We’ve been crazy about both travel and wine long enough to have amassed a list of some truly breathtaking places to enjoy awesome wine. We’re not selfish, so we’ve decided to start sending a quick Tweet about the best dive bars, five star bars, campsites, infinity edge bath tubs, mountain tops, riverside patios, BBQ joints and luxury hotels to enjoy a glass of wine at. Follow us on Twitter, then follow up right here on our blog where we’ll elaborate on each Tweet including photos, links, past Travel Journal entries from our web site and published reviews of the place. Most importantly, we’ll also suggest a wine that pairs perfectly.
#7: September 10, 2009 NEW! NEW! NEW!
Where: Lake O’Hara campground, Yoho National Park, Alberta, Canada
Why: Iconic Lake O’Hara offers views of Mt. Lafroy and Victoria Peak on the Continental Divide plus grizzly bears, elk and other members of the Canadian Rockies Wildlife Top 5 list. The area is also a hiker’s paradise with one stunning route after another. Don’t miss the Alpine Loop which connects four separate trails into one epic 15 mile circuit that takes you through a range of mountain terrain from dense forest to above-the-tree line-scree. Some sections are literally chiseled into the stony mountain face. The beauty of the place is such a draw that Parks Canada restricts access to the area’s 30 coveted back country camp sites in order to reduce wear and tear on the land and safeguard crucial migration corridors for the area’s big mammals.
Which Wine: Manage to get a camping reservation at Lake O’Hara and you’ll want to celebrate. Thankfully the campground is mere steps from where a school bus drops you and your stuff off–more than accessible enough to bring along a couple of Nalgene or Camelbak or SIGG bottles full of wine. We suggest King Shag 2007 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The adorable penguin on the label of this extremely affordable and delicious New Zealand wine makes a nice addition to the existing wildlife.
#6: July 23, 2009
Where: Triple Creek Ranch Darby, Montana
Why: This is NOT a dude ranch. Yes, there are horses and cowboys and cabins and mountains and cattle and elk and saddles and a few dudes. However, this is a world class luxury hideaway which consistently tops travel magazines’ “Best/Top/Most” lists (if you believe in those sorts of things) and is a member of the elite Relais & Chateaux group. The wines here, housed in a glass-enclosed 3,000 bottle cellar, have earned Triple Creek Ranch the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2005 and, even better, a selection of those wines is included in the all-inclusive room rates (which are admittedly steep at $650-$2,495 double occupancy). Bottles are even re-stocked in your luxe cabin during your stay just in case you feel like a glass or two in your private hot tub. Read Karen’s full review of Triple Creek Ranch for www.itravelishop.com.
Which Wine: The so-called “house wines,” which are included in the room rate, are absolutely delicious–or splurge and choose something from their wine list. We got turned onto Schlumberger Cuvee Klimt Brut Champagne during our stay here and the resort currently has a great bottle from Paso Robles on the list (L’Aventure, “Optimus” 2003).
#5: July 17, 2009
Where: Cafe Italia, El Paso
Why: Don’t let the strip mall location fool you. This BYOB pizzeria is the real thing, particularly if you’re a wine lover. They’ve got a real wood-fired brick pizza oven, feature organic and local homegrown veggies, all the mozzarella is homemade AND their corkage fee is just $1. That’s, like 1908 prices! Really, when we saw the corkage fee at the bottom the menu we thought it was a typo. The owner, Dan, will undoubtedly be on hand to make sure you fall in love with every bite and he’s always handy with the bottle opener. Generously sized and topped pizzas are just $14 (the Gracie’s is outstanding) and we recommend you go nuts and have Dan toss some silky, buttery prosciuto de parma on top as well. The menu changes seasonally as well, giving you more reasons to return again and again.
Which Wine: That’s entirely (blissfully) up to you. That $1 corkage fee means you can bring as many of your favorite bottles as you like or an armful of new ones to try.
#4 – July 8, 2009
Where: Non Solo Panino cafe in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico
Why: This pint-size cafe off a tranquil park in one of Mexico City’s most bohemian neighborhoods offers delicious salads, linger-inducing sidewalk tables, a riotous casts of chain-smoking and lap-dog-toting regulars and a short but refreshingly Italian wine list–all things that are in short supply in Mexico.
Which Wine: Does it matter at 25 pesos (roughly US$2) per very generously poured glass? Go nuts and get a whole liter of perfectly enjoyable vino della casa for $7.
#3 – July 1, 2009
Where: The bathtub in bungalow 16 at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Florida
Why: With just 30 free-standing, thatched-roof, totally-luxe bungalows on the whole private island this award-winning hideaway in the Florida Keys is one of the most romantic spots on earth. Bungalow 16 has one of the most romantic bathtubs on earth–an elegantly curved copper monster right in the middle of the room with a chandelier hanging over it. Here’s Karen’s full review of Little Palm Island for www.itravelishop.com.
Which Wine: Start with the bottle of bubbly the resort gives you at check in then really work the room by ordering up the resort’s Romance Package. You’ll return to your room after dinner to discover an even better bottle of champagne, a specially drawn bath, chocolate covered strawberries and rose petals all over the place.
#2 – June 26, 2009
Where: Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park Campground
Why: This lightly-visited park offers a forest of ancient coastal redwoods so thick that the park remains largely trail-less and some roads have vehicle size restrictions. Campground sites are also shaded by towering redwoods, creating the perfect ambiance for a glass or two around the fire ring.
Which Wine: A camping standby for us is Goats do Roam, a no nonsense Rhone varietal blend made by a South African winemaker with a delicious sense of humor. We also love the sturdy constitution of this tasty red which helps it keep its balance even in the shifting temperatures that come with camping.
#1 – June 25, 2009
Why: The Granary Lounge at Spring Creek Ranch offers more than a dozen wines by the glass at reasonable prices and more than a hundred old and new world bottles from the $20s to the $200s PLUS the best view of the Grand Teton mountain range in the area. Do yourself a favor and go at sunset. Here’s Karen’s review of Spring Creek Ranch for www.itravelishop.com.
Which Wine: The wine list at the Granary Lounge evolves constantly, however, we enjoyed a bottle of Dry Creek Vineyards 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon.