The Best Wine Regions for Ski Vacations

A skiier in a bright red jacket mid-jump, with a cheering crowd and lodgein the background
Outside Cloud Nine in Aspen / Photo by Tomas Zuccareno

Whether you fantasize about fresh powder, challenging moguls or half-pipes, ski and snowboard season doesn’t mean you have to give up great wine. Ski towns and resorts in the U.S. have come a long way with their wine lists, and if you’ve ever hit the mountains in Europe, you know that slope-side sips and après-ski are as important as the sport itself. Here are eight destinations that incorporate local wines and great drinks.

Four people in winter clothes drinking wine and beer
Relaxing outside Cloud Nine on Aspen Mountain / Photo by Dan Bayer

Aspen, Colorado

This legendary destination has a split personality. In some circles, Aspen is the ritzy, high-priced locale that lures beautiful people who don haute-fur trapper hats and enjoy $125 Veuve Clicquot Champagne showers at Cloud Nine. But it’s also a serious destination for food and wine, a reputation long established by hotel The Little Nell and its 20,000-bottle wine cellar.

There’s plenty to drink around town, and there’s also Colorado bottlings from which to choose. Element 47 at The Little Nell, has offered a Cinsault from Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez, and a Tempranillo from Alfred Eames Cellars in Paonia. Other spots for a glass include the St. Regis Aspen, Jimmy’s Aspen, Meat and Cheese and Ajax Tavern near the gondola, replete with fabulous people-watching.

A white and black storefront, mound of snow in foreground
Photo courtesy of Uncorked Wine Bar

Lake Tahoe, California

Launch off a black diamond slope to views of shimmering Lake Tahoe below makes skiing this area’s top resorts a singular pleasure. Two of the bigger resorts north of the lake are Squaw Valley and Northstar, with the surrounding towns of Truckee and Tahoe City offering affordable accommodations. Wherever you stay or ski, there’s plenty to drink—it’s California, after all.

Après-Ski Cocktails to Channel Winter Delight

For warmth and people-watching, the firepits around Squaw Valley are unbeatable. At Northstar Village, head to the ice skating rink. A slew of restaurants and bars encircle a 9,000-square-foot skating center. Nearby, The Grille at Sawtooth Ridge stocks an excellent California wine selection, as does the castle-like The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Uncorked Wine Bar has several locations around the North Shore and Truckee and offers flights and Meet the Winery dinners. Tahoe Pourhouse in South Lake specializes in wine on tap.

Falafel and fixings wrapped up in a white pita with a fresh side salad
Photo courtesy of River City Saloon

Mount Hood, Oregon

If you want to ski a glacier, head to Mount Hood. If you want to drink Oregon wine, head to Mount Hood. The state’s year-round, snow-kissed mountain is convenient to the wineries of Columbia Gorge. There are 30 operations and more than 45 vineyards nearby, making for plenty to drink both at the wineries and tasting rooms of Hood River.

Head to one of five ski areas, including popular Timberline, Meadows or the vast Skibowl for night runs. Drop by the Alpenstube restaurant in the South Lodge at Meadows for after-ski fun, then head down to Hood River, where the party continues. The River City Saloon pairs live music with local drinks, and the Pines 1852 and Naked Winery tasting rooms are steps away.

Snow-covered vineyard overlooking Lake Okanagan
A winter wonderland around Lake Okanagan / Getty

Okanagan Valley, Canada

Okanagan Valley, in British Columbia, has earned acclaim for its dry red and white wines. From taut Riesling to vibrant Pinot Noir, the region is one of Canada’s warmest for ripening grapes. But its mountain framework also provides perfect conditions for snow sports, as each wine-growing area is blessed with its own ski complex.

British Columbia's Budding Wine Scene

A 40-minute drive from Kelowna leads to Big White Ski Resort, which courts skiers and boarders with just under 2,800 acres of terrain. In Lake Country, SilverStar Mountain Resort has the closest chairlift. Near the Naramata Bench wineries is Apex Mountain Resort. And in the south valley, around Olive and Osoyoos, Mount Baldy Ski Area attracts locals and tourists alike. As Grant Elio Biggs, winemaker for Kitsch Wines, puts it, “grapes and groomers go hand-in-hand in the Okanagan Valley.”

