Over the years, I’ve attended many high-end wine and food festivals, including the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, Taste of Vail, Auction Napa Valley, and the Oregon International Pinot Noir Celebration. Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the Colorado Mountain Winefest for the first time and can say, unequivocally, that our state’s wine festival beats all the others in terms of friendliness, accessibility, and homegrown fun.

This year’s event, scheduled for September 16 to 19, will include a seminar on food-and-wine pairing; a Riedel glassware demonstration and tasting (yes, the shape of the glass does matter); an extravagant chocolate-and-wine tasting sponsored by Enstrom Candies; and the focal point of the weekend: a daylong wine festival in the park, featuring 56 Colorado wineries. There’s also a golf-and-wine kickoff reception on Thursday evening and a vineyard bike tour on Saturday morning.

New this year is a cooking demonstration and dinner with chef Kelly Liken, owner of Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, and a current contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef.

Tip: Many individual seminars and events are likely to sell out, so plan your trip early.