Lake Tahoe is not what you’d call wine country. But the area does boast a smattering of wine bars and shops dedicated to the craft. And there are few seasons better to enjoy these cozy hideouts than winter.
Below are Tahoe Magazine’s lucky seven spots that are sure to satisfy your urge to imbibe:
Nepheles - South Lake Tahoe
The quaint South Shore refuge celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. Billed as “creative California cuisine,” Nepheles is perfect for visitors looking for a quiet upscale escape. The menu includes fresh dishes like New Zealand rack of lamb and scaloppini. Nepheles is widely known for its wine selection and perfect pairings. Wine Spectator Magazine gave the establishment an Award of Excellence for its discerning tastes. After dinner, try Nepheles’ dessert or take a dip in one of its private spas, available for hourly rentals.
Paint and Sip Studio - South Lake Tahoe
Not into just sipping? South Lake Tahoe’s Paint & Sip Studio adds some color to your evening glass. Each night, aspiring artists gather to enjoy some time in front of the easel. Typically, painters focus on a theme, like “Secrets of Tahoe” or “East Shore Sunsets,” but there are no rules in art. The 2-hour sessions include everything from aprons to brushes and canvas. Wines include selections from larger California vineyards. Paint & Sip also has a few beers on tap and non-alcoholic beverages. Prefer to bring your own bottle? The corkage fee is only $15.
Revive Coffee and Wine - South Lake Tahoe
Nestled in the pines in South Lake Tahoe’s Al Tahoe neighborhood, Revive is one of those hidden gems. On snowy days, cuddle up on the shop’s couches and sip from its ever-changing selection of reds, whites, rosé and sparkling wines. Looking for something warmer? The barista-trained staff serves traditional and specialty coffee drinks. The simple food menu has a selection of paninis and tasty appetizers like bacon-wrapped dates. For breaks in the weather, Revive’s outside area has a few fun games to play with the family, or walk over and enjoy a winter view of the lake from nearby Lakeview Commons.
The Cork & More - South Lake Tahoe
A one-stop shop for fine delicatessen, the South Shore market has everything from hundreds of the latest vintages to charcuterie. Owners Karla and Jeff Brennan bought the store in 2006 and have carried on its tradition for quality foods and interesting retail items. It’s a great place to stop if you’re searching for a new favorite glass or a specialty kitchen item. In addition, The Cork & More has a selection of cheeses and tasty made-to-order sandwiches, perfect for a to-go lunch on the mountain.
Uncorked - Tahoe City
For a truly impressive variety, you must visit Uncorked, which has locations in Tahoe City, Squaw Valley and Historic Downtown Truckee. The North Shore franchise has dozens of bottles of high-quality vintages. Uncorked has daily tastings and a posh interior that’s ideal for quiet relaxing after a day of snow play. Winemakers frequently visit Uncorked, the calendar of events for which is available online. For devoted drinkers, the company’s wine club offers a way to try different selections. Members receive two bottles a month.
Glasses - Incline Village
The Incline Village stop knows its wines, but the fun twist here is that owners Rob and Kathleen Martens let machines do the pouring. With state-of-the-art wine dispensers, guests are free to pour as much or as little as they prefer, all based on a token system. Glasses usually has 16 wines available in its two dispensers, and another eight wines behind the bar. The selection changes often. To keep customers entertained, the owners have stocked a handful of board games and a small library of books. Light snacks and a few beers and non-alcoholic beverages are available. On special occasions, the wine bar books local musicians.
The Pour House - Truckee
Truckee’s favorite wine shop, located just behind downtown on Jibboom Street, keeps a dynamic assortment of more than 350 fine pours. The Pour House keeps its list of wines, arranged lightest in body to heaviest, online for everyone to view. Staff works hard to stock bottles for every budget, from $50 Napa zinfandel to $10 pinot grigio. The little shop also carries a bevy of cheeses for a perfect aprés snack. The Pour House’s wine club has two levels — a $30/month option (the Poor House) and $50/month option (the Big House). Or, for those who aren’t into commitment, stop in for a tasting.
Dylan Silver is a Lake Tahoe writer and photographer. More of his work is available on his website dylansilver.com.
This story originally appeared in the winter edition of Tahoe Magazine.