Snow-covered craggy mountains
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy / Getty

The Dolomites, Italy

Sun, snow and majestic mountains: the perfect combo for an Italian ski getaway. Of course, food and wine are also key. Located in the north, the culture of the Trentino and Alto Adige region is an Austro-Italian mash-up, as seen in the Tyrolean speck- and spaetzle-heavy cuisine.

There are several villages to use as a base, all rich with Aperol spritz après-ski opportunities. Regional sips, from the bubbles of Trentino to Pinot Grigio, Lagrein and Pinot Nero (Noir) of Alto Adige, populate wine lists. If you head to Val Gardena for the well-known Sella Ronda circuit, stop for a wine-, salume- and carb-fueled lunch at Rifugio Emilio Comici. Piz Seteur is a small hotel with a big deck that draws lively post-run crowds. In the chic resort town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, sample pours from a selection of Italian labels at Enoteca Cortina.

Outdoor patio with rows of tables, snow-covered mountains in the distance
Photo courtesy of Le Relais de l’Aiguille

Haute-Savoie, France

Skip the glitz, glamour and Moët-guzzlers of Courchevel for this underrated ski and wine region. Of course, the French have long known about this Alpine nook that kisses the Swiss and Italian borders. Grapes include Jacquère, a light white that’s crisp like the mountain air; floral and fruity Altesse; and Mondeuse, a crunchy Alpine red. All match the Savoyard classic dish: day-old bread dunked in melted Comté fondue.

These specialties can be found in mountain towns like La Clusaz. On the slope, enjoy views with a glass at Le Relais de l’Aiguille. After the slopes, head to the terrace at rustic après ski hub Les Caves du Paccaly. Warm up with cheese-laden potatoes and carafes of wine at La Ferme. Stop by La Braise, a wine bar popular with locals, then grab a fireside table at La Scierie.

Light wood and black leather-themed bar
Photo courtesy of Hotel Almhof Schneider

Lech am Arlberg, Austria

Lech is home to some of the best alpine skiing and among the greatest Alpine wine cellars in Austria. Hotel Almhof Schneider’s enviable wine cache is patronized by international sommeliers and winemakers. The wine show at Burg Vital is run by Maximilian Lucian and Head Sommelier Michael Boauer. There are many spots for lunch or après-ski with Austrian wines, both midway down the mountain at Rud-Alpe, and at the base, Skihütte Schneggarei.

Mountains under thick snow, above the cloud line
View from the top of Cerro Catedral Resort / Getty

Cerro Catedral, Argentina

Any powder hound knows that when it’s summer in North America, it’s winter down south. The Andes have some of the greatest slopes in the Southern Hemisphere, and Cerro Catedral is one of the best. In Argentina’s Lake District, Cerro has been called the “Budget Tahoe.” On the mountain, book a table at cozy La Cueva for bone-warming dishes like lamb in Malbec served next to a crackling fire. Get there by quad or snowmobile.

Down in Bariloche, Argentina’s main ski town, go for après-ski at wine bars La Cava Catedral and Almacen dos Vinos. The latter doubles as a wine shop. Pick up Malbec and Torrontés for a post-prandial sip in your hotel room. For contemporary Argentine food and wine, book lakeside Cassis or newcomer Anima.

Published on January 25, 2019
Topics: Travel
About the Author
Lauren Mowery
Contributing Editor, Travel

Lauren Mowery is an award-winning writer, photographer, and blogger who has contributed wine- and spirits-related travel content to publications like Fodors.com, Lonely Planet, Voyeur (Virgin Australia’s inflight publication), Forbes, USA Today, Men’s Journal and TimeOut, among others. Pursuing her Master of Wine certification, she has also been a regular wine and spirits writer for Tasting Panel, Somm Journal, Punch and SevenFifty Daily. Mowery is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Fordham Law School, and transitioned from a Manhattan law career to wine via a role with the wine group at Gilt Taste. Today, she spends nearly six months of her year on the road. Email: lmowery@wineenthusiast.net



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