Alyeska’s Seven Glaciers Wins Wine Spectator Award – Again
By Jeannine Stafford-Jabaay
Dining at the top of a mountain with a spectacular view while sipping a gorgeous wine may be the very definition of luxury. Beginning the meal’s journey on a tram that takes guests to 2,300 feet above sea level, fine dining meals are served high above Alyeska Resort with panoramic views of mountains, oceans and glaciers. Seven Glaciers Restaurant has once again been recognized by the Wine Spectator award they received.
There are many qualifying factors considered for the restaurants awarded with this distinguished achievement. Wine selections, price points, wine categories and menu appearance are among several of the considerations. Each restaurant that enters must send a copy of the current wine list and dinner menu to Wine Spectator where it is reviewed by a team of judges. These judges select which level the menu is worthy, taking into account wine regions, vintages, diversity, depth and a host of other things.
There are 3 levels to the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, going up in quality with each level: The Award of Excellence (denoted by a 1 wine glass logo), Best of Award of Excellence (2 wine glass logo), and Grand Award (3 wine glass logo). Seven Glaciers Restaurant at the top of Mt. Alyeska is pleased to be winner of the Best of Award, to which there are only 1,215 restaurants worldwide with that qualification.
Glacier City Gazette connected with Heather Ruhle, Beverage Manager at the restaurant, to ask about this prestigious award.
Q: How many years has Seven Glaciers received the Wine Spectator Award?
A: We have received the Award of Excellence since just after opening in 1996, and were upgraded to the Best of Award of Excellence in 2011. Looking at the breadth of the wine list, one can see that that’s when we got real serious about offering a multi-dimensional wine list.
Q: How does this award help the restaurant? Is there a physical trophy of certificate of printed publication?
A: It is always nice to be acknowledged for your hard work in any area, and having this award lets guests know that we work hard for our wine list. If a person is traveling in a new area of the world and wants to find a restaurant with a nice wine list, the Wine Spectator award can help with that. I have the Wine Spec app that helps you find the award winning restaurants around the world. I suppose the “trophy” per se is the different publications and apps that advertise for us and with us. And we do also get a nice certificate that we frame and hang inside the restaurant each year.
Q: Who chooses the wine selection for Seven Glaciers, and what is their job title? How long have they been with the restaurant?
A: I am the Beverage Manager for the Resort, and I have been with Alyeska for about a year and a half. While I am the main list builder, it is wholly a group effort with Seven Glaciers Chef Aaron [Apling-Gilman] and the team of talented servers up top. As we know, Girdwood gets skiers and explorers from all over passing through for a couple-year adventure, so this list has the benefit of additions from several different worldly palates over the years. Also, the resort’s owner, John Byrne, has a great appreciation for fine wine and is heavily involved in building our dynamic wine list.
Q: How many wines does Seven Glaciers offer? And what are the price points for the wine offerings?
A: At the time we submitted the list for award it was about 665 different wines, though I think we have grown a few more since then. We get complimented regularly on our prices of wines. We tend not to raise prices as wines age over the years. There’s some funny mathematical equations that let you add a certain percentage per year to fine wines, but we like to keep wines in a tangible range.
Q: How are the wines paired with the food selections offered at the restaurant?
A: Sometimes the wine is selected first and the food designed for it, and sometimes the dish is created first and the wine selected as accompaniment. We like to keep it interesting so we do a few different pairings.
Several nights a week, we will offer a Chef’s Tasting Menu that pairs premier wines with local farmers products and fresh harvested meat and seafood which guests can order off menu. A few times a year, we also offer full-coursed, reservation only, pairing dinners conducted with winemakers or featured wines of a theme.
In fact, we have one coming up that we are really looking forward to. Seven Glaciers will be hosting a Wines of the World four-course, six-wine pairing dinner Sept 14th as a fundraiser with Challenge Alaska. We have some cool aged wines coming out of the cellar for this one.
Reservations and inquiries to Seven Glaciers can be made at AlyeskaResort.com.