Wine & Spirits – Beaver Creek

Don’t let the lack of snow fool you. Beaver Creek is not just for winter fun. The mountains are beautiful all year around. You may find it curious that as a teetotaler I attended the Wine & Spirits festival, but I wanted to see if even I, without a drop of alcohol, would enjoy it. I did, but how?

The reality of it is, the wine and spirits are only a fraction of the festival. The renowned Walk & Wine Luncheon started with a great hike through the lower hills of Beaver Creek. The affable guides provided three options for the diverse crowd that registered, a slow group keeping a casual pace, a medium group and a fast group. I joined the fast group and found this to be a very relative term but the hike was still very enjoyable. For someone who hikes regularly, don’t expect to be getting any sort of workout from this, but a nice walk in the woods with a fun guide who stops regularly to point out interesting tidbits about the natural history of the area, fauna as they cross the path, various flora including some edible kinds and even some of the land management going-ons around the resort.

We arrived fashionably late to the Luncheon at The Pines Lodge but never felt rushed and those who drank were greeted with a sparkling pink wine. My option was water. The only, dare I say ‘snooty’ comment I received the whole weekend was from, it turned out, the head wine guy (never cared to get his name) at The Pines Lodge who responded to my inquiry of any non-alchaholic options with his nose turned up “it is a walk and WINE luncheon”. Would it kill them to buy a bottle of Martinelli’s just to have on hand? I guess some people need a sense of exclusivity to feel important in some way.

What I’m getting to though, is the food. It was amazing. As you’ll see in the video below, I need to improve my food connoisseur vocabulary so I can move past “tasty”. I mock myself in the second video. See if you can spot it.

The next day was leisurely with a nice ride up the Centennial Chairlift to Spruce Saddle, the ski lodge converted to wedding central for the summer and the base camp for various activities on the mountain. Jordan and I were registered for an 11.15am Jeep Ride. But having arrived early we discovered they loaned golf discs to play on the competitive 18-hole Disc Golf course. We only made it through 3 holes before our Jeep Ride came around to pick us up. For an hour and a quarter, our driver, Travis, drove us up to the top of the ski runs and it was fun to see where we had skied that winter. We got out to walk around some at the top and along the way down at The Brink, the point at which the downhill ski race course takes a steep dive for the center of the earth. Beaver Creek has the only downhill course of this type in North America and the view from it, which I’m sure the racers are not paying attention to when they run the course, is amazing.

After the Jeep Ride, we grabbed a tasty, though expectedly expensive lunch at the Spruce Saddle grill and then finished our Disc Golf round tromping and tossing and chasing and searching for our wayward discs. Clearly, Jordan and I need some practice. Actually, by the back nine, we managed to hit Par a few times and Jordan took the putting cake with a 20 yard putt! Exhausted, we returned to the base of the mountain for a quick nap before getting dressed for the Walkaround Tasting event of the Wine & Spirits Festival.

It surprised me how few “wine & spirit” stands there were. Most of what was there was food. Amazing, delicious, gourmet tasting stations. The top chefs from the various lodges, restaurants, and fine dining establishments each had something to share. I wished I had a bigger belly to make more samples, but I filled up quickly and my taste buds are still abuzz just a few days later. The price of admission as well as for the Walk & Wine event yesterday may be a little pricy not to be partaking of the beverages, but if you’re a real foodie, teetotaler or not, this event is right up your ally.

About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.

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