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13 Restaurants for Après-Ski Wine Bliss

After hitting the slopes, chill out with a glass at these restaurants
Photo by: The Little Nell
In the skiing mecca of Aspen, warm up with the world-class wine program at the Little Nell.

Posted: February 16, 2016

Updated: Jan. 18, 2018

Ski season is in full swing, and whether you favor Nordic or Alpine, an essential component of the wintry pastime is the post-ski meal—the big respite after a long day in the snow. For those with a passion for wining and dining, this moment is not complete without a glass—or bottle—of something special to cap off the evening.

We've selected 13 restaurants from top ski regions across the United States and Canada whose wine lists provide plenty of tipples for a cozy cool-down after a day hitting the slopes. These Wine Spectator Grand Award– and Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurants offer wine lists with excellent breadth and depth across many regions, styles and vintages. For more options in all kinds of climes, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning restaurants, including our 87 Grand Award recipients.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!

Element 47

The Little Nell, 675 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, Colo.
Telephone (970) 920-6330
Website www.thelittlenell.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Grand Award

"Wine was a part of even the initial investment [at the Little Nell]," says wine director Carlton McCoy. "It’s grown tremendously since then."

Tucked high in the Rocky Mountains at the luxurious Little Nell hotel is flagship restaurant Element 47, whose name is a reference to silver’s number on the periodic table, and Aspen’s founding as a mining town. The real riches, though, are found in the restaurant’s 22,000-bottle cellar. Offering 2,500 selections, with strengths in Burgundy, Bordeaux, California, Rhône, Italy and Germany, the Colorado institution has earned a Grand Award every year since 1997 and has a reputation for helping mint Master Sommeliers, graduating 10 in total, including current wine director Carlton McCoy. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this season from mid-February through spring, try the hotel’s mobile Champagne bar, the Oasis, which is pulled by a snowcat that moves locations around Aspen Mountain. There, you’ll find a selection of sparklers and small plates.

Flagstaff House Restaurant

1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder, Colo.
Telephone (303) 442-4640
Website www.flagstaffhouse.com
Open Dinner, daily
Grand Award

Flagstaff House Restaurant
With its floor-to-ceiling picture windows, Flagstaff House offers panoramic views of Boulder from an elevation of 6,000 feet.

Skiers passing through Boulder, just a morning’s drive from Keystone and Breckenridge and roughly 20 miles from Eldora Mountain Resort, will find both mountainside views and a Grand Award–winning wine list at Flagstaff House Restaurant. Wine director Elizabeth Booth’s 2,900-selection list features depth in Burgundy, Bordeaux, California, Italy, Champagne, Rhône, Australia and Port, with over 15 vintages of Dom Pérignon, 19 of Penfolds Grange and a vast collection of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Up to 18 guests at a time can experience the restaurant’s Vintners Room, which looks into the 18,000-bottle cellar and out at views of Flagstaff Mountain from an elevation of 6,000 feet.

Post Hotel Dining Room

Post Hotel & Spa, 200 Pipestone Road, Lake Louise, Alberta
Telephone (403) 522-3989
Website www.posthotel.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily (closed Oct. 11, 2018 to Nov. 21, 2018)
Grand Award

Michael Soroka
With an inventory of more than 25,000 bottles, Post Hotel Dining Room's wine program is truly grand.

Boasting one of the very best wine lists in all of Canada, Post Hotel Dining Room makes its home in the hamlet of Lake Louise in the Rockies. After a long day on the slopes, skiers can stretch out with wine director and owner George Schwarz’ nearly 2,500-selection list, which showcases wines from California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône, Tuscany, Piedmont and Australia, with plenty of values and western Canadian selections in the mix as well. Chef Hans Sauter’s hearty fare spotlights Canadian meats and fish in dishes such as a Québec foie gras torchon, sautéed Atlantic lobster in red Thai curry sauce, Alberta bison tenderloin and whole-roasted caribou strip loin. For those with a sweet tooth, the dessert wine list highlights nearly three dozen choices of Vintage Port, as well as a substantial vertical of Château d’Yquem.

Allred’s Restaurant

Telluride Ski & Golf Resort, 565 Mountain Village Blvd., Telluride, Colo.
Telephone (970) 728-7474
Website www.allredsrestaurant.com
Open Dinner, daily (closed April to May)
Best of Award of Excellence

If it’s mountaintop dining you’re after, head up to Allred’s Restaurant at the top of the Telluride Gondola for sweeping Rocky Mountain views. There, wine director Andrew Shaffner’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning 1,100-selection list excels in choices from California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy and Spain. In addition to its robust by-the-glass list, those who prefer a smaller sample can opt for one of the handful of selections available in 2-ounce Coravin pours. Sustainably sourced lamb, steak and seafood are the focus of chef Michael Gorman’s seasonal menu, which includes dishes such as cider-brined Berkshire pork chop and Columbia River salmon with dashi-mushroom broth.

Araxi Restaurant + Bar

4222 Village Square, Whistler, British Columbia
Telephone (604) 932-4540
Website www.araxi.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Steve Li
Showcased in the private wine room at Araxi Restaurant + Bar is the restaurant's 12,000-bottle inventory.

Less than a mile from Whistler’s Blackcomb ski resort, in the picturesque main square of the village, is Best of Award of Excellence–winning Araxi Restaurant + Bar. Wine director Samantha Rahn has sourced a collection of more than 1,000 labels from regions both local and global, with extensive selections from Bordeaux, California, Burgundy, Tuscany, Rhône and Canada to pair with chef James Walt’s Pacific Northwestern cuisine. Those dining in the restaurant’s heated outdoor bar can people-watch the goings-on of the town plaza below, while guests looking for a more private dining experience can retreat to the restaurant’s wine room, where the 12,000-bottle inventory doubles as decor.

