Big Bear Lake Wine Room: The Perfect Après Ski

The Wine Room at Big Bear Lake
The Wine Room at Big Bear Lake

By Jack Dunphy

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Big Bear Lake California a must visit is the Wine Room. After your day of skiing at Snow Summit or hiking or any of the numerous outdoor activities here the Wine Room offers a delightful place to relax.

Snuggle up next to the warm stone fireplace with a choice of any of 600 different wines. Much of the seating is set up facing the fireplace so you can’t help but strike up a conversation with your neighbor. If you prefer you can sit at the attractive wood plank bar or a private table. I like the food menu – not too many choices.

My Panini with tomato and mozzarella went perfectly with my glass of Merlot. My bartender Kelly, on the job just three days, was all smiles telling me stories of Big Bear and local characters like her ex husband.

One unique service The Wine Room offers is a free shuttle service to anywhere in the Bear Valley if one feels they’d rather not drive after enjoying the wine. She introduced me to Jake the shuttle driver. I asked him what kind of condition a typical customer passenger of his is in.

He diplomatically replied, “most people I take home are not drunk, just tipsy.” I asked him how he got paid. He said “tips.” The shuttle services not only the Wine Room but the Wolf Creek Lodge, Bear Creek Lodge and Fireside Lodge.

What a potential vacation saving service! I soon found myself sharing the fireplace with two fun women enjoying a glass of wine after their 5.2 mile hike on the nearby Pacific Crest Trail. One of the hikers grew up two towns from my Western Massachusetts home. She moved to San Diego enough years ago I was able to fill her in on some good hometown gossip.

And I met the big-hearted Detective John Wijnhamer and his friend Abby Leffler. They were putting on a huge event the next day called the Polar Plunge. The Polar Plunge is a fund raiser for the Los Angeles Special Olympics.

Abby, as Regional Director of the Inland Empire, expects to raise $59,000 this year from the 375 people jumping into the 41 degree Big Bear Lake for the cause.

I really liked the Wine Room. A small live band created some old favorite songs not too loud to inhibit conversation. The Wine Room served up Interesting people happy to share a conversation. It also offers quite romantic corners for privacy. And good food with good wine. I just wish they would open one in my town!