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Five rules to attending a Colorado summer wine festival

 We're already a few weeks into what can best be described as FESTIVAL SEASON. The caps indicate the mad-dash pace of the summer wine festival circuit that has us and the other 90 some-odd Colorado wineries bouncing from event to farmers' markets and back again.

Colorado wine festivals are unique and not in that typical "Colorado" fashion. The wine festival permit allows for us to actually sell wine to take home by the bottle or case. So enjoy the festive atmosphere, the free pours and the chance to buy wine direct from the source. And for those who are new to the circuit, here are five tips that'll get you through the season with a big, red-wine soaked smile this year.

1. Drink a lot ... of water.

Don't be that person, stuck in the corner of the festival, way too drunk for their own good. There's nothing wrong with a good buzz at a wine festival, but keep it under control. Drink a bottle of water or more every hour or so to keep you hydrated, while giving yourself a few moments to take a breather. Also, don't be afraid to use the spit buckets. They are there for a reason.

2. Have a plan of attack.

If you stay at a festival for five hours, your palate will be shot. There's no easy way around that. But if you want to truly explore some wine spend the first hour or two at the festival seeking out certain types of wine to keep your palate fresh. Attack bright, lively and dry rosés and whites first. Move onto a red flight next (keeping body in mind, Pinot to Zin). Hold off on the sweet stuff until after your reds. This will keeps your tongue reasonably responsive for a longer period of time.

3. Buy wine.

This seems like shameless self promotion, but the reality is many Colorado wineries rely on the summer festival circuit to sell a good portion of wine for the year. Not to mention, wineries donate all those free samples you enjoy on that gorgeous summer day. As we mentioned in our tasting room etiquette guide, don't buy something that you don't like, but please find a bottle or three of ones you do, and take them home.

4. Learn something.

Many festivals, Colorado Urban Winefest included, offer a bevy of FREE wine education. This can be in the form of chef demos, wine courses or interactive displays. Not to mention, there will literally be dozens of winemakers on hand. This is a prime opportunity to ask questions about wine in general or the cool things about Colorado grape growing.

5. Arrange for a ride.

Our first bit of advice touched on this, but we can't harp on it enough. Be safe when you come to a wine festival. It's pretty easy to get buzzed passed the legal driving limit. So arrange for transportation home, be it a designated driver (most festivals offer a cheaper non-drinker ticket), taxi or public transportation.

Festivals we plan on attending:

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