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Exploring Idaho Wine Country
The Idaho wine country is designated into 4 regions, the Northern, Southwestern, Southwestern Urban and the South Central. Whether you have a couple of hours or a couple of days, exploring Idaho Wine Country has never been easier.
Southwestern Wine Region
Idaho’s Treasure Valley is rich in resources. The four-season climate, ancient volcanic soil and abundant water supply make this an ideal place to grow grapes and make wine. The state’s heaviest concentration of wineries is within this region’s Sunnyslope Wine Trail, which is part of the Snake River Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA). The Snake River Valley AVA approved in April of 2007 encompasses 8,000 square miles with 1,125 acres currently planted. Overlaying the ancient Lake Idaho, the shoreline creates its natural boundaries. The Eagle Foothills AVA approved in November of 2015 encompasses 49,815 acres, fully within the Snake River Valley AVA with 67 acres planted.
Southwestern Urban Wine Region
This region is within the urban core of Idaho. Concentrated in the capital city of Boise and surrounding communities, these urban wineries and tasting rooms are nearby places to sip and sample what Idaho has to offer. In addition to wine, this region features a blend of accessible outdoor adventure, world-class cuisine and diverse arts and culture offerings.
Eagle Foothills Wineries
South Central Wine Region
Wineries in this region are just a short drive outside of Boise, making it an easy day trip for travelers and guests from around the state. In addition to local wineries are regional attractions like Craters of the Moon National Monument. Grapes from this region benefit from the area’s cold nights and hot summer days to create the perfect balance of natural sugars and acids.
Northern Wine Region
The Northern wine region is surrounded by Idaho’s majestic natural wonders and stretches across the panhandle of Idaho. Winery guests can take advantage of year-round activities and adventure. It is home to the Lewis-Clark Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA) that was approved in April of 2016. Encompassing 479 square miles with 100 vineyard acres currently planted. Lewis-Clark Valley AVA is made up of steep canyons of the Clearwater and mid-Snake Rivers and their tributaries.
FACTS & STATS
Known for its breathtaking wilderness and, perhaps more famously for potatoes, Idaho is also home to a fast-growing wine industry and fantastic wines. Nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Snake River, Idaho Wine Regions nurture the grapes with a moderate climate, limited precipitation, and a consistent growing season that adds complexity to the grapes.
The characteristically cold winters allow vines to grow dormant gradually while ridding the plants of bugs and discouraging disease. A combination of cold nights and hot days serves to balance acids and sugars. The limited amount of rainfall allows growers to control water through irrigation.
Idaho is known for growing and producing classic varieties including Syrah, Merlot, Riesling, and Chardonnay, along with more adventurous wines such as Tempranillo and Malbec.
Idaho Wine – 150 Years in the Making
It all starts with the grapes.
Well we better start with the beginning. Idaho is considered, by some, part of the new frontier of grape-growing areas in the United States. The first grapes planted in Idaho were actually grown in Lewiston in 1864.
John H. Thorngate Ph.D., formerly a professor at the University of Idaho, now Applications Chemist, Research & Development, Constellation Wines U.S., says, “in Idaho we’re the oft-forgotten ‘other’ state in the Pacific Northwest. Which is rather ironic, considering that the first wineries in the Pacific Northwest were located in Idaho, and that Idaho had a nationally renowned wine industry until Prohibition, as in other regions, closed the industry down.
Two French, Louis Desol and Robert Schleicher, and one German immigrant, Jacob Schaefer planted grapes in Idaho before any were planted in Washington or Oregon. They were winning awards around the country before Prohibition took a debilitating toll on the industry and brought production to an absolute halt. National prohibition, which followed state prohibition in 1916 and lasted until 1933, took its toll on the wine regions, its growers and makers, and it wasn’t until 1970 that wine grapes were again planted in Idaho, this time along the Snake River Valley in the southern part of the state where most of the state’s wineries are located.
It was in the Snake River Valley that that Idaho’s first American Viticultural Area (AVA) was approved in April 2007. Southwestern Idaho currently has the highest density of vineyards and wineries and includes the Snake River Valley AVA, which covers over 8,000 square miles with comparable latitudes to many famous wine-growing regions in the world. The immense size is a great advantage, allowing for tremendous growth. The approval of the AVA was a vast undertaking and has truly helped propel the industry, gaining attention around the world.
WINE BARS & SHOPS
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