Intimate, Slow Food Dining
Has Arrived at the Telluride Ski Area
by Martinique Davis
Feb 19, 2009 | 3072 views | 45 45 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print

view slideshow (4 images)
TELLURIDE – The stem of a glass of velvety Spanish red rests between my fingertips, while my tongue explores the buttery dimensions of an imported sheep’s milk cheese. I close my eyes, allowing the food and the wine to bring me back to Europe, to a mountaintop chalet in the French Alps where men and women wearing ski boots ripped bread into pieces and lingered in conversations over coffee.

With eyes now opened, I am delighted by where I find myself: A sunlit room nuzzled in the bosom of an expanse of snowcapped peaks, where a fire crackles and no one seems to be in a hurry. And there is more cheese, and cured meats, and wine to taste. There is, of course, more skiing to be done as well. But like the rest of my fellow diners atop the Telluride Ski Resort, sharing cozy indoor benches or lounging at sun soaked deck tables, I am in no rush to leave this mountain hamlet nestled into the flanks of Gold Hill.

Alpino Vino, the Telluride Ski Area’s newest restaurant, is a stone- and wood-embellished illustration of the new face of dining on the mountain. It is intimate and quaint, oozing with character like a fine wine emanates its bouquet. Located in what locals still call “Trommer’s Cabin” (built years ago by local craftsman Eric Trommer, but sitting empty for at least the last seven,) Alpino Vino embodies the resort’s fresh take on the Telluride ski experience.

“Alpino Vino has added that intimate, exclusive, high-end experience to Telluride’s on-mountain dining,” says Telluride Ski Resort Director of Food and Beverage George Bigley, explaining that the vision for the small, high altitude wine bar was to give it a European-inspired flair. “It’s as if you’ve stumbled upon a chalet in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. We were going for that kind of niche; that lifestyle, in which you enjoy things like wine and cheese, and move away from our fast-food culture.”

To be sure, Alpino Vino is no place to go for a quick hamburger and fries. And as soon as you’ve snuggled into a seat there, you’ll understand why. The eclectic, homey atmosphere, garnished with church pew seating and reclaimed wine barrel tables amid the glow of a stone-framed fireplace, coerces an air of leisure.

The menu’s offerings, which includes an antipasto plate trimmed with fine cured meats, an array of imported cheeses, assorted olives, soups served in miniature copper pots, and grilled Italian paninis, are meant to be enjoyed at an unhurried pace.

Alpino Vino’s wine selection furthers the mood, boasting a surprisingly extensive array of wines by the glass and bottle, as well as a number of wine flights that give tasters the opportunity to explore three different wines at once.

The simple yet elegant fare and eclectic wine selection, enjoyed under the spell of a high alpine cabin, is all part of the Alpino Vino experience, say managers Mike Weist and Sue Berger. The couple (he is the head chef, and she is the certified sommelier,) bring European inspiration to Alpino Vino’s tables. After working at the Telluride Ski Resort’s Allred’s Restaurant for three years, Weist and Berger took their talents to France. The two have operated a small chateau in Burgundy on and off for the last five years, during which time they honed what they call their “Old World palates.”

“When you do sit down to enjoy a meal, we believe you should take the time to make it an event,” says Berger, explaining that many who have visited Alpino Vino since its December opening have expressed surprise at how the ambiance has the ability to transport them to another place – say, France’s Mont Blanc or the Italian Dolomites. From the family-style seating, to the Italian music, to the elegant presentation of a simple plate of imported cured meats and artisanal cheeses alongside a glass of fine wine and a locally made baguette, Berger admits many of this winter’s diners have been wooed into an Alpino Vino state of sated shock. “A unique experience does have that ability to take you to another place…[Coming to Alpino Vino] should be a memorable experience.”

“I think we have surprised a lot of people,” agrees Bigley. “They just didn’t expect the level of what we’re doing – the location, the intimacy of it.” Bigley admits that while space (Alpino Vino is legitimately tiny) is a limiting factor during busy times, the size of the chateau hasn’t limited the restaurant from creating a very high end product. Because of the cabin’s small size, chef Weist doesn’t have a full kitchen; but as Bigley explains, most diners wouldn’t notice the lack of stove or oven. “We looked at what we could do in this space and what we could do well,” Bigley says of Trommer’s Cabin’s transformation from virtually abandoned luxury two-bedroom cabin to the ski resort’s highest restaurant. “I think we hit it,” he says, explaining that while the menu’s offerings may be simple, they are far from austere. Alpino Vino has up to 20 different cheeses from all over the world on any given day. They bring fresh Cindy Bread up via snowcat or snowmobile every morning. There are Italian cured meats and imported olives and specialty extras like giant capers, truffle honey and fig salsa. And they’re not inexpensive; a decadent lunch at Alpino Vino will run you about as much as a nice dinner in Telluride. But the level of service is comparable, while the setting is tough to beat.

