Vermont…. its vino and stunning heart healthy hiking!

Having just returned from an extraordinary week of glorious hiking, delicious healthy foods, of exercise classes to grow your strength, flexibility and peace of mind we feel compelled to share with you a taste of our Green Mountain state experience.  Naturally no visit would be complete for The Wine Ladies without a taste of Vermont vino, which we also explored and enjoyed at one of Vermont’s finest!

Killing it in Killington, feels so good!

Killington Vermont is located in the Green Mountains of Central Vermont, just off Route 4, where one can enjoy a plethora of stunning hiking trails along the iconic Long Trail. Completed in 1930, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance backpacking trail in the United States, running the length of the state over a 272-mile long distance. Many a hiker, called “thru hikers” takes on the challenge to complete the trail in one continuous trip, which can take up to 2-4 weeks.

We had the opportunity to meet up with a few of this select group, easily identified by the 50-75 pound bulging backpacks, heavily worn boots, and tired yet cheerful hikers. Vermont’s LT begins at the Massachusetts border and along approximately one third of the way one will reach the town of Killington. An area well known and sought after as a destination for Killington and Pico Mountain ski resorts as well as the spectacular hiking trails these summits allow for the hikers.

Very much in need for a re-set after a fabulous indulgent summer of fine wine and fine barbeque fare we heed our call to the New Life Hiking Spa located in Mendon, Killington.

Thank you Jimmy LeSage, to the Founder and Director of the spa celebrating its 40th anniversary. Jimmy was one of the pioneers in creating destination spa wellness vacations, being one of the first of its kind to open in the country in 1978.

Today it has been heralded by Travel + Leisure magazine as “WORLD’S BEST AWARDS 2016 #1 Destination Spa in the United States”, “A Top Ten Wellness Retreat Pick” by MSN, and “A Top 10 Wellness Spa” by Spafinder. After our 6-day excursion of adventure, healthy meals and spa treatments, we must concur, we returned home totally de-stressed and recharged ready to take on the hustle and the bustle of the fall and upcoming busy season ahead.

A day in the life at New Life Hiking Spa…

Every morning we arise bright and early ready to take on the morning stretch class followed by the relaxing martial arts practice called qigong. Breakfast, with four options every morning, always with fruit to start, offers up either a protein shake, scrambled eggs accompanied by a hardcore healthy muffin, a quiche of the day or oatmeal served with fresh walnuts and raisins.

No time to laze around, the hiking guides assemble at 8:30 a.m. ready to group the hikers according to their fitness level and/or how the guests are feeling. They offer up great hiking for every level along nature walks, wooded trails and ancient ways to steeper more challenging terrain and distances. The hiking guides are truly amazing, providing a friendly and supportive environment for a total mind-body tune up to get you back on track physically and de-stress mentally. So knowledgeable about the trails, including the Appalachian Trail, which joins the LT here in Killington, they are venerable informants on all kinds of vegetation, the birds, the landscape and the history of this region.

Most hikes get us back to the home base just in time for lunch, and you are hungry!  Again clean, healthy delicious meals every day, one of our faves the quesadillas!  Eat up; there are still 3 or 4 classes on the schedule including water aerobics, again one of our faves.

And then there’s dinner, okay so there is not a glass of Chardonnay chilling at our place setting but there is a delicious meal to close off the day. Whether it is grilled shrimp on a skewer, a bison burger or pasta primavera, always delish! Oh and did we mention always a dessert?  The chocolate pudding cake is die to for!

Finally after our day on the trail and our classes we enjoy a massage, or perhaps a facial or another service in the Spa. Perfect before we lay our heads to rest and prep for the next day where we begin all over again. We never thought we would appreciate ground hog day as much as we did at the New Life Hiking Spa!

We have to credit Jimmy LeSage for founding this spa and spearheading the concept of hiking and wellness vacations over 40 years ago.  Today this style of vacation has become very popular with a great variety of them being offered.
Jimmy’s happens to be one of the most affordable and puts this wellness-focused style of vacation in reach for many that otherwise may not be available to them to experience and greatly benefit from.

Listen to Jimmy LeSage on The Wine Ladies Audio Podcast.

This year Jimmy is also launching a book “New Life Hiking Spas’ Forty Years of Authentic Wellness.” The objective is to “help one find a prolonged system for handling eating, fitness and overall wellness in your lifestyle”

When asked where an occasional glass of wine might fit into the LeSage plan here’s what Jimmy had to say about that.
“We believe in everything in moderation. At New Life we do not allow it in our serving areas but we have no problem with customers that want to go somewhere and enjoy outside our dining room” Sounds fair enough to us!
We’ll be interviewing Jimmy on our radio show in the fall and look forward to learning more about his discoveries over the years and his multi-dimensional approach to wellness today.

Diets Don’t Work
Fads WON’T Work
Non-Food NEEDS to go
Calories DON’T count
Weight DOESN’T matter

Jimmy’s message stresses the points above and provides a counter intuitive approach to letting go of dieting! Eureka!

An Unlikely Vineyard….

It is Day 7 and we are on the road, heading home. Feeling fabulous we are about to embark on what many might say is an “unlikely vineyard” that is grape vines growing in Vermont. “An Unlikely Vineyard” is actually the title of a book penned by author and Vermont winery owner Deirdre Heekin. Yes, believe it or not the Green Mountain State with its very cold winters, most associated with supreme skiing grows grapes and makes some great wine! Not with the varietals we all know, the vitus vinifera but others that are more suitable to the deep cold!

Our connection to the vino in Vermont came to us via the Boyden Valley Winery, one of the first two licensed wineries in the state started in 1997. Although founded twenty years ago the Boyden family has been cultivating the 800-acre Boyden Farm for over 100 years and five generations.

Here are a few fun facts about Vermont vino that we gleaned from founder David Boyden.

We had to ask David, “How old or new is the wine industry in Vermont and which grapes can make it here in this brrrr cold?

We confirm that the birth of the Vermont wine industry was indeed in 1997 with the opening of Boyden Valley Winery and Snow Farm Winery.
To date new wineries are opening steadily and at last count there were close to twenty. David goes on to say that most vitus vinifera grapes like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, for example don’t like the Vermont cold. But what grapes do? “ The grapes that we grow here are all hybrid grape – many of which have been hybridized by Cornell and the University of Minnesota – specifically for our loamy soils and harsh winters.  Many are able to withstand up to -35 degrees Fahrenheit”

Vermont is also known for their meads, ciders and fruit wines. We have not had the opportunity this time around to sample those but we do crack open a bottle of their COWTIPPER, a semi-dry white wine, likened to a Riesling, aromatic and fresh with notes of pear, apricot and hints of citrus.

Next we sample the Riverbend Red; likened more to a bigger Pinot Noir and made with two varietals you know Syrah and Baco Noir. Neither of these wines is available in the Canadian market but the wines of Boyden Valley winery produce some of the most acclaimed from the Northeast! Thank you David and Brigit for sharing and for your hospitality, we were certainly not aware of the scope of winemaking in this Green Mountain state.

Cheers to all, come to Vermont, come to hike, to embrace the fresh air, enjoy the people, the New Life Hiking Spa and of course the wine!

For more info on Boyden Valley Winery visit
And for additional info on New Life Hiking spa visit www.newlifehikingspacom

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