It just dawned on me that exactly one week ago today, we were hitting the Idaho wine trail, while today, we we are going wining again, here at home in Denver. HMMMMM! Me thinks there is a bit of theme going on here – Jeanne likes her wine. Did you pick up on that too or is it just me?
Idaho has a long history of wine production with the first vineyards in the Pacific Northwest being planted here in the 1860s. Like in other areas Prohibition in the United States virtually wiped out the Idaho wine industry in the early twentieth century, only to be resurrected in the 1970s. Idaho has been making wines for over 150 years. The first grapes planted in Idaho were actually grown in Lewiston in 1864. 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.
Today, most of Idaho’s grapes and vineyards run along the Snake River Valley.
Flying over the Snake River while coming into Idaho.
It was in the Snake River Valley 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 characteristic cold winters, which might at first seem a disadvantage, are in fact quite conducive, allowing vines to go dormant, to rest and conserve important carbohydrates for the coming season, while ridding the plants of bugs and discouraging disease. In addition, the region’s summer combination of cold nights and warm days serves to balance grape acids and sugars favorably. The Idaho wine industry has been a steadily growing community for the last 30 years with remarkable growth in the past decade. With 38 wineries in 2008, Idaho is now home to more than 60 wineries, with over 1,300 acres of grapes planted. Idaho wines have been discovered across the country ranking 22nd in the nation. It is just coming into its own, receiving a great deal of recognition, and winemakers and growers are learning as they go while making great wine along the way.
We certainly did NOT make all 60 wineries while in Idaho. We only went to 5, and even for me, an experienced wine drinker, I had been wined out for the day. But now that I know that are 60+ wineries and growing, that just gives me even more reasons to go back. I LOVE it!!!!!!
Scott, Traci, Karen and I met up with their friends Terry and Colleen, and the six of us all went a-wining together. Traci, Karen and Colleen all worked together back in Southern California for many years. The wineries we hit were all in Caldwell, Idaho. They were: 1) Sawtooth, 2) Hat Ranch, 3) Fujishin, 4) Koenig and 5) Parma Ridge. All of them offered delicious wines and all of them offered a fun and inviting atmosphere and ambience, with gorgeous views of the Snake River Valley as well.
First stop – Sawtooth Estate Winery, located at 19348 Lowell Road, Building C, Caldwell, ID 83607. They can be reached online at sawtoothwinery.com and by phone at (208) 467-1200 ext 5.
We all tried something different. Traci and Colleen both had the mimosa flights, and Karen Scott and I all had the white flights, but we all changed our wines around. Sawtooth offered a bunch of white wines from which to choose on their flights, and we all had something different. We also got a couple of appetizer plates as well. You know, wine and nibblies always go well together.
Now this is a BIG bottle of wine. This is an award winning magnum of a 2004 Syrah. I think we could definitely make a dent in this bottle.
#2 on the trail was Hat Ranch Winery, located at 15343 Plum Road, Caldwell, ID. You can contact them either by phone at (208) 994-6416 or online at http://www.hatranchwinery.com
Another wall of awarded wines.
When I asked for something explaining the history of Hat Ranch, I was directed to this neat little history board.
We all enjoyed some big reds here.
Next stop – Fujishin Family Cellars and & Free Dog Wines, located at 15593 Sunnyslope Road, Caldwell, Idaho. They can be reached online at http://www.ffcwine.com
More award winning wines here too.
We enjoyed a wide variety of wines here. Some of us had reds, some of had whites, and we all had a lot of laughs. I don’t know, do you think it was the wine that was making us laugh, or were we just having a lot of fun and good times? 🙂
Our 4th stop for the day was Koenig Vineyards, at 21451 Hoskins Road, Caldwell, Idaho. You can contact them at either (208) 459-4087 or at http://www.koenigvineyards.com.
Look at all these award winning wines on the wall.
Scott even purchased a bottle or two of bourbon as well.
Karen must have been very thirsty. She had her own bottle of Viognier.
I really enjoyed the viognier too. It was so smooth and creamy, almost like a rich and buttery chardonnay.
Colleen and Terry enjoying a nice Syrah.
Great wines shared with great friends, on a beautiful sunny day. Life is good.
We finished the day with one more winery, Parma Ridge, but I am going to have that one be its own post because we also enjoyed a delicious dinner there as well.
We had yet another fabulous day and thoroughly enjoyed all the wines we tried. At the end of the day, all the wineries we tried and all of us earned our “crowns of cork” for a job well done. We worked very hard this day. It’s a tough job to go out and enjoy so much good wine and to enjoy the company of great friends, but we all took our jobs very seriously and are proud of the work we did too. Our job here was done for the day. 🙂
Carpe diem. Seize the day, and enjoy some great wines along the way.