Alpino Vino’s wines are similarly decadent. As sommelier Berger describes, nearly all of the menu’s wines originate from small, family-owned vineyards whose wines’ identities have not been diluted by the rigors of mass production. “I want to help people to think outside the box,” Berger says of wine tasting at Alpino Vino, adding that the menu’s wine flights offer just that opportunity. “You have the ability to sample new wines, and may discover something you love.”

I finish my Spanish red, part of the Worldly Reds flight, and decide I can’t leave until I’ve tasted Berger’s recommended dessert wine, made from grapes kissed with Botryis cinerea or “Noble rot.” I then feel compelled to linger a bit longer in front of the fire with a cappuccino. Weist offers me chocolates, and I can’t refuse.

Speaking of the ambiance she and Weist had hoped to create at Alpino Vino, Berger says, “We want people to feel like they’re having a glass of wine in our home.” I could be the houseguest who never leaves, I think, concluding that the sunny outside deck is just begging for another visitor on a leisurely stroll around Alpino Vino’s menu.

Alpino Vino, located on Upper See Forever below Lift 14, is open every day until 3 p.m. Bigley recommends coming before 1 p.m., since seating is limited.
Comments
(45)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
MRH
|
February 26, 2009
Face on Mars, I have no interest in spending time with people who wouldn't want to hang out at Alpino Vino. I have a lot of friends here and still haven't found one that doesn't love it. I see no need to expand my circle; perhaps you are just pissed not to be invited.
FaceOnMars
|
February 24, 2009
B2R: 0
Ok, I agree..FOM
|
February 24, 2009
needs his own separate rating system. FOM, posting on this article, has demonstrated #

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9..

And of course, single handedly smearing the good works of Telski..
PT Barnum
|
February 24, 2009
There is no sticking to the issues where there is no logic to support the position. So to save time and space all ad hominem attacks against either DR or FOM should simply specify the appropriate number as follows: (1) He is ignorant; (2) he is arrogant; (3) he is a communist; (4) he is a fool or idiot; (5) he is a poser or coward or (6) he is a jack-ass (stupid, stubborn or otherwise). Other numbers can be added as needed. This system will save everyone a lot of time, thanks!
FaceOnMars
|
February 24, 2009
I had to look up the word sycophant after reading it here. I'd be willing to put everything I own on the line that I am not posting under any other screen name other than FaceOnMars.

Stick to the issues, unless you've just given up on that front?
Easy to see that
|
February 24, 2009
To Hell You Ride and Ill-lustrious are both FOM..

Telluride's own Dr. No.
To Hell You Ride
|
February 24, 2009
Although I am not the biggest fan of unions, I believe workers at Telski should organize. People who have worked for years on the mountain are trashed everyday. No seniority exists. In his quest for corporate world domination, Riley has taken advantage of hard working people, and the town of Telluride.
ill-lustrious
|
February 24, 2009
It's true, what Mars says: being a sycophant had a lot more luster when you could turn it into easy real estate commissions, but in this economy it's just kind of pathetic.
FaceOnMars
|
February 24, 2009
Riley likes two packets of sugar when you bring him is coffee this morning ... whoever YOU are.
fom hides behind
|
February 24, 2009
his moniker but wants to trace other people's use of posting names...classic FOM..a hypocrite and poser..

Afraid to sign his name..all the while running off at the mouth on how bad Riley is or how much the season pass costs..

A true tool.
Go FOM..GO NOW
|
February 24, 2009
To wolf creek or silverton or Dallas Divide..that is the ticket..being so smart, telling everyone how to do everything...ie, how the Watch should run these boards, the Town should do this, that and the other thing and how Telski should determine prices, pay their employees, run their operation...GO NOW FOM..GO..INVEST YOUR OWN MONEY AND NOT YOUR MOUTH AND MOVE TO WOLF CREEK OR DALLAS DIVIDE (AND RESTART IT)..AND GET OFF THIS LIFE OF BASHING EVERYONE..
FaceOnMars
|
February 24, 2009
There's clearly a difference, thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

Telski is a corporation (as far as I know) which has a prime directive to look after it's own financial bottom line vs. the ski area which is comprised of both land and infrastructure where people ski/snowboard.

