Recently on Twitter a follower tweeted me and professed wine tasting to be boring, with a capital B no less. “It’s all the same – swirl, sniff, sip. What’s adventurous about that?,” she wanted to know. Let me introduce you to Alta Badia‘s annual Wine Ski Safari, the most adventurous way we’ve gone wine tasting yet.
With maps in hand, Tim set off on his skis (and me in my snowshoes) on an epic hut-to-hut Wine Ski Safari that would surround us with dazzling peaks. The area is so bewitching that the movie Cliffhanger was filmed around this part of Northern Italy. As I trudged (er, snowshoed) up to each hut as Tim would come easily swooshing down the piste on his skis, my breath would be taken away from the 360° panoramas of saw-toothed mountain ranges.
Aside from the jaw-dropping views of the area’s vertiginous crags, ledges, pinnacles and plateaus, this part of Italy has over 3000 years of wine growing history and is the oldest German speaking wine growing area. Barely making up 1% of Italy’s total wine production, the 5300 hectares of vineyards are also the country’s smallest wine growing area. Alto Adige still boasts some 160 wineries and produces around 40 million bottles each year.
Six mountain huts all above 2000 meters participated in the Wine Ski Safari. Each was set up with a selection of 30 different Alto Adige wines on a snow bar and each hut had a different variety than the last. Placards announced wines like Lagrein, Weiß Burgunder, Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, and Blauburgunder. We’d claim our glasses and get to tasting, taking our glasses over to the colorful lounge chairs perfectly placed for drinking in the views.
Each of the huts also had South Tyrolean products like speck, cheese, and bread to serve with the wine tastings. Famished from snowshoeing through the deep snow, I also indulged in the Slope Food tastings on offer at several of the huts. You could also go on a gourmet ski safari, working your way around to 14 huts where 14 Michelin-starred chefs created finger foods and carefully selected an Alto Adige wine to pair with it. My favorites of the few I got to try were the croissants at Utia de Bioch by Chef Norbert Niederkoffer, a two Michelin-starred chef from St. Hubertus in San Cassiano and the bean soup at Utia l Tabla by Chef Arturo Spicocchi, a one Michelin-star chef from La Stua de Michil in Corvara.
Each hut had a totally different vibe, some with live music while others had a DJ spinning or an accordionist entertaining skiers. But Utia Las Vegas seemed to be the place to see and be seen at the end of the day. A live band got their groove thing on with hits from the 70s like Stayin’ Alive and More Than a Feeling.
This was the fourth year Alta Badia Tourism has hosted the Wine Ski Safari in collaboration with EOS-Export Organization Alta Adige and we sure hope it will be back for a fifth year in 2015. The day was a lot of fun and a really unique way to combine our love of winter sports with wine.
Know Before You Go
- The Wine Ski Safari is €30 per person and tickets can be purchased at any of the participating huts.
- Slope Food is €12 per tasting with a wine pairing included. The Slope Food Card is also available for €30 per person and allows you to taste Slope Food at 3 huts.
- Alta Badia ski passes are €41 per day per adult and include 130 kilometers of slopes serviced by 53 lifts in the Corvara, Colfosco, San Cassiano, La Villa and Badia and at the Campolongo, Gardena and Falzarego passes.
Disclosure: Our trip to Alta Badia and our Wine Ski Safari were hosted by Alta Badia Tourism in order to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely our own and were in no way influenced by copious amounts of Michelin-starred food, glasses of quality Alto Adige wine, or the best snow in all of Europe for skiing.