On a late-summer afternoon warmed by the high-altitude sun, the clean scent of scraggly sagebrush wafting through the air, I followed a trail with other riders, tugging at the rein as my horse munched on high grass. The friendly wranglers discouraged us from allowing this “eating on the job,” but I couldn’t blame my horse, as we all anticipated liquid treats at the end of our dusty ride.
The ride was part of a themed Wine Weekend at Brush Creek Ranch, three historical guest ranches set on a 30,000-acre working cattle spread in Wyoming’s North Platte River Valley. The ranch partners with producers or swaps chefs with other resorts for a few days of grape-related fun. During my stay, Todd and Sarah Anderson of Napa’s Ghost Horse Vineyards were on hand, their small-production, high-end Cabernet Sauvignon in great demand.
Over three days guests met, mingled, swirled and sipped during a welcome wine reception, winemaker dinner in the resort’s cellar, brunch and an afternoon of horseback riding. After a two-hour ride with vistas that stretched on for miles, we ended at a pretty spot by the river. There resort wine director Sydney Werry welcomed us with glasses of Ghost Horse’s Chardonnay and Cab, cheeses made at the on-site creamery and elk charcuterie.
Brush Creek Ranch wrapped up this year’s Wine Weekends and will soon announce the 2024 lineup. But guests can still get an immersive wine and spirits experience at the resort’s area called The Farm, a 94-yard-long wine cellar holding 35,000 bottles of wine focusing on Bordeaux and large-format bottles, one of the largest collections at a resort in the world. Adjacent, the dimly lit Spirits Vault holds a hundred of the world’s rarest spirits including The Macallan 1950 and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-Year-Old, ready for tasting.
Next door, Brush Creek Distillery offers handcrafted spirits, and the special editions prove most noteworthy. The Heroes Edition Bourbon, a patriotic blend of crimson red, blue and white corn bourbons from Indiana, shows the pleasing flavor of caramel corn. The peppery Railroad Rye plays on spirits matured on a ship by rolling waves and temperature fluctuations, in this case loaded onto a rail cart to undertake the historic route of the Transcontinental Railroad.
Guests enjoy spirits, wine and cocktails at the resort’s three dining concepts. My favorite was lunch at the Pioneer Room with a view matched by a hyper-local menu melding the rugged with the refined in dishe like Wagyu burnt ends with pickled onions or an Ōra salmon bowl with edamame.
All would have paired perfectly with a chilled glass of rosé, which I declined because of post-lunch activities: tackling simulated moose and bears on the archery course, and firing rifles and handguns at the gun range. Not to worry: I knew a glass and an Adirondack chair awaited during happy hour on the Saloon front porch, with all of Wyoming stretched out before me.
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