the community, but she hopes be able to offer even more services to solidify art’s role in Glenwood Springs.

“When you think about supporting a nonprofit, it’s so easy of course to support human services and those types of efforts; they’re so very important,” Brusig said. “But I believe that art feeds the soul, and it’s important to support it. A strong community has a strong sense of art and culture. And that is one of the key reasons that I believe people should come to Culinary Arts. No matter what else it is in the nonprofit spectrum you support, if you believe Glenwood is a strong community, this is how you can help strengthen it more.”

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