Brett Zimmerman, owner of Boulder Wine Merchant, founded the Boulder Burgundy Festival five years ago and has seen it grow every year. Jonathan Castner/For BizWest

Festival expanding to toast food as well as wine

BOULDER — Five years ago, the Boulder Burgundy Festival was a smaller gathering of mostly food and wine industry professionals who celebrated what they love.

Since then, it has expanded to become a Boulder community event, and its growth is but one symptom of Boulder’s expanding food and drink industry, said Brett Zimmerman, a master sommelier, owner of Boulder Wine Merchant and the festival’s founder.

At the festival’s inception, its founders chose to focus on wines from the Burgundy region of France because of their traditional inaccessibility. Some top-quality chateaus in Burgundy produce only from 50 to a couple hundred cases of their best wine per year, Zimmerman said. That’s in contrast to Bordeaux — France’s largest wine-growing region — where some chateaus make from 10,000 to 20,000 cases a year.

Burgundy also was an aesthetic choice, said George Berg Jr. of the law firm Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti LLP, which underwrites the festival each year.

“Burgundy was a choice of what represented the very best of French wine,” he said. “Burgundy has gotten to where it’s thought of at least on a level with Bordeaux, and perhaps even a little more fondly in terms of demand across the world.”

The festival is expanding its size and scope, with a constant focus on the Boulder community. It’s partnering with restaurants such as the Flagstaff House, Frasca, Oak and PMG. It’s bringing in wine from estates such as the Bonneau du Martray and the Dujac. It will seat just less than a thousand people — up from 600 last year — and its sponsors will be local.

Zimmerman said the festival always has tried to build through community sponsors, as opposed to a food and wine festival such as Aspen’s, which attracts national and international sponsors. The emphasis on local businesses ties the festival to the community, and it provides a strong networking opportunity.

“Beyond having a very strong penchant for quality Burgundy wine, it has been a great opportunity for us to associate our law firm name with people that are in the food and wine business,” Berg said.

Now, Zimmerman and Berg want to use the festival to bring more attention to Boulder’s food and drink industry, which they said has expanded organically over the past two decades. Next year, Zimmerman said, the event will be known as the Boulder Food and Wine Festival.

Boulder has an impressive culinary resume. It’s home to five master sommeliers, according to the Court of Master Sommeliers, but Berg and Zimmerman have bigger ideas. They want Boulder to be known as the food capital of Colorado — and more; Berg said it could compete with cities such as Paris and New York.

“It has developed more than just a budding cottage industry,” he said. “It has become a very dynamic industry of its own. We believe that the demand is here, the market is here, the desire for education is here.”

The festival gives back to Boulder in other ways as well. It has charitable partnerships with the Growe Foundation, which educates children on eating healthy and environmental stewardship, and with the Davis Phinney Foundation, which provides services to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease.

The festival also is establishing a series of sommelier scholarships for the Boulder area, including one for female sommeliers that should help close the gender gap in the wine industry. According to the Court of Master Sommeliers, only 23 of the 147 master sommeliers in North America are women.

All that, essentially, is the festival’s goal.

“It’s about education, it’s about enjoying food and wine, it’s about celebrating the people and the regions of the world that make great wine,” Zimmerman said, “and at the end of the day, having fun and adding to what we do in the community.”


If you go

Tickets to the Boulder Burgundy Festival may be purchased at www.boulderburgundyfestival.com.

 Thursday, Oct. 22

Champagne and Caviar Kickoff Party

Featuring live music.

CU Koenig Alumni Building

5 to 7:30 p.m.

$75 per ticket

 Friday, Oct. 23

Best Value Burgundy Wines Lunch

Oak Restaurant

11:30 a.m.

$95 per person all-inclusive (90 seats available)

Old and Rare Burgundy Seminar

With master sommeliers Jay Fletcher, Brett Zimmerman and Sean Razee, and featuring a selection of wines from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

Proceeds go to the Guild of Sommeliers.

St Julien Hotel

1 to 2:30 p.m.

$295 per person (42 seats available)

Domaine Dujac Dinner

Food and wine service by a team from the Little Nell in Aspen, featuring a vertical tasting of wines from the domaine preceded by a champagne reception and a selection of rare white Burgundy.

The Academy

6 p.m.

$395 per person all-inclusive (50 seats available)

 Saturday, Oct. 24

Paulée Inspired Lunch

With a team of the nation’s top sommeliers and featuring more than 50 wines from Burgundy.

Proceeds go to Davis Phinney Foundation.

Flagstaff House

11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

$195 per person all-inclusive (120 seats available)

Domaine Bonneau de Martray Dinner

With winemaker Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière, and featuring a vertical tasting of wines from the domaine.

Proceeds go to the Learning Center.

Frasca Food and Wine

6 p.m.

$435 per person all-inclusive (78 seats available)

 Sunday, Oct. 25

Sit-Down Chablis Brunch

With the wines of Kermit Lynch and special guest Lyle Railsback

PMG Restaurant

10 a.m.

$75 per person all-inclusive (50 seats available)

Seminar: “A tour of Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru”

With Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière (Bonneau du Martray)

and wine writer Ray Isle of Food and Wine Magazine), featuring a vertical tasting from the domaine.

St Julien Hotel

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

$150 per person (80 tickets available)

Grand Tasting

Featuring more than 200 wines from Burgundy.

Proceeds go to Groove Foundation.

St Julien Hotel

3 to 6 p.m.

$85 per person (200 tickets available)

BOULDER — Five years ago, the Boulder Burgundy Festival was a smaller gathering of mostly food and wine industry professionals who celebrated what they love.

Since then, it has expanded to become a Boulder community event, and its growth is but one symptom of Boulder’s expanding food and drink industry, said Brett Zimmerman, a master sommelier, owner of Boulder Wine Merchant and the festival’s founder.

At the festival’s inception, its founders chose to focus on wines from the Burgundy region of France because of their traditional inaccessibility. Some top-quality chateaus in Burgundy produce only from 50 to a couple hundred cases of their best wine per year, Zimmerman said. That’s in contrast to Bordeaux — France’s largest wine-growing region — where some chateaus make from 10,000 to 20,000 cases a year.

Burgundy also was an aesthetic choice, said George Berg Jr. of the law firm Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti LLP, which underwrites the festival each year.

“Burgundy was a choice of what represented the very best of French wine,” he said. “Burgundy has gotten to where it’s thought of at least on a level with Bordeaux, and perhaps even a little more fondly in terms of demand across the world.”

The festival is expanding its size and scope, with a constant focus on the Boulder community. It’s partnering with restaurants such as the Flagstaff House, Frasca, Oak and PMG. It’s bringing in wine from estates such as the Bonneau du Martray and…