Picture a beautiful Italian vineyard. You’re probably thinking about gently rolling hills, cypress trees with the sparkling blue sea off in the distance. But think again. One of Italy’s best wine regions (and best-kept secrets) is found in the lush Alpine region of northern Italy where apple orchards and vines cling to the mountainsides and the vast range of the Dolomite Mountains is home to an impressive selection of ski resorts.
With this inspiration, we’ve rounded up nine amazing stateside ski destinations plus, of course, the perfect beverage to go with each — and what better wines to capture the aromas of crisp mountain air than the wines of the Alto Adige, and from one of its most respected producers, Kettmeir? The region was cultivating vines for winemaking as early as 15 B.C., though the winery was founded in 1919, when the area was annexed to Italy by Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I.
Crisp, clean air, compact gravelly soils and high-altitude slopes are attributes that contribute to both excellent ski conditions as well as grape-growing. The same is true for U.S. destinations, so even if you can’t make it to Europe this winter, you can still indulge like you’re in the Italian Alps.
Whether your vision of a perfect winter vacation consists of conquering black diamonds, enjoying après-ski activities, or lounging in the lodge, there’s a winter wonderland for you on this list — and, even better, a wine that will pair perfectly. Cheers!
California is home to some of the most naturally stunning areas in the country, and Lake Tahoe, which straddles the Nevada border, might just be the best. A too-blue-to-be-true pool surrounded by the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, it’s a truly magnificent #nofilter-needed destination and, with more than a dozen ski resorts, an enjoyable spot for ski bunnies and lodge dwellers alike. (We like Heavenly, which definitely lives up to its name.)
Place a bottle of Kettmeir Müller-Thurgau in the snow to chill while you hit the mountain, and then make your way to a waterfront spot and reward yourself with an aperitif and a view. Need a Müller-Thurgau primer? This grape, a crossing of Riesling and Madeline Royale, has aromatics of poached pear, baking spices, and a racy mineral finish, mimicking the glacial waters. If you didn’t know your coordinates, you might just mistake Lake Tahoe for a crystal-clear Alpine lake such as Lake Caldaro, its shores located less than a mile away from the winery itself.
This locale in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is one of the most famous and well-known mountain destinations in the world, and amateurs and pros alike will find a slope — or at least a lodge with a fireplace — that suits them. For an action-packed experience, plan your trip for January, when the Winter X Games take over Buttermilk and the world’s best skiers and snowboarders descend on the town to rip, flip, slip, and slide down the mountains and over the jumps.
If shopping and dining are what you consider extreme sports, Aspen is a dining and designer oasis with a selection of high-end stores reminiscent of Milan’s Via Montenapoleone and gourmet restaurants like what you might find in South Tyrol.
We find a racy, crisp glass of Kettmeir Pinot Bianco to be the perfect accompaniment for relaxing in a hot tub, maxing out your credit card, and watching athletes shred on the superpipe. The steely mineral notes with hints of crisp green apple mimic the action on the slopes and are a sophisticated match for high-style dining.
If “go big or go home” is your travel mantra, look no further than this Montana spot — home to “The Biggest Skiing in America” — where there are more than 5,800 skiable acres geared for experts, beginners, and everyone in between. There is also an impressive array of activity options, ranging from sleigh rides and dog sledding to nature ziplines and snowmobile tours.
After working up an appetite, head to Michaelangelo Ristorante — where the chef has been named as one of America’s best by bestchefsamerica.com — to enjoy a signature charcuterie plate with a glass of Kettmeir Müller-Thurgau, just as they do in South Tyrol. Cured meats are a common go-to pairing for this wine with a hint of nutmeg and baked apples.
If going green is as integral to your skiing experience as fresh white powder, we’ve got the perfect environmentally friendly destination for you. Stowe, Vermont is the first mountain community to receive Audubon Sustainable Community certification, and has been dedicated to protecting and preserving the environmental area on which it sits.
But it’s not just about environmental efforts — the skiing is nothing to scoff at. Surrounded by the highest peak in Vermont, Mt. Mansfield, Stowe has 116 trails spanning 485 skiable acres. The resort also offers ice skating, snowshoe tours, an indoor rock-climbing facility, and a variety of restaurants offering European fare ranging from crepes to fondue — all served, of course, with a side of beautiful views. (We suggest enjoying a bottle of Kettmeir Pinot Grigio, whose clean citrus and almond notes work well with a variety of cuisines).
