Do you know that wine is grown and made commercially in every state in the union? Many of these wineries are small and local, and some rely on grape juice that’s shipped in from more prolific areas, like California.
Throughout the Unites States, farmers are converting their pastures, fields, and orchards into vineyards — and growing grapes in some unexpected places.
Like Indiana. We loved this Moscato blended with blueberries from Oliver!
Like Maryland. This June on Tuesdays at 6pm Pacific time, Tina Morey is leading the #WineStudio group on a focus on the regenerative agriculture efforts of three siblings at Old Westminster Winery in Maryland. Back in 2009, the family wanted “to preserve our farm and put the land to work” and they found themselves “abducted by the idea of planting a vineyard. We all agreed that growing and making wine that reflects our land through a vineyard was an exciting proposition.” (I sure wish I had joined in the fun this month! But June just looked too uncertain and Sue feels too much pressure during twitter chats so we’ve mostly cut those out so we can focus more on wines and pairings.)
Like Texas. Our #WinePW group will be writing about these wines this fall!
Like Nevada. Did you know there are vineyards just off the 395 just west of Lake Tahoe and south of Reno? That area of the Great Basin Desert has long had pastures and orchards. You can even camp there and stay in a Vintage Trailer at the open almost any day now Vintage Trailer Vineyard; soon they will have their first commercial vintages.
Like Idaho — the focus of this and other articles this month. Because we’re celebrating Idaho Wine Month!
In 2011, on a road trip from Yellowstone home, we traveled through Idaho to get to Walla Walla, Oregon, and northern California. I fell in love with the earthy, mineral laden, and affordable Idaho wines — as well as the landscape and the hot springs! Boise was a much more interesting city than I had imagined and while I did have a 7 year old with me and not a lot of time, I visited a few wineries and I was inspired to learn more. A few years back, Sue and John took a vacation that included time to experience five wineries in Idaho. Then, I received a case of wine samples from 12 Idaho wineries with 12 different kinds of wine to showcase the range of what is happening there.
Between those wines and the ones Sue bought, we’ve published several few posts featuring the wonders of Idaho wine including:
- Koenig’s Viognier and LH Riesling,
- Williamson’s Sangiovese and Viognier,
- Moscato from Hat Ranch Winery,
- plus a Zabala Cabernet Franc for Cab Franc Day one year and
- a Cab Franc from Hat Ranch another year.
While Sue may be a Cab Franc fiend, it is safe to say that this is a grape that does well in Idaho!
While most people are familiar with the wines of Washington and Oregon, you may be surprised to learn that Idahoans planted vines first, back in the 1860s.
As one Idahoan told me, if it’s a great place to grow potatoes, it’s a great place for wine!
Unfortunately, Prohibition decimated the industry, and few vines were replanted until the 1970s. Because of these successes, wine is the fastest growing agricultural industry in Idaho today, where the vines thrive during the hot days and cold nights. In 2017, 1300 acres were in vines, with most located along the Snake River west of Boise, and with over 50 wineries.
Today we have two from Fujishin, one of the wineries Sue visited on her Idaho trip, and one of the wineries that sent us wine, a Viognier. In fact, it sure seems like Viognier from Idaho is exceptional– this will be the third time we will write about it! Sue purchased several bottles at the winery, and while she is usually a red wine fan, she was so impressed with the viognier, she bought a bottle!
Today’s post features the Viognier sample from the Idaho Wine Commission as well as a red blend she purchased which we paired with a light summery dinner of salad and cheese.
Named 2018 Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest Magazine, Fujishin is celebrating their 10 year anniversary with planting their estate vineyard earlier this year.
Located high above the Snake River at 2600′ elevation, the new vineyard has two defining soil profiles: one features remnants of the Ten Mile gravel bar deposited nearly 2 million years ago from the shores of ancient Lake Idaho while the other has a combination of windblown volcanic ash, windblown sand, river and lake bed sediments deposited after Lake Idaho drained to create Hells Canyon.
