The 24th annual Taste of Vail food and wine festival is now underway. Amid Vail’s beautiful snow-covered slopes, the world’s top wineries, Belgian beers, spirits and Vail’s best restaurants have joined together to produce four days of gourmet events. From wine tastings, food pairings and cigar tastings to cook-offs and smackdowns, its a haven for foodies and wine connoisseurs.

USA Today sponsored the 2013 Debut of Rosé on the first day of the festival. Dozens of wineries from all over the world participated in the event in which attendees were able to taste a wide variety of rosé wines including sparkling rosés. Bob Iantosca, executive winemaker at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma, Calif., was on hand at the Gloria Ferrer table where he was pouring tastings of two of the winery’s sparkling wines, including the delicious Brut Rosé, which is produced in small quantities and is exclusively sold to Gloria Ferrer’s wine club members. “We want to keep the wine special, which is why it is made in such small quantities,” says Iantosca.

“I always look forward to coming up to Vail for the festival,” says Iantosca (see photo below). “It is a great event and I get to see all kinds of people. It is incredible how many people return year after year. I have been coming up here for years and when I run into people, it is like bumping into old friends. Some of the attendees have developed relationships with the people from the wineries who come year after year. Our winery has been involved since the beginning and I have been to the festival at least half a dozen times.”

The Whispering Angel rosé wine was also very impressive. Paul Chevalier, the France-based National Fine Wine Director for Shaw-Ross, its international importer, explained the rosé is produced by Chateau D’Esclans, which is located approximately 20 kilometers north of Saint-Tropez. “We produce rosés exclusively, so we do not make red or white wines,” says Chevalier. “We use grenache grapes. One of the key secrets of our wine is that we pick by hand, we crush the grapes and then we let it soak in stainless steel for just about five hours. So the color is extremely light, but light in color does not mean light in flavor. The wine is extremely dry and has zero sugar. Making wine like this is very innovative.”

According to Chevalier, rosé is becoming very trendy in the U.S., but it is already incredibly popular in France. “Rosé wine consumption for the whole country of France has surpassed the whites,” says Chevalier. “So we actually drink more rose in France than white wine.”

About 100,000 cases of Whispering Angel is produced each year. According to Chevalier, Whispering Angel is the number one rosé in the U.S. It is available for purchase at most wine shops in all the major markets at a retail price of $20. “It is a great food wine and goes great with salad and light fare to sushi, spicy Thai dishes, and barbeque,” adds Chevalier.

“This is a fun event,” says Chevalier. “To see all these rosé wines under this tent in Vail in April is quite something. Who would have imagined this ten years ago.”

Photos by Sarah Hamilton Shook and Carrie Coolidge

Bob Iantosca, executive winemaker at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

Bob Iantosca, executive winemaker at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

Kathy Harshbarger, Wine Club/E-Commerce Manager at Gloria Ferrer

Kathy Harshbarger, Wine Club/E-Commerce Manager at Gloria Ferrer