Sun Valley is the world’s first destination ski resort — with the first ski lift — and one of the first to embrace snowboarding. Hit one of the two impressive mountains — Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain, which encompass more than 3,400 vertical feet and 2,000 acres of terrain — and then take advantage of many of the resort amenities, such as the on-site spa.
Superb skiing aside, the Sun Valley area (namely Ketchum) deserves to be listed as a must-visit area purely for the art scene. While Sun Valley might not have the fame and prestige of many European cities, it still allows you a taste of the art- and history-rich culture you’d find in, say, an Italian city. Think an array of art and film festivals plus impressive galleries and museums, some of which even feature works by famed names like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
It’s also worth noting that Ketchum is the final resting place of Ernest Hemingway, who said it best: “If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.” Seeing as Hemingway spent some time in Alto Adige while a Red Cross volunteer in World War I, and wrote about the area often, we imagine he would have appreciated a regional classic such as the medium-bodied Kettmeir Pinot Grigio with hints of florals and ripe apple.
It’s no surprise that Park City is regarded as a prime skiing destination. The city is the site of Utah Olympic Park, a facility built for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and boasts 7,300 snowy acres and 348 trails, 120 of which are groomed every night to offer snow aficionados the freshest powder possible. (The resort is also making a significant amount of improvements for the 2018-19 season, which are detailed here.)
We suggest checking out the Park to live out your own Olympian dreams, and then heading over to the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. Listed as one of America’s Top Restaurants by the Zagat Restaurant Guide, the restaurant serves up an impressive spread of fresh seafood. With a cuisine more reminiscent of Italy’s coastal cities than the Italian Alps, a glass of racy and mineral-forward Kettmeir Pinot Bianco pairs perfectly, and the wine and snow-capped mountains surrounding you will still make for a true Alpine experience.
Much like Italy has more to offer than bustling cities like Rome and Naples, New York has far more to offer than the Big Apple — and much like the Alps offer more in terms of scenery than busy Italian urban areas, the peaks of the Adirondacks are more scenic than the skyscrapers that make up the concrete jungle. (And in both cases, city dwellers love to flee to the mountains.)
Located upstate in Lake Placid, Whiteface is home to the greatest vertical of any lift-serviced mountain in the Northeast, the longest single intermediate run in the Northeast, and a five-star ski school. The mountain is also home to the Olympic facilities used during the 1980 games, which today are not simply used for sport, but wedding celebrations as well. So whether you’re interested in bobsledding or popping a bottle — a Müller Thurgau, with its notes of white mountain flowers and baked apple, feels appropriate — this gorgeous spot has something perfect for you.
If you’re looking to venture outside the Lower 48, head to Alyeska, the largest resort in Alaska and, with an average annual snowfall of 669 inches, the deepest snow in the country. (And with seven lifts that carry you to a vertical rise of 2,500 feet, it’s not just deep, but steep.) And according to the experts (National Geographic), the trees that far North don’t grow above 1,800 feet, meaning the upper mountain offers a true “Alps-like experience.”
When you’re done soaking up the Alpine vibes outdoors, head inside — specifically to Seven Glaciers, the resort’s AAA Four Diamond award-winning mountaintop restaurant. As a wine that pairs particularly well with seafood, the Kettmeir Pinot Bianco, with its stone fruit, lime peel, and herbal notes, is sure to please, especially with the fresh local salmon.
The skiing in Jackson Hole is, like the other places on this list, incredible. Think 2,500 snow-kissed acres and the option to not only enjoy traditional downhill and cross-country skiing, but heli-skiing as well. What’s particularly special about this region is the area’s protected lands — Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Bridger Teton National Forest, and the National Elk Refuge — that allow you nature lovers the opportunity to immerse yourselves in the wilderness and see incredible wildlife in their natural habitat. When there’s no one and nothing around but mountains and animals, it’s the best way to transport yourselves from the Rocky Mountains to the Italian Alps. Who knows? You might even find some similar animals (Wyoming has elk and Alto Adige has reindeer — close enough).
After you’re done exploring, return to the lodge for a glass of complex and sophisticated Kettmeir Pinot Grigio, whose bright acidity and hints of Meyer lemon offer the perfect post-adventure glass. That’s what really separates us from the animals.
This article is sponsored by Kettmeir.