For now, they are sourcing grapes from others, and that’s not a bad thing:
“The Snake River Valley AVA has nearly limitless potential. Each unique site gives us insight into the varieties and growing practices that will define our region with every new vintage,” says winemaker Martin Fujishin.
Martin began his wine industry career in the tasting room at Koenig where he still works — but now as assistant winemaker. From 2009-20013, he directed the Treasure Valley Community College Viticulture and Enology Program.
Fresh greens topped with raspberries, blueberries, Point Reyes blue cheese, spiced pecans from Great Basin Bakery, orange olive oil and rose vinegar.
Delice triple cream brie, Point Reyes blue, aged gouda, smoked mozzarella, Purple Moon wine soaked gouda, salt cured olives, salami.
2015 – Fujishin – Reserve Viognier – Snake River Valley AVA – 14.3% alcohol SRP $15
This wine was a sample; it is not currently on the website but other whites are for a similar price.
Color: Pale yellow, platinum rim
Nose: Minty florals, light sulphur, minerals, iron,
Palate: Viscous beautiful mouthfeel is what is noticed right away, almost like butter rolling across your tongue. It has such a pleasant mouth feel. I got honesuckle right away, bee pollen. it is so viscous on the palate, iron rich minerals. There is a very clean quality to this wine. I felt there is enough acidity that you can feel it in your teeth. The lingering mineral finish makes you salivate and longing for another sip of this beautiful wine.
Pairing: Fantastic salad with the wine. Sue also enjoyed the combo of the delice triple cream with a raspberry on top. While we were not sure wether the blue cheese would do well with the wine, but because of the orange olive oil and the fruit in the salad, it handles it. You could put smoked trout on the salad to make it more of a complete meal, and it we felt that it would be a fantastic addition. Fantastic summer concert wine. It would be nicely refreshing on a warm summer night. Normally white wines cannot handle much spice or strong flavors that compete with a delicate wine, but this wine took on the spicy great basin nuts with a terrific appeal. It loved every element of our salad tonight.
2014 – Fujishin – Amatino Red Blend – 14.5% alcohol SRP $27
Sue purchased at the tasting room with an industry discount.
60% Syrah, 35% Petite Sirah, 5% Viognier
Color: Very dense, Ruby, Saphire Red, lighter maroon rim. It catches the light nicely when swirled in the glass.
Nose: We preferred the nose in a Reidel stemless Syrah glass over a Petite sirah glass. Cherry tobacco, leather, ripe plum, red stone fruit. I also found some earthy pollen.
Palate: There is a nice dusty minerality, raspberry more like raspberry preserves rather than fresh raspberry, pomegranate, rhubarb, the fruit and the earth of mulberries, nice silky tannins, grippy tannins on the finish. There is more complexity to this wine than maybe we have put our fingers on.
Pairing: So great with the salad as well — which is not surprising because tasting the wines inspired the direction of the salad. Salami and spicy cured meats are super satisfying with this wine so the combination of the salad and the Charcuterie plate worked well with both wines and was a lighter yet completely satisfying meal. I thought of Sue’s venison chili (which the last time she made came from a friend’s farm that lives right on the Oregon-Idaho border near the Idaho Snake River AVA. This wine can definitely take on rich gamey meat. We originally thought of having buffalo burgers, but just did not get around to making that happen. Salt cured olives brings out a bunch of cherry fruit in the wine. Sue immediately thought of making a pasta dish with olive oil, italian sausage, salt cured olives, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Then came the blue cheese, I felt that there is a “Wow” moment, and then there is heaven. So if we had had our buffalo burgers with blue cheese we would have been over the moon. It made the aged gouda taste like bacon in all of the good ways. It brings out a rich fatty creaminess, and an earthy meatiness.
We did not want to stop drinking this wine, but with other wines we had to write about, we had to pull ourselves away and move on.
Wonderful on its own, great with our salad, we imagined how great it would be with other wonderful wines.It can handle big bold intense flavors.
What a great way to introduce others to Idaho wines! Check Fujishin out for yourself here.