By Peg Kingery, 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 canyon lands formed by the Snake and Clearwater Rivers; it is less than 50 miles from Moscow and encompasses both Lewiston and Clarkston, Washington.
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, merlot, syrah, and cabernet sauvignon; however, many wineries are also successfully growing malbec, petite sirah, tempranillo, grenache, and others.
Idaho’s wine industry has been growing steadily for the last 30 years. Idaho is home to over 50 wineries, with 1,300 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. In 2016, Idaho wineries produced 390,000 gallons of wine. The commission predicts these numbers will continue to increase as Idaho wines gain increasing popularity across the country.
The 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! Thursday and Friday tastings are from 5 - 7 p.m. and Saturday tastings are from 12 - 2 p.m.
- Friday, June 2 – Colter’s Creek Winery and Koenig Vineyards
- Thursday, June 8 – Sheppard’s Fruit Wines
- Friday, June 16 – Cinder Winery, Sawtooth Winery, Ste Chapelle Winery and Indian Creek Winery
- Saturday, June 17 – Father’s Day Wines from Ste Michelle Estates
- Friday, June 23 – Clearwater Canyon Cellars
- Saturday, June 24 – Lindsay Creek Vineyards