Alta Badia. There’s snow business quite like it. Between the mouth-watering cuisine, stunning sun terraces with stellar panoramic views, and a plethora of winter adventure activities to do, Alta Badia is already one of the best ski holidays in Italy’s Dolomites. Couple all of that with Ski Alta Badia‘s annual Wine Ski Safari, the most adventurous way we’ve gone wine tasting yet, and this is one Dolomites skiing destination that simply must be on your bucket list.
Alta Badia Wine Ski Safari
Once per year Alta Badia hosts a Wine Ski Safari, combining incredible skiing in the Dolomiti ski area with wine tasting above 2000 meters. It’s a unique experience you can’t have anywhere else.
Six mountain huts offer 30 different varieties of red, white and sparkling Alto Adige wines at each hut, all located above 2000 meters. Each hut has its own spectacular views of the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites mountains and its own vibe with live music. Kick off your skis (or snowshoes) and grab a glass and a sun lounger. We guarantee you’ve never gone wine tasting like this before.
With maps in hand, Tim set off on his skis (and me in my snowshoes) on an epic hut-to-hut Wine Ski Safari that surrounded us with the dazzling peaks of Italy’s Dolomites. The area is so bewitching that the movie Cliffhanger was filmed around this part of Northern Italy. As I snowshoed up to each hut as Tim would come easily swooshing down the piste on his skis, my breath was taken away from the 360° panoramas of saw-toothed mountain ranges.
Aside from the jaw-dropping views of the area’s vertiginous crags, ledges, pinnacles and plateaus, this part of Italy has over 3000 years of wine growing history and is the oldest German speaking wine growing area. Barely making up 1% of Italy’s total wine production, the 5300 hectares of vineyards are also the country’s smallest wine growing area. Alto Adige still boasts some 160 wineries and produces around 40 million bottles each year.
Each of the six mountain huts is set up with a selection of 30 different Alto Adige wines on a snow bar and each hut has a different variety than the last. Placards announced wines like Lagrein, Weiß Burgunder, Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, and Blauburgunder. We’d claim our glasses and get to tasting, taking our glasses over to the colorful lounge chairs perfectly placed for drinking in the views.
Each of the huts also had South Tyrolean products like speck, cheese, and bread to serve with the wine tastings. Famished from snowshoeing through the deep snow, I also indulged in the A Taste for Skiing tastings on offer at several of the huts.
You can also go on a gourmet ski safari, working your way around to 13 huts where 13 Michelin-starred and award-winning chefs create dishes and carefully select an Alto Adige wine to pair with it available with different chefs and menus each ski season. My favorites of the few I got to try were the croissants at Utia de Bioch by Chef Norbert Niederkoffer, a two Michelin-starred chef from St. Hubertus in San Cassiano and the bean soup at Utia l Tabla by Chef Arturo Spicocchi, a one Michelin-star chef from La Stua de Michil in Corvara.
Each mountain hut has a totally different vibe, some with live music while others have a DJ spinning or an accordionist entertaining skiers. But Utia Las Vegas is to be the place to see and be seen at the end of the day. A live band gets their groove thing on with hits from the 70s like Stayin’ Alive and More Than a Feeling.
The Wine Ski Safari a lot of fun and a really unique way to combine a love of winter sports with wine.
Skiing in Alta Badia
Declared a Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2009, there is no where more pristine and captivating for a ski holiday than Alta Badia, Italy. Each ski trail and mountain hut offers it own unique 360° panoramas of the mountains and valleys. That is if you can tear your eyes away from the majestic Marmolada, the highest mountain of the Dolomites towering at 10,968 feet (3343 meters).
Part of Dolomiti Superski, the world’s largest ski network, Alta Badia offers 130 kilometers of well-groomed pistes served by 53 easy-to-use ski lifts. As part of the Dolomiti Superski network, Alta Badia is just one of 12 ski regions all covered by the Dolomiti ski pass. Alta Badia is assured of good snow conditions because of its high altitude and blanket snow-making coverage of all the essential pistes.
Alta Badia is also part of the Sella Ronda, the most well-known ski route in the Dolomites . It’s a loop that either runs clockwise or counter clockwise around the massif of Sella mountain. The Sella Ronda is 26 kilometers of trails that can be accomplished in one day, and is something to proudly check off your ski bucket list. Tim has completed the Sella Ronda a couple of times now.
There’s plenty for the boarders too with aerials and moguls, jumps and bumps. Alta Badia Snowpark, between the slopes “La Frëina” and “Ciampai”, has got them all. There’s two sections: the upper section is for more experienced boarders and the lower section for newbies looking for a little action. Best of all, the Alta Badia Snowpark is free to use.
And for those that like a challenge, there’s skiing for the truly insane. Val Scura, or the Dark Valley, is where expert skiers can test their skills by climbing up the backside of the mountain and skiing down the 4.3 kilometer run with a vertical descent of 997 meters. The dizzying channel is so narrow, I imagine one wrong swoosh would send a skier bouncing down the mountain like a ball in a pinball machine. But the truly bad-ass skiers take on the Val Scura at least once each year.
Alta Badia for the Non-Skiers
You don’t have to don skis to enjoy Alta Badia. If like me, you actually can’t ski very well, there’s still plenty to do. There are more than 80 kilometers of signposted paths ideal for Nordic walking and snowshoeing. Every week there are guided snowshoe hikes and this is the perfect way to do some wildlife viewing of the rabbits, fox and roe deer that call Alta Badia home.
There are also toboggan trails. Check out the 3.5 kilometer long toboggan run from Piz Sorega.
Alta Badia’s Gastronomic Delights
We already mentioned the Michelin-starred A Taste of Skiing, but Alta Badia’s mountain huts offer up other mouth-watering Tyrolean cuisine. Ever had lobster at 2000 meters? We have, and it was delicious, by the way.
Alta Badia is also known for its Ladin cuisine – ancient recipes handed down through the families. Once considered a poor man’s cuisine because it was made from simple ingredients that could be produced on the farm, it’s now something very special that visitors to Alta Badia should try. Arrange a visit to one of the Ladin farmhouses, like Maso Runch where we had dinner, and try the Ladin tasting menu. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Know Before You Go
- This year’s Wine Ski Safari will take place on Sunday March 25th, 2018 and costs €30 per person. Tickets can be purchased at any of the participating huts.
- The A Taste for Skiing Card is also available for €50 per person and allows you to taste food at 4 huts.
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Our trip to Alta Badia and our Wine Ski Safari were hosted by Alta Badia Tourism in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own. This article contains affiliate links. When you book on Booking.com and shop on Amazon through our affiliate sites, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.