It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since Edgar and Polly Stern conceived of building a ski resort that would offer the same fine food, accommodations and customer service that you’d expect to find at the world’s top-rated hotels. The Sterns’ creation was called Deer Valley. And, even as the folks at Deer Valley celebrate their 25th anniversary this season, the place looks and feels brand spanking new.
Through the years, the wine program at Deer Valley Resort’s restaurants and lounges has expanded and evolved right along with the skiable terrain. That’s due mostly to Julie Wilson’s keen wine sense and passion. She’s the resort’s food and beverage director and has been with Deer Valley since opening day in 1981. In tandem with Deer Valley Resort’s Kris Anderson and Clint Strohl'two more “old-timers” who oversee much of the wine purchasing and wine-education programs at Deer Valley'Julie has created a mountain delight for wine enthusiasts.
But don’t get the idea that you have to break the bank to enjoy a glass or bottle of wine at Deer Valley. There’s something for everyone, with prices ranging from a few dollars for a glass of, say, delicious Conundrum, to the “We’re going to have to sell the Bentley” sticker shock of some of Deer Valley Resort’s fine old French Burgundies. Even most of those high-ticket items are quite reasonably priced compared to what you’d expect to pay elsewhere.
Of course, there’s always something new going on at Deer Valley Resort, and this year is no exception. To help celebrate its silver anniversary, this season Deer Valley has partnered with California’s Humanitas Wine Company to offer a limited selection of Humanitas wines in distinctively bottled “Deer Valley 25th Anniversary” blends.
Why should you care? Well, aside from making very good wine, Humanitas Wine Company gives back to the communities in which it sells its wines. I wrote an article about Humanitas a couple of years ago, in which I detailed Humanitas’ winemaker Judd Wallenbrock’s unique vino vision. In order to help “create some good in the world,” Wallenbrock had the nutty notion of turning wine profits into a tool for fighting hunger, homelessness and illiteracy.
With every bottle of Humanitas wine sold, a portion of the sale goes to organizations right in that community. So each time someone drinks a bottle of Humanitas wine at Deer Valley Resort, a portion of the profit will directly benefit charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, America’s Second Harvest and Reading is Fundamental in Utah. Says Julie Wilson, “We’ll be offering a Humanitas Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a crisp, European-style Chardonnay, which we feel will be excellent pairings with our menus. We loved the idea of the anniversary wine, and we love the concept of this charitable winery.” The Humanitas anniversary wines will be available in each of Deer Valley Resort’s evening restaurants: Seafood Buffet, Royal Street CafÃ©, The Mariposa and Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge, and also in the Snow Park Lodge for aprÃ¨s-ski.
I recently tasted the 2003 Humanitas Monterey County Merlot. Imagine chocolate-dipped blueberries in a bottle with fresh cracked pepper on top, plus a bit of smoke! It’s very tasty. The 2003 Humanitas Santa Barbara County Chardonnay is oak free, with flavors of ripe tropical fruits and pears'a very clean wine. And Humanitas 2003 Monterey County Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100 percent Cabernet, with some of the chocolate and blueberry flavors you find in the Humanitas Merlot, but with oh-so-soft tannins. Try the Merlot and Cabernet side-by-side after a day of skiing at Deer Valley. Remember, it’s for a good cause.