When I say “skiing,” you say … wine? Several states known for their incredible slopes and lighter-than-air powder are also diving into the wine industry with some surprising results.
Colorado leads the pack with over 100 wineries and a 27 percent increase in wine production in the last five years. Colorado takes its western roots seriously, abandoning conventional winemaking rules to try its hand at making all kinds of wines, from classic chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon to less common viognier and malbec. From big cities like Denver to upscale resort towns like Telluride, sommeliers are experimenting with wines offered in restaurants and retail stores to create some of the most innovative wine lists in the country.
Utah, home of ethereal snow powder, has a state-controlled wine industry and so is further behind Colorado in winery growth, but it is still forging ahead. Several wineries now exist in southern Utah, where varieties such as merlot and cabernet sauvignon thrive. Salt Lake City has welcomed its first urban winery, Kiler Grove, and its first wine bar, BTG Wine Bar, in the past two years. Restaurants are getting into the game, with passionate sommeliers creating unique and exciting wine lists, such as the Stein Eriksen Lodge’s Glitretind Restaurant in Park City, which boasts a 10,000 bottle cellar.
Wyoming faces even bigger challenges than Utah when it comes to growing grapes and making wine--it has the fewest number of wineries of any state (four), and the shortage of vineyard workers is so severe that Table Mountain Vineyard, the largest producer in the state, has brought in the local high school girls’ basketball team to help with pruning in the past. Despite these hurdles, the state is investing in the wine industry, and a team at the University of Wyoming is dedicated to discovering which grape varieties grow best in this desert climate. Jackson Hole is the center of Wyoming’s wine culture, including Jackson Hole Winery, the Jackson Hole Wine Auction, and dozens of restaurants, from fancy to family-style, which have developed extensive and original wine lists.
Most ski resorts in these states stay open through the early spring, allowing skiers to take advantage of sunny skies while flying down the slopes. Just imagine a day of skiing followed by dinner overlooking the moon-lit slopes, a glass of local wine in your hand...We’re there!
Have you had a great wine experience in a spring skiing state? Tell us here.