Coleman Brook Tavern

Okemo Mountain Resort, 111 Jackson Gore Road, Ludlow, Vt.
Telephone (802) 228-1435
Website www.okemo.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

At Vermont’s Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Coleman Brook Tavern features one of the state’s four Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine programs. Wine director Katherine Thompson’s 950-selection, moderately priced list focuses on California bottles, including verticals from big-timers like Harlan Estate, Opus One, Joseph Phelps, Caymus and Chateau Montelena, as well as Washington’s Quilceda Creek. The 5,500-bottle inventory is on display in the restaurant’s wine room, which can be reserved for private parties.

Frasca Food & Wine

1738 Pearl St., Boulder, Colo.
Telephone (303) 442-6966
Website www.frascafoodandwine.com
Open Dinner, Monday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Frasca Food & Wine
On downtown Boulder's Pearl Street, Frasca Food & Wine captures northern Italian comfort in both its cuisine and wine list.

Inspired by northeastern Italy’s Friuli–Venezia-Giulia region, Boulder’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning Frasca Food & Wine presents an 800-selection list, over 70 pages long, created by co-owner and Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey and maintained by wine director Carlin Karr. True to its theme, Frasca’s list showcases Italian picks, with strengths in France and California as well. Chef Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson’s menu features pastas, meats and seafood dishes in a northern Italian style, except for Monday evenings, when the restaurant offers a $50 prix-fixe tasting menu, with an optional wine flight to accompany.

Game Creek

Game Creek Bowl, on Vail Mountain, Vail, Colo.
Telephone (970) 754-4275
Website www.gamecreekvail.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Game Creek
Game Creek is a charmingly remote Restaurant Award winner in the mountains of Colorado.

At the base of Eagle’s Nest slope in Vail, Colo., Game Creek offers an outstanding wine list in a gorgeous setting during the ski season and beyond. Accessing the restaurant is an adventure of its own; the chalet-inspired structure can only be reached by snowcat in the winter or by hiking or shuttle in the summer. The Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine program, managed by sommelier Joshua MacLean, features 550 selections with strengths in California, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Italy. Chef Steven Topple’s prix-fixe menu is available in three courses for $99 or four for $109, and warm, hearty dishes include ravioli with mushroom and nutmeg, foie gras with fig-orange bread pudding and bison with confit potato.

Grouse Mountain Grill

Beaver Creek Resort, 141 Scott Hill Road, Beaver Creek, Colo.
Telephone (970) 949-0600
Website www.grousemountaingrill.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Beaver Creek Resort may be known for its Birds of Prey downhill course, where World Cup Alpine ski races are held in December, but pros and leisure skiers alike can traverse the wine list at Grouse Mountain Grill. Hearty regional fare from chef David Gutowski includes dishes like grilled elk with potato risotto, baby beets and hazelnut vinaigrette and braised bone-in pork ribs. Wine director Rob Farrer’s list, which has won the restaurant a Best of Award of Excellence since 2011, provides 400 selections, with a focus on California, France and Italy, including choice bottles from Harlan Estate, Opus One, Araujo Eisele Vineyard and Hundred Acre.

Havana Restaurant

318 Main St., Bar Harbor, Maine
Telephone (207) 288-2822
Website www.havanamaine.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Just a short drive from cross-country skiing destination Acadia National Park is Best of Award of Excellence–winning Havana Restaurant on Maine’s picturesque Mount Desert Island. The 800-bottle list by wine director and owner Michael Boland offers a wealth of selections from Italy, Spain, California, France, Washington and Oregon to pair with chef Cassady Pappas’ warming regional cuisine. Value-seekers will find an abundance of choices to fit the budget, including a list of picks under $45, as well as a selection of half-priced offerings on Wednesdays.

J&G Grill

St. Regis Deer Valley, 2300 Deer Valley Drive E., Park City, Utah
Telephone (435) 940-5760
Website www.jggrilldeercrest.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Starwood/The St. Regis Deer Valley
Retreat from the chill without sacrificing the mountain view at Park City's J&G Grill.

In the hometown of the U.S. Ski Team, head to J&G Grill, opened by Jean-Georges Vongerichten in 2009 at the St. Regis Deer Valley Resort. There, wine director Mark Moulton’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning list offers 1,000 selections with strengths in California, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Italy. Showcased in the restaurant’s spacious wine vault, which doubles as a wine bar and private dining room, is the 12,000-bottle inventory. When it comes to post-ski recovery fuel, choose from one of the restaurant's signature steaks or opt for the five-course tasting menu, with optional wine pairings.

La Forge Bar & Grill

3041 Chemin de la Chapelle, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec
Telephone (819) 681-4900
Website www.laforgetremblant.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

North of Montréal in Quebec’s Laurentian mountains sits Mont-Tremblant, a charming, snowy village known for its skiing. Tucked between the slopes and the idyllic town square, Place St.-Bernard, you’ll find La Forge Bar & Grill, a longtime Best of Award of Excellence–winning steak house with views of both sights. Wine director François Raby’s cellar provides 550 selections, well-stocked with France, Italy, California and Spain; those looking to drink local will also find several Canadian options.

Rustico Ristorante

114 E. Colorado Ave., Telluride, Colo.
Telephone (970) 728-4046
Website www.rusticoristorante.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Ski buffs with a taste for Italian wines will find no shortage of choices at Rustico Ristorante. Wine director Paolo Canclini’s list has won the restaurant a Best of Award of Excellence since 2003 for its 1,515 selections, spanning the length of the boot and covering both classic and obscure regions. Chef Angelo Deustacchio’s menu includes handmade sausage, mozzarella, focaccia, grissini and carta da musica, as well as wood-fired pizzas, local beef and, of course, plenty of pasta.

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