Although Idaho might not be top of mind when you think of wine, pioneering efforts began well over 100 years ago. In 1872, Frenchmen Louis Desol and Robert Schleicher brought grapes to the Clearwater Valley, and German immigrant, Jacob Schaefer acquired 160 acres of land near Lenore; it was there where he planted grapes and built his winery. These three pioneers shaped the Idaho wine industry before prohibition shut down wineries, voting themselves dry in many counties.
Now 100 years later, the area is thriving again. Its steadily growing to support more than 50 wineries, with over 1