Wine Festival of Colorado Springs: The Tasting Will Be Grand

A good cause, celebrity chef Marc Murphy and 300 exceptional wines—don’t miss drinking to that at the Wine Festival of Colorado Springs.

Sniff. Sip. Nibble. Repeat. And repeat and repeat if you attend the Wine Festival of Colorado Springs’ Grand Tasting, that is.

Thirty distributors and 30 restaurants will be on hand, says Elizabeth Youngquist, who has chaired the event’s committee almost 20 years. “You could taste 300 wines.”

Youngquist laughs. “You can’t, but you could.”

The annual event, which started 25 years ago as a small, one-day affair for the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre, now spans three days and six events. This is the third year it will benefit the Colorado Springs Conservatory, which offers performing arts training to students 4 to 18.

Events offered this year include wine seminars, a wine-paired luncheon, appearances by favorite winemakers of years past, a Grand Tasting and a gourmet dinner hosted by the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort.

The 25th Annual Wine Festival of Colorado Springs

When: March 10–12

Where: The Broadmoor Hotel, the Garden of the Gods Club, and the Mezzanine

Tickets: $40-$200; 719-577-4556,

Do Good: Proceeds benefit the Colorado Springs Conservatory.

Highlight: Chef Marc Murphy, Chopped judge and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants

YPs: Watch for special pricing at

And for the first time in the history of the event, a celebrity chef will prepare that six-course meal with wines paired by the featured vintners: Chef Marc Murphy of Food Network’s Chopped and owner-chef of Benchmarc Restaurants in New York City.

That’s a bit unusual. Restaurants don’t usually allow outside chefs to take over the kitchen, regardless of their pedigree.

“We are proud to host the conservatory’s annual wine pairing,” says General Manager Laura Neumann, “in an effort to give back a small token of what the conservatory has given Colorado Springs.”

The dinner also features a live auction of rare and collectible wines and lifestyle packages.

“Every year we have added or stepped things up just to grow,” says Youngquist, who adds that the events typically sell out. “This will put it over the top.”

With about 1,500 attendees, the wine festival is now the conservatory’s largest fundraising event. Over the past two years, it has raised more than $100,000 for the performing arts school, says Linda Weise, conservatory founder and CEO. That means a lot, she goes on, because their mission allows children who might never be exposed to the arts a chance to explore themselves creatively.

“Why should we care about that? Because it’s so obvious that if we don’t care about art and culture, it’ll go away,” Weise says. “Children are the key. For everything really.”

—by T.D. Mobley-Martinez

Meet Marc Murphy

chef Marc Murphy
Marc Murphy. Photo courtesy Benchmarc Restaurants.

Marc Murphy will be the Wine Festival of Colorado Springs’ first guest chef, March 10–12.

The son of a diplomat, Murphy was well-traveled by the time he turned 12. When a career as a race car driver proved unlikely, he turned to cooking and worked with some of the world’s most respected chefs and restaurateurs, including Alain Ducasse in Paris and Sylvain Portay in New York City.

Since opening his first restaurant, Landmarc, in 2004, he has launched four more in New York City, including Ditch Plains, Kingside and Grey/Salt. Still, many will probably recognize Murphy from his appearances on Food Network’s Chopped, Iron Chef America and other culinary television shows. He published his first cookbook in 2015, Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking.


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