Montana’s wide-open spaces set the stage for a fantastic getaway in the spring, summer, and fall. Add some snow, seasonal sports, log cabins, roaring fires, delicious food, and spectacular wine, now you have the ideal winter wonderland escape. Each year Triple Creek Ranch puts together several Weekend Vintner Events, and each weekend focuses on a celebrated winery from Northern California or the Pacific Northwest.
Vintner Weekends boast guided wine tastings by renowned winemakers or winery representatives and numerous opportunities for guests to sip on traditional and specialty wines throughout the weekend. Saturday nights feature a delectable wine-paired dinner. Whether you are a newbie to wine or a true connoisseur, these wine-oriented weekends and all of their associated activities make an excellent excuse to flee to the Montana mountains.
My husband Steve and I traveled to Montana in February to attend the Schramsberg/Davies Vintner Weekend at Triple Creek Ranch. It was an excellent way to spend Valentine’s Weekend. Everything was included: winetastings, meals, exciting activities, and the opulent log cabin.
The fun began with the Vintner Welcome Reception and a glass of Schramsberg’s Mirabelle Brut Rosé NV. We met guests from all over the country, many of which were Schramsberg/Davies wine club members. These guests were familiar with the wines, so I asked lots of questions and was thrilled with the insider information I received over the weekend. After mingling for a while in the Rooftop Lounge, Steve and I made our way to the dining room.
Steve dined on monkfish with creamy polenta, roasted Roma tomatoes, sauteed zucchini, pecorino, and basil-truffle aioli. I savored the crispy, pan-roasted quail with celery root puree, melted cabbage, turnip and potato hash, cider gastrique, and crispy prosciutto. Matt, the ranch sommelier, paired our meal with a delicious bottle of Davies 2014 Pinot Noir from Hyde Vineyards.
Steve and I decided to savor a lazy morning in our pajamas by the fire. We ordered a plate of scrambled eggs with cream cheese, onion, tomato, and alfalfa sprouts along with Irish Cream French Toast made with Montana French bread, Bailey’s Irish Cream egg batter, and pure Vermont maple syrup. A side of ham and bacon completed the meal. Soon the tasty breakfast was delivered to our room to enjoy with freshly made piping hot coffee.
The log cabins at Triple Creek Ranch are warm and welcoming. A caramel-colored leather chair and matching loveseat took center stage in the living room near the wood fireplace. Gold-shaded lamps lit the room, and a built-in desk hid in the corner just in case someone chose to do a little work while on vacation. Enormous picture windows lined the back wall of the cabin and invited white winter-kissed trees into view.
The kitchenette afforded a mini-refrigerator and coffee pot. The kitchen cupboard came stocked with ground coffee, an assortment of teas, and all the usual condiments for a cup of morning brew. The luxurious bedroom featured a king-size bed and a gigantic bathroom with a shower that doubled as a steam room.
Montana is all about outdoor adventures, and Triple Creek Ranch offers numerous options, including hatchet throwing, fire branding, archery, cross-cut sawing, geocaching, and orienteering. Steve and I worked on our skills throughout the late morning.
Schramsberg/Davies Wine Tasting
On Friday afternoon, we sat in the living room of an extra-large cabin with approximately ten other couples. The resort split up the weekend attendees into two groups so that the formal wine tasting was more intimate. Matt and Fred Zammtaro, the CPA and Principal at Schramsberg, hosted the tasting. Although we were offered Schramsberg and Davies wines at each lunch, dinner, and happy hour throughout the weekend, this was our chance to taste and get a more in-depth education about four different sparkling wines, two pinot noirs, and two cabernet sauvignons. Fred, his wife Cheryl, and Matt made it a fun and entertaining experience.
Each evening the bartending staff crafted a couple of cocktails made from Schramsberg/Davies wines. Steve and I visited with other guests in the lounge, where I tried Mirabelle bubbles with apple brandy, cider, and a cinnamon stick. It was light and refreshing.
After some light conversation and tasty cocktails, we moved into the dining room. Dinner continued with additional wine offerings paired with pan-seared New York strip steak with horseradish espuma over potatoes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, wild mushrooms, and cipollini onions.
Saturday’s Wilderness Experiences
Each season the ranch offers a plethora of different outdoor activities. In winter guests can choose to snowshoe hike, cross-country ski, downhill ski, snowmobile, ride the fat tire snow bikes, dogsled, or ride horseback. During this all-inclusive weekend experience, it’s easy to pack your days with fun adventures.
We joined a meditative snow hike with the yoga instructor. The thermostat registered negative one degree, so we bundled up, braved the cold, and kept moving. After our rejuvenating snow hike, we spent the remainder of the day relaxing and meandering around the ranch. The snow was plentiful, and the icicles hanging off the building roofs were stunning.
The Main Event
The multi-course, wine-paired dinner began around 6:00 p.m. During the previous day’s wine tasting, Fred asked me if I had ever sabered a bottle of bubbles. The answer was no. He asked if I would like to try and I agreed. On Saturday night, Fred gave me some instructions and handed me the saber before dinner.
The first course consisted of scallops with black truffle risotto and a little pineapple. The sweet fruit married amazingly well with the blanc de blanc bubbles; this was my favorite pairing.
After the first course, Fred introduced me to the crowd, and I stood facing the open door. The saber challenge was a success; I sliced off the end of the bottle, and the bubbles flowed! I was so shocked at how easy it was that I almost let the entire contents of the bottle pour out. Thankfully, Fred was watching, and he rescued what remained in the bottle.
The next course was the duck rillette followed by a tender chunk of bison. We finished the meal with a fabulous vanilla cheesecake perched on a bed of passion fruit sauce and topped with passion fruit pearls. Each course arrived with another delicious bottle of Schramsberg/Davies wine.
Sunday morning, we ventured out for a wild ride on a dogsled. The excursion was relaxing and an exhilarating way to explore the forest. The dogs yelped and jumped around when we arrived. They were raring to go; but once we sped off into the snow, they settled down to work. It soon became relatively quiet. Our tour lasted a couple of hours. It was a serene experience as a rider, but I cannot imagine how people spend days mushing these gorgeous animals through the ice and snow day after day. It is just too cold and a lot of work!
After our tour with the dogs, we came in for a quick lunch and then headed over to the stables for a delightful horseback ride in the snow. The adventurous opportunities never seem to end at Triple Creek Ranch. The only difficulty is determining how much time you want to spend relaxing versus exploring. There is a beautiful spa that we had no time to enjoy.
Vintner Wine Weekends are fabulous. However, next time I plan to add a few extra days on either side of the weekend to experience everything the ranch has to offer.