The drinks industry turned out in force to celebrate at Aspen Haus, a weekend-long activation at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado, cosponsored by SevenFifty Daily, SevenFifty, Verve Wine, and Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. More than 600 notable sommeliers, winemakers, importers, distributors, and others came by to mingle in an industry-only setting. Wines of Germany hosted a temporary tattoo and tasting station on both nights of the celebration, and poured wines from a dozen producers, including Leitz, Dönnhoff, and Schloss Johannisberg. Collectible glassware for the weekend was custom-printed by GoVino with illustrations of the hosts’ faces, adding to the fun.
The weekend got started with Aloha Friday, an evening luau that lasted into the wee hours, hosted by Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels and featuring fresh orchid leis flown in from Hawaii, with drinks curated by Compagnie’s wine director and managing partner, Caleb Ganzer, and its bar manager, Kypo Karamas, as well as a menu from executive chef Eric Bolyard. Hawaiian plate lunch favorites like roasted pig, macaroni salad, and octopus poke were hit offerings and were paired with a selection of Rieslings, New Belgium beers, and cocktails featuring Brown-Forman products, including a spicy Herradura Silver margarita, a Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned, and a take on a Prairie Fire shot made with Slane Irish Whiskey and smoked chile bitters from Hella Cocktail Co. Bodegas Artadi, Ah-So Wines, and Izar-Leku wines were also poured. Industry notables who joined in the revelry included DLynn Proctor of Fantesca Estate, Devon Broglie of Whole Foods, Thomas Pastuszak of Empire Estate and VINNY, sommelier Michael Engelmann, Jason Lede of Lede Family Wines, Andy Fortgang of Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon, Femi Oyediran and Miles White of Charleston’s Graft, and Carlin Karr of Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine.
Saturday started off with a “Sommakase” food-and-wine pairing experience event sponsored by Wines of Portugal. The tasting was hosted by Compagnie’s Caleb Ganzer and Eugénio Jardim, the U.S. ambassador for Wines of Portugal, along with producers from the country. A selection of rosés, whites, reds, and ports were paired with dishes prepared by Bolyard, including tuna belly conserva, charred morcilla skewers, and red wine–braised beef cheeks. Miles Trautman of Verity Wine Partners, sommelier Sarah Tracey, Eric Railsback of Verve Wine, Jamie Soriano of Krug, Wendy Shoemaker of Ruinart, and David Cohn of Dom Perignon were among the guests.
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The evening featured a South African–style braai , or barbecue, to showcase the new wave of South African wines. Winemakers on hand to grill traditional foods and pour their wines included Sebastian Beaumont of Beaumont Family Wines in the Overberg district; Graham Weerts of Capensis, which makes wines throughout the Western Cape; Adi Badenhorst of A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines in Swartland; Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines in Swartland; and Abrie Beeslaar of Beeslaar and Kanonkop Estate in Stellenbosch. The event was attended by dozens of guests, including Dwyane Wade, the former NBA player and owner of Wade Cellars; Leslie Sbrocco, host of the PBS series Check, Please!; and Jeff Porter, of Bastianich Hospitality Group.
The weekend was capped off with an epic, disco-fueled Saturday Night Fever event hosted by Dustin Wilson, MS, cofounder of Verve Wine, a retail shop with locations in New York City and San Francisco. Gianluca Bisol of Bisol 1542 welcomed guests with his brand’s Brut Prosecco. Guests included Abe Schoener of The Scholium Project, June Rodil of Goodnight Hospitality, Bobby Stuckey of Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine, Sabato Sagaria of Bartaco, Daniel Johnnes of Daniel Johnnes Selections and Dinex Group, Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg, Ira Harmon of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Michael Cruse of Cruse Wine Co., and Jason Hoy of Food & Wine. Along with hundreds of others, they danced until the early morning.
Chef Austin Johnson, formerly of Michelin-starred Frenchie in Paris, prepared an elevated comfort menu of glazed ribs, hush puppies, gumbo, and deviled eggs, which were accompanied by a far-ranging selection of bubbles. Johannes Leitz arrived late in the night to pour a six-liter bottle of Leitz Berg Schlossberg GG Riesling. Other highlights included a three-liter bottle of Alfred Gratien Brut Champagne and scores of magnums and 750 ml bottles provided by Champagne Henriot, Le Grand Courtage, Bouchard Père & Fils, Gloria Ferrer, Iron Horse Vineyards, and others. Cocktails featured several Haus Alpenz products, including a White Negroni made with Hayman’s London Dry gin, Salers Gentiane Aperitif, and Comoz Blanc Vermouth, and a Haus Negroni made with Hayman’s Royal Dock, Cappelletti Aperitivo, and Dolin Rouge Vermouth.
Product sponsors for the whirlwind event included Ah-So Wines, A.J. Adam, Bisol 1542, Bodegas Artadi, Broadbent Selections, Brown-Forman, Domaine Chapel, Domaine du Pelican, Dönnhoff, Empire Estate, Etienne Calsac, Freixenet Mionetto USA, Haus Alpenz, Hella Cocktail Co., Herradura Tequila, Hexamer, Iron Horse Vineyards, J. Lassalle, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants, Le Grand Courtage, Leitz, Louis Guntrum, Maisons & Domaines Henriot America, Maximin Grünhaus, Michel Gonet, New Belgium Brewing Company, No Fine Print, Noble Coyote, Nomikai, Peter Lauer, Premium Port Wines, Reichsrat von Buhl, Rise Brewing Co., Rootdown Wine Cellars, Saveiro, Schloss Johannisberg, Slane Irish Whiskey, Ten to One Rum, Veuve Fourny et Fils, Villa Wolf, VINNY, Wilson Daniels, Wines of Germany, Wines of Portugal, Wittman, Woodford Reserve, and Zonin USA.