Idaho’s Up-and-Coming Wineries Deliver Bold Tastes and Impeccable Views
Dry days and cool nights give Idaho grapes great acidity and rich flavor.
By Shannon Borg
October 20, 2017
Check out the rest of our 7 Best Wine Destinations in the Pacific Northwest here.
Wine grapes have been grown in Idaho since the mid-1800s, and although the industry has developed slowly, the state is becoming recognized for having an excellent climate for wine. There are more than 50 wineries in Idaho, divided into three main regions: the North Wine Region (from Lewiston north), the Southwest Wine Region (around Boise) and the South Central Wine Region in the Snake River Valley (near Boise and Twin Falls). You can taste everything from Chardonnay to Zinfandel.
One of the best areas for touring is the Snake River Valley, where you can sip crisp whites, bracing bubbles and bold reds. This part of Idaho has hot, dry days and cool nights, letting the grapes develop good acidity and full, ripe flavors.
Ste. Chapelle, the largest and oldest continuously running winery, founded in 1975, is an essential stop on any tour of the area. Winemaker Meredith Smith (also the winemaker for nearby Sawtooth Winery) creates lovely sparkling wines as well as award-winning red and white still wines, such as the Panoramic Idaho Malbec, and a light and flavorful Chardonnay, which you can taste while standing on the winery decks overlooking the stunning Snake River Valley.
The family-run Koenig Vineyards and Koenig Distillery make the most of Idaho’s bounty of potatoes, grapes and other fruit. Brothers Andy and Greg Koenig have been making wine in the area since 1995, with excellent reds, whites and dessert wines. A new tasting room now includes the Koenig Distillery, where the Koenigs produce vodka, brandy and whiskey as well. Nearby is the excellent Bitner Vineyards, a LIVE-certified (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), sustainable winery with panoramic views of the valley, a small bed-and-breakfast inn and weekly concerts by local musicians.
Photo courtesy of Ste. Chappelle
When you are done with all that wine tasting, head to Boise to spend the night at the Inn at 500 Capitol, a new boutique hotel, or the mid-century-style Modern Hotel and Bar. Fuel up at the Bittercreek Alehouse with hearty burgers and local ales, or enjoy a swanky cocktail and a chop at its sister establishment, Red Feather Lounge.
Take It Home:
Ste. Chapelle Treasure Valley Reserve Sparkling Brut, $16
A traditional sparkling wine with citrus, green apple and mineral notes.
Koenig Vineyards 2015 Dry Rosé, $16
A crisp, clean pink with bright fruit and floral aromas.
Bitner Vineyards 2013 Erletxe Tempranillo, $35
An earthy, fruity red with aromas of tobacco and cherry.
The Snake River Valley, in southwest Idaho near Boise, is about an eight-hour drive from Seattle. Several airlines also offer direct flights (about one and a half hours) between Seattle and Boise.
Bitner Vineyards, Caldwell, 16645 Plum Road; 208.455.1870
Bittercreek Alehouse and Red Feather Lounge, Boise, 246 N Eighth St.; 208.429.6340
Inn at 500 Capitol, Boise, 500 S Capitol Blvd.; 208.227.0500; $220–$365
Modern Hotel and Bar, Boise, 1314 W Grove St.; 208.424.8244; $120–$150
Ste. Chapelle, Caldwell, 19348 Lowell Road; 208.453.7843