By Ben Olson
Winos, winers, oenophiles, grape nuts and vino enthusiasts, get ready for a weekend especially dedicated to that magical nectar of the gods.
The Schweitzer Mountain Northwest Winefest is back for its second year. Due to the popularity of the inaugural event last year, a second day has been added to the itinerary. Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, will see the greatest congregation of wine drinkers this side of Napa Valley, all united under their common love for the grape.
With 20 regional wineries serving up over 80 different varieties, five bands, a craft beer tent, a sizzling barbeque, arts and crafts vendors and all of your favorite village activities, there’s fun to be had for everyone this weekend. And the best part, as always—it’s 100 percent free to attend.
Both Pend d’Oreille Winery and Small House Winery will represent Bonner County at this year’s Winefest.
“We had so many people come up for 7B Sunday, that said ‘I haven’t been up here in years,’” said Dig Chrismer, marketing manager for Schweitzer Mountain Resort. “Well, here’s another chance to come up and enjoy the music, wine and activities. We’re not that far away!”
The fun starts Saturday at 10 a.m. with the Schweitzer Mountain Trail Run. A local favorite, the Trail Run kicks off from the Village and features great single track with lake and mountain views. The Great Escape Uphill Challenge starts at 10:05 a.m. The 10 Mile starts at 10 a.m. and the 3.5 mile starts at 10:15 a.m. All races have a mandatory pre-race meeting at 9:45 a.m., and registration for all races will take place by the tennis courts from 8-9:30 a.m.
After you’ve run yourself out, grab a lawn chair and plop down on the grass for a day of wine and music. It’s free to listen to music on the lawn, though there are no outside alcoholic beverages allowed on the mountain. That’s okay, Schweitzer has you covered.
To participate in the wine tasting, stop by the sales tent and purchase your stemless souvenir wine glass with tasting tickets. The wine glass with 10 one-ounce tasting tickets will run you $20. Additional tasting tickets are $3 for two tickets. Premium wines require two tickets per ounce.
Feel like taking a ride to the top of the world? The chairlift opens at 11 a.m. and unlimited rides normally run $15 for foot traffic and $25 for mountain bikes. However, it being a festive weekend, Schweitzer is offering unlimited rides at 20 percent off—$12 and $20 respectively.
The live music kicks off at 11 a.m. with Brenden McCoy (of local duo Owen & McCoy). The Nicole Lewis Band will play at 1:30 p.m and Norman Baker and the Backroads will finish off the day from 4-7 p.m.
Why settle for one day of fun when you can double down on Sunday at Schweitzer? The second round of the cross country mountain bike races will take place, with the route slated to head out to Wolf Ridge.
Day two of Winefest will start at 11 a.m. with live music from Brown Salmon Truck, featuring local blues master Truck Mills. Fan favorites Milonga will be rocking the Village from 2-5 p.m.
“Milonga was with us last year,” said Chrismer. “They were absolutely perfect for drinking wine and dancing. They have this Latin-infused swing that is really incredible.”
There will be barbeque and food vendors available both days, as well as all the fun Village activites like the Monkey Motion air jumper, zip lines, climbing wall, disc golf and much more.
For more information about the big weekend of festivities, call Schweitzer at 263-9555. The Gateway Lot features complimentary parking while the Lakeview Lot will cost $10 per vehicle. Also, RV camping is available in the Gateway Lot for $20 per night.