The ski area operator (Telski) is operating the infrastructure (namely the lift system) under a lease agreement with the National Forest Service. While Telski does own some private property -- which is also a part of the ski area -- the vast majority of land is owned by the NFS.

So, let me put it to you this way: Telski is nothing more than a glorified "renter" of the ski area as a business.

I'd have very little problem with Telski if lift they took a more minimalistic approach to expansion and non-essential items which are clearly impacting fees to access the lift system. Wolf Creek is a good example of how a ski area OUGHT to be run!
SnickersDoodle
|
February 23, 2009
I think FOM must be one of those C.A.V.E people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything). You are short sighted, selfish and ignorant.
MV resident
|
February 23, 2009
"...all in spite of Telski..."

FaceOnMars, how can you separate the Telluride Ski Area from Telski? The ski company delivers the goods! That's like saying I really like a Ford Mustang but I hate Ford. It's really obvious that you have a axe to grind with the ski company.
Gtothemfb
|
February 23, 2009
Alpino Vino is not on Forest Service public land, FYI. It is on private land, an old mining claim, now owned by the ski company.
PT Barnum
|
February 23, 2009
I think that it would be hard to sell gold bullion to FOM based only on the assertion that others were eager to buy it. I also suspect that he is the type who would demand an assay rather than a photo. I do not find these attributes opprobrious.
FaceOnMars
|
February 23, 2009
I find it interesting that you and a few others have a difficult time accepting that some of us aren't wholeheartedly on the Revelation ticket. "Fresh blown snow every night" is clearly an overstatement ... to say the least. I've already made my point about the variable snow conditions and it being an inherent hit or miss proposition. While it's not steep (not sure why some make such a claim?), I suppose it does fill a void as being a moderatedly pitched bump run. Milk Run used to be about the only run on the mountain which fit this bill before it they groomed it.

Everyone I've talked to associated with the freestyle team would love to have the old Milk Run back! It was clearly one of the most unique runs on the mountain given the combination of moderate pitch and sun exposure -- definitely one of the mountain's jewel's, but is now nothing more than another version of the rest steep groomers (aka artificially created advanced intermediate terrain). Coonskin is a much more viable run for the race course given the more shady aspects. It's interesting to see Telski brag about green credits, yet instead of exploiting the relative lack of sun exposure on Coonskin, they spend countless hours & resources pumping snow and diesel into Milk Run.

While most people I speak with are in agreement about the old Milk Run, I've given up hope on the (non) grooming front ... I'd just like for it to be open to the public more times than not. Over the past few years, it hasn't opened for the season until late January (aside from maybe a quick afternoon one-off gift from patrol during Dec.). The "public" you spoke for should consider themselves lucky the run was open when they visited.

I agree, the terrain @ Telluride is clearly some of the best in the country, but this is all in spite of Telski.
kevenh
|
February 23, 2009
1. yes, fresh snow blown into revelation each night, u r right, that's awful.

2. a few days ago the public and tourist really had an awful day skiing a groomed milk run, groomed bushwacker, and a groomed (steep) silver cloud.

3. 2 patrolers came over from snowbird last week. they were completely blown away by our ENTIRE mountain.

4. a guide from lech austria said telluride might be the best mtn in our country.

5. no talk of a bumped milk run. nothing but raves for RBowl.

6. one did mention "who is the tool named FACE ON MARS?"

7. i have no #7
FaceOnMars
|
February 23, 2009
I'm hardly bitter MRH, just calling them like I see them. In fact, I try to not get roped into the name calling and mean spirited attacks which seem to get launched more often by those who are in suport of all-things-Telski.

MRH, many people are in agreement with me to some to some degree or another. You might want to expand your circle of friends if you've never heard a non-positive comment re: AV or Rev. ... it might give you a new perspective on things.

MRH
|
February 23, 2009
FaceOnMars, you seem so bitter.

If you don't like Revelation Bowl, don't ski it! If you don't like Alpino Vino, don't eat/drink there. I love both of these additions and I actually don't know anyone that doesn't.

Seek out things you do like either on the mountain or off and focus on those; you will be a much happier person.