By Peg Kingery, Moscow Food Co-op Wine Buyer
June was first designated as Idaho Wine Month in 2009, but the state’s wine industry has a much longer history. The first grapes planted in the Pacific Northwest were in Lewiston, Idaho in 1864. The wines made from these grapes won national awards until Prohibition put an abrupt halt to the industry.
It wasn’t until 1970 that grapes were again planted in Idaho, this time in the Snake River Valley in the southern part of the state. In April 2007, Idaho’s first American Viticulture Area (AVA) was approved in this area. Two others have followed: Eagle Foothills AVA (2015) and Lewis-Clark Valley AVA (2016).
The Lewis-Clark Valley AVA is located in the canyonlands formed by the Snake and Clearwater Rivers near Lewiston and Clarkston, Washington, less than 50 miles away. Both northern and southern Idaho offer ideal growing conditions for grapes. The soils are composed primarily of volcanic ash. Long, warm daylight hours, combined with cool summer evenings, contribute to producing quality grapes with concentrated fruit flavors and high acidities. The most common varietals grown are chardonnay, riesling, and cabernet sauvignon; however, many wineries are also successfully growing malbec, petite sirah, tempranillo and others.
Idaho’s wine industry has been growing steadily for the last 30 years. Idaho is home to over 50 wineries, with 1600 acres of vineyards. Most of these wineries are located in the southern part of the state. According to a study done by the Idaho Wine Commission, the industry had a $169.3 million dollar impact in 2013 and created 1,226 full-time jobs. They predict these numbers will continue to increase as Idaho wines gain more and more popularity across the country.
Moscow Food Co-op carries wines from many of Idaho’s wineries, including those locally-produced by Camas Prairie Winery, Clearwater Canyon Cellars, Colter’s Creek Winery, and Lindsay Creek Vineyards. Throughout the month of June, winemakers and industry representatives of these and other Idaho wineries will be pouring their wines in-store for customers to taste.
Plan on joining us at these tastings! All tastings are from 5 to 7 p.m. except Lindsay Creek Vineyards which is from 12 to 2 pm.
- Friday, June 10th – Colter’s Creek Winery and Camas Prairie Winery
- Thursday, June 16th – Sheppard’s Fruit Wines
- Friday, June 17th – Cinder Winery, Hells Canyon Winery, and Zhoo Zhoo Winery
- Saturday, June 18th – Lindsay Creek Vineyards
- Thursday, June 23rd – Clearwater Canyon Cellars
- Friday, June 24th – Ste. Chapelle Winery and Sawtooth Winery