The first-ever El Paso County Wine Tasting and Winter Hobby Wine Competition will be held from 7-9 p.m. Saturday at the Bear Creek Nature Center, 245 Bear Creek Road.

Sponsored by El Paso County Community Services Department, the event is designed to provide citizens with the ultimate wine-tasting experience. The event encourages citizens 21 or older to sample commercial wines, enjoy light appetizers, live acoustic guitar music, explore nature exhibits and participate in the Winter Hobby Wine Competition awards competition.

About 50-100 people are expected to attend the event. El Paso County District Three Commissioner Stan VanderWerf and other local leaders will be present. Professional and amateur wine-growers and makers also will be in attendance.

Wine-tasting events provide enthusiasts with an opportunity to sample a range of wines. During these offerings citizens learn about wines and wine-making from fellow tasters and establish friendships with wine aficionados. Most importantly, residents can taste wine in the company of highly experienced individuals thereby providing participants with an interactive education.

The wine-tasting and awards ceremony was designed with the Winter Hobby Wine Competition in mind, said Theresa Odello, recreation coordinator for EPC Recreation and Cultural Services.

“We wanted to start a hobby wine competition for El Paso County. Many people who make their own wines only have the Colorado State Fair to enter their wines and get feedback, and we wanted to do something more local,” Odello said.

“We decided to invite the public in for a wine tasting event, so they can wander around the nature center in a different environment then what they would get during the day and get a chance to sample some wines.”

Participants can submit their wines for judging. During the award ceremony wine experts will talk about winemaking and how people can get the most out of their hobby.

EPC partnered with Fermentations Home Winemaking Center to assist with the competition. Established in 2011, Fermentations offers the best selection of winemaking and homebrew ingredient kits in Colorado Springs. Owner Tim Christensen and Odello will present the Hobby Wine Competition awards.

Because the event is an EPC competition, it was decided to hold the event in an county-related environment, Odello said. “The Bear Creek Nature Center provides a beautiful backdrop for this event,” Odello said.

Renowned Colorado musician Dave Patrick will enhance the festive atmosphere with an assortment of live classical and original acoustic guitar sounds. Patrick has played guitar instrumentals at various city locations, has produced albums and original Jazz/Brazilian/Mambo instrumentals with a drummer/keyboardist.

Everyone from novice wine enthusiasts to seasoned connoisseurs are encouraged to bring their palates to the nature center and mingle with like-minded wine enthusiasts. Attendees are encouraged to arrive on time to partake in the paired food and wine servings.

All proceeds benefit the Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers. The event also benefits the community in that it brings like-minded residents together if only for one night. “This event is something to do that will warm your belly on a cold Colorado winter night, and it gives people the opportunity to socialize, learn about wine, and visit the (Bear Creek Nature Center),” Odello said.

Cost is $20 per person and $15 for Nature Center members. Pre-registration is required online at elpasocountynaturecenters.com. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers. To learn more contact Odello at 520-6977.

Load comments