There is nothing I love more than skiing…. perhaps wine and fine food would take 2nd & 3rd place. In fact these faves of mine go splendidly together. At no time do they blend more perfectly than the Taste Of Vail each April, at one of my fave ski resorts. Picture sunny western skies, a season’s worth of winter snow softening under your skis, and après ski tasting events with Vail’s top chefs and sommeliers. This delicious decadent downhill culinary venue is now in its 27 year – so cheers.
First let’s talk the spring skiing. Spring in Vail is often amazing. Gone are the crowds, its just a few international vacationers, and core locals still accruing a million vert on their Epic Mix season passes.
We’ve enjoyed a spring ski trip to Vail a few times now, and without fail we get bluebird ski days with glorious sun – conditions start with perfect cord that softens to creamy corn by noon. And inevitably we get a powder day or two when the back bowls are blanketed in a few inches to a foot of fresh snow.
Now imagine that buttery skiing, blue skies, sunscreen and no lift lines… then après ski at a fantastic food and wine fest!
Our first event was The Debut of Rose… perfectly timed in the afternoon at the lovely slopeside at Arrabelle at Lionshead Village. Gathering among tables and tables of wine, served by the very vintners themselves are beautiful blushing roses from Oregon, California to France and Chile! We sipped and chatted among 50 wines – meeting passionate locals and well heeled foodies from away..
The next afternoon, the Après Ski Lamb Tasting and perhaps the highlight was in Vail Village - as top local chefs serve their unique twist on lamb dishes accompanied by more extraordinary wines. This event is fun, and fresh air and open to the public in beautiful Vail village – in glorious sun. You can buy individual tasting tickets ($5 each) or $85 for unlimited tasting. The entire upscale ski town turns out and every chef put his best chops forward in this inclusive tasting event.
The winner was Chef Christopher Schmidt of Sweet Basil for his Spring Reuben Lamb Sandwich with Sauerkraut and Green Harissa Mayo. 2nd place and the People’s Choice was Beano’s Cabin and 3rd went to La Tour Restaurant for its unique lamb dumpling dish.
Friday brought gorgeous groomed skiing on Vail’s Frontside and Back Bowls, burning a few calories before skiing to Friday’s Mountain Top Tasting atop the Eagle Bahn gondola at noon for an Epic lunch at 10,350’.
Taste of Vail wraps up on Saturday night with the Grand Tasting & Silent Auction at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort. The Grand Tasting is the culmination of the four-day event, with Vail chefs showcasing their most creative fare alongside wineries from across the country serving their best and most current vintages. Locals and Vail guests dress to impress, in other words – changed out of their ski boots, sip chat and taste the Chefs’ best while bidding on silent auction deals.
Throughout the four Taste of Vail days, there are wine and food tasting seminars galore – like ” Perfect pairings to Spanish paella” and “Pinot Noir comparisons”, even blind tastings. Some of these conflicted with my aforementioned amazing spring skiing on Vail’s 5,000+ acres. Cheers to skiing, eating and drinking the best of Vail!
Heather Burke, 2017 Copyright, Photos by Greg Burke, property of LuxurySkiTrips.com