By Michelle Locke, Associated Press
Enjoying good wine in the great outdoors is fun, but toting glass bottles on the trail is no picnic.
Enter the new crop of alternatively packaged wines in cartons, cans and other trail-ready options.
(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS)
Sure, for actual hydration you'll want to tote along water or whatever energy drink you favor. But for that moment when the hike is done, the mountain bike path conquered, or you're just relaxing and grilling a few steaks on a lazy Sunday, these wines make it easy to blend libations with explorations.
As Brad Day, a wine lover and outdoorsman who runs the outdoor activities website WeekendSherpa.com puts it, "It adds a nice element to sitting back and enjoying the natural surroundings."
So here are some wines that make good traveling partners.
The Climber is billed as "all-terrain wine transport," and it is. Available in chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon, this wine comes in a foil pouch with a hole punched at the top so it can be clipped to a backpack with a carabiner hook. It shouldn't come as a big surprise that The Climber comes from Clif Family Winery founded by Gary Erickson and wife Kit Crawford, the people behind the Clif energy bar. The Climber is widely available and also can be found at the Clif winery tasting room Vela Vino in St. Helena, a popular spot with bicyclists. The pouch holds the equivalent of two regular bottles and has a suggested retail of $17, so the wine is light on your wallet as well as your pack. The winery works with the group 1 Percent for the Planet, and 1 percent of Climber sales go to charity, in this case a partnership with Trees for the Future. What to pair with it? Gorp is good, or if you want to go a little more upscale you might try the Smoked Paprika Almonds from the Gary & Kit's Napa Valley line of snacks.
You may be more used to seeing beer in cans, but there are a few wines available in aluminum. A fun wine to try is Sofia minis from the Francis Ford Coppola winery. This is the winery's Sofia blanc de blancs sparkling wine that is a blend of pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and muscat, but in a pink 187-milliliter can, complete with a tiny straw (suggested retail $5). Another option is FLASQ wines from JT Wines. These are sold in 375-milliliter aluminum half bottles that chill quickly and are recyclable. Available in chardonnay, merlot and a cuvee blanc (a white blend), they come with a suggested retail of $5.99 to $7.99. Finally... a wine you can drop.
Several wines are available in cartons and a reliable line is Bandit wines from Napa Valley winemaker Joel Gott. Available in several varietals and blends, including sangria, the wines are available in 1-liter or 500-milliliter boxes and are priced at around $9 for the liter. Or, if you're going to be gone for a while or have a crowd with you, you could kick it old-school and go with one of the bag-in-box wines that hold the equivalent of four bottles. Day recalls going for a backpacking trip with friends and toting along some Black Box Wines, one of the pioneers in putting quality wine in a box. Since every ounce counts when you're hiking the trails, they disposed of the box and carried only the bag. The hike was hiked. The wine was drunk. And when they were done, they blew the bag back up to make a pillow. Now that's a versatile varietal.