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The Gem State has a liquid gem, WINE! Top Idaho Wines are waiting for you. There are two very distinctive wine regions with their own benefits. South-Western Idaho has rich soil and early season wines that create sweet, delightful white wines. Northern Idaho offers its grapes long dry growing season that leaves more space for a mature wine with complex hues to develop. Either way, Idaho is a great place to start exploring the other 46 percent of wine.
The great grapes of Idaho are along the Western edge of the state because of the relatively long and warm growing period, and while the Eastern edge of the state offers a wide selection of beer, that’s not what we are here for. It makes an incredibly convenient for anyone looking to roadtrip through all of Idaho’s best wineries, or come from larger wineries in Washington, Oregon, or California. Here are our tips on Top Idaho Wines.
Northern Idaho Wineries
Northern Idaho wineries are a perfect place for an adventure if you’ve just made your way through Walla Walla wine country (or a couple bottles from there) and want to try something delicious. Northern Idaho offers some of the longest established wineries in the NorthWest, and the dry autumns mean wonderful, exceptionally sweet Chardonnays.
Wineries like Colter’s Creek in Juliaetta (about a hundred miles from Spokane), ClearWater (only open Saturday, but available all the way out to Seattle), and Coeur d’Alene Cellars are all great examples of wineries with great tasting rooms and views. These northern Idaho wines are very similar to the eastern Washington Wines you might be used to, but have more remote wineries, and a sweeter flavor due to the arid climate. These are a must visit for anyone looking for a beautiful drive and a dessert wine for autumn afternoons.
Southern Idaho has a super arid climate which makes wonderful Malbecs and Sirahs. The sprawling vineyards in the South Western part of the state are among some of the most scenic, and often offer tours. Just be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen or a big hat to hide the sun, because these beautiful vineyards have sunny summers and are not often surrounded by the evergreen forests that you find in Washington, Oregon, or Northern Idaho (which makes the grapes grown there even better!).
If you are a wine lover who loves an adventure, but doesn’t want to leave the city, there are several tasting rooms in Boise which offer a collection of the surrounding areas and that can allow you to try more regional wines in a single trip, although 3 Horse Ranch and St. Chapelle are only about 35 miles apart, and from St. Chapelle to Hell’s Canyon Winery it’s only a mile! So travelling out to the countryside will pay off, and it’s not that much effort if you plan well.
Tips And Tricks
A few things to keep in mind before coming out to wineries: do you have money that they will take, are you prepared for the elements, and who is your designated driver/where are you staying? Instead of showing up in wine country trying to google where is apple pay accepted (even though it should be everywhere) take some cash for the ma and pa wineries that might not accept cards. It’s always wise to have a designated driver, but out in Idaho wine country, it’s practically mandatory. There aren’t accommodations available at the wineries, and a small drive will be required.
If you’re staying in wine country and looking to escape noisy neighbors, Idaho is covered in free camp-grounds, or there are several charming bed and breakfasts in the area. There are also major cities around the secluded wineries which are quite pleasant (like Moscow and Coeur D’Alene in the north and Boise and Eagle in the south).
Why should you come to Idaho? Because it’s gorgeous, economically priced, and full of amazing vineyards that you’ve never seen. While our neighbors over in Oregon and Washington offer a weed and wine experience (or food and wine pairings like never seen before), Idaho offers it’s own particular taste which can’t be missed. Plus, some fruit-y additions in Idaho wine, like the plum port from Crossings winery mean that Idaho wine can be savoured by wine lovers and those with a sweet tooth alike. Just be careful, as the old myth that the darker the wine, the more alcoholic is not exactly true with these flavored goodies. Idaho wine is the taste of the late autumn sun, sweet, hot, and shining its brightest right before winter comes down on it. I’d highly recommend checking out a few of the Gem State Treasures.
Mary Grace | November 29, 2016
Mary Grace lives in the beautiful Boise, Idaho. She loves hiking skiing, and everything in between. You can always tweet her @marmygrace, or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to talk about travel!