Winter + Wine + Whistler = Wonderland | British Columbia | Canada / by Christine Campbell

Christine Campbell writes weekly on her wine blog Girls Go Grape and is a contributing writer for the Alcohol Professor. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Christine sits on the B.C. VQA assessment panel. Follow Christine each #WineWednesday on Girls Go Grape Twitter and Facebook.

Alta's bartop

Alta's bartop

 

Do you love winter and getting cozy beside a roaring fire with a bottle of delicious wine?  Do you prefer, instead, waking up at the crack of dawn and hitting the slopes, to be the first person of the day down a run, to then ease into a warm Jacuzzi and sip champagne while the snow falls around you?  If you fall into either of these categories, you will find Whistler, British Columbia a winter wonderland that can gratify nearly all of your winter desires.

Located 75 miles north of Vancouver, Canada, Whistler was the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.  Whistler Blackcomb resort receives over 2 million unique visitors each year and consistently ranks as the top ski destination in North America. Ski Magazine just named Whistler‘Number 1 Overall Resort for 2016’.

Olympic Rings at Whistler

Olympic Rings at Whistler

Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are indeed impressive and have over one mile of vertical and over 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, which is the largest in North America. With an incredibly long season, Whistler Blackcomb is open from late November until July for mountain sports.  Delightfully, you can ski from the top of either mountain and end up in the heart of the village where you can step out of your skis or snowboard and be just a few paces from many excellent restaurants or pubs. 

If skiing isn’t your thing, there are ample ways to stay engaged and entertained while touring Whistler Blackcomb.  Some options for your trip are:  snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding, or taking a run down the Olympic Bobsled track at the Whistler Sliding Centre with the Jamaican Bobsled Team Coach, Pat Brown.  All activities will leave you with a taste of the ‘Great White North’ and an appetite for some great food and, of course, great wine.

Whistler boasts a variety of restaurants to choose from when looking for dining options and, happily, delivers great experiences at every price point.  There are over 190 restaurants, cafés, lounges and bars to welcome you with a warm seat and great service.

Alta Bistro

Alta Bistro

Alta Bistro

At Alta Bistro, you will find sustainable, locally farmed food within a casual yet Whistler-chic bistro setting.  This is a fantastic place to check out for dinner, if you are looking for some delicious food and great wine.  The Whistler-born co-owner of Alta Bistro, Eric Griffith, likes to have a great selection of wine for his clients:

“I like my wines by the glass - I like to challenge or push my customers a bit to try a new experience.  I focus on the balance of the selections, typicity, the interesting factor or the unique factor, and the delicious factor.  These are the terms I use in the restaurant to keep wine approachable.”

Alta Bistro’s wine list is excellent with remarkable British Columbia wines as well as delicious and unique choices from international producers.  When asked of his favorite pairing in the restaurant, Griffith responded, “Our Elk Tartare and Foie Gras Parfait with an off-dry to medium sweet aromatic white wine because it usually beguiles the guest on suggestion.  Currently the biodynamic Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Les Elements from Alsace is a superb pairing for this dish.  Many times have we surprised a guest who says they don't like sweet, or off dry wines - after feeling the texture and weight of the wine mixed with the feather light foie gras parfait, they're hooked!”

Located within the Pinnacle Hotel, Alta Bistro offers modern, French bistro cuisine and a truly interactive food and wine experience for the wine tourist – a definite must for your visit.

Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar

Located right in the heart of Whistler Village, Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar is the ‘go to ‘ place for fresh oysters and all things seafood.  Araxi’s Wine Director, Samantha Rahn, was voted ‘Sommelier of the Year’ in 2013 at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.  While speaking at ‘Cornucopia’ (Whistler’s wine, spirits and food festival) Rahn, explained how she assembles her wine list, “I ensure that there are very good and excellent value wines on our list.  I want the experience to be an easy one for our guests, so we offer many choices for every price range.  We do have a great selection of British Columbia wines as they pair beautifully with our menu.”

Araxi carries over 1,000 wine labels and has a cellar of over 11,000 bottles.  This iconic restaurant has been open for over 34 years and continues to win food and beverage awards.

Bearfoot Bistro

Saber a champagne bottle

Saber a champagne bottle

For a fine-dining experience, look no further than to the Bearfoot Bistro for an evening to remember.  Founded by André Saint-Jacques, the Bearfoot Bistro exceeds expectations for any wine tourist.  Boasting over 20,000 bottles, the Bearfoot Bistro has the largest restaurant wine cellar in British Columbia.

Executive Chef, Melissa Craig, is among the top chefs in Canada and the Wine Director is Maryke Vandermarel.  Suggesting wine pairings for Chef Craig’s creations is ‘a daily pleasure’ for Vandermarel who wants guests to engage with her and the sommeliers to ensure a beautiful experience at the restaurant.

Do you love champagne?  Well, this is the place for you.  Bearfoot Bistro’s ‘Champagne Lounge’ will impress you with a pewter bar that has a rail of ice to keep your champagne perfectly chilled.  Have you ever sabered a champagne bottle?  You can learn to do that in the wine cellar under the guidance of André Saint-Jacques while learning about the history and tradition of sabering bottles of champagne.

Taste Whistler

If you are staying at a cozy condo or cabin, why not stay in one night and have Eric Blouin of Taste Whistler come to you and deliver an informative and educational wine evening?  Maybe you want to learn more about wines from British Columbia or perhaps you are interested in having an Old World vs. New World wine battle?  Blouin will develop a memorable occasion for you tailored to your requests in an engaging, fun and intelligent way.

Opening Day for skiing at Whistler

Opening Day for skiing at Whistler

There are many reasons that Whistler is as popular as it is.  With ‘small town’ sensibility and ‘big city’ flare, Whistler has something for everyone.

Some useful links:

Tourism Whistler

Vancouver International Airport

Sea to Sky Highway