Idaho Wine Month Part 1 featuring Williamson’s Sangiovese and Viognier

When people think of wine, they think Napa, or California, Washington, Oregon or New York because these are the regions of the US that make the most wine that is the most readily available in retail markets.

But wine is actually made in all 50 states! And some of it is actually very good! In January, we wrote about a wine from New Jersey, and I really like the wines I’ve tasted from Colorado.

And when I was at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, there were a few wines from Idaho so when we traveled to Yellowstone in 2011, we bought and enjoyed Idaho wines with our meals, and I made a point of visiting a few wineries along the Snake River as well. I was very impressed with the quality and the prices were amazing.

Surprised there is great wine in Idaho? One former potato farmer now vinter told me in 2011 that if the weather is right to grow potatoes, you can grow grapes — the most important element each needs is significant diurnal variation — hot during the day and cold at night.

Idaho’s cold winters allow vines to go dormant, rid plants of bugs, and discourages disease. Summer time’s cold nights cool the grapes which balances the acids with the sugars that come as the grapes ripen during the long, hot, sunny days: in a 24 hours period, temperatures can fluctuate between 30-40 degrees!  Along the Snake River, the days are HOT but at night they cool down to very pleasant temperatures in the 50s.

Another factor is DIRT: Idaho’s rich, volcanic soils have attracted grape growers for over 150 years. Because southern Idaho offers ideal growing conditions, it was one of the first places in the west to have a thriving wine industry — that is until Prohibition snuffed it out and other crops took its place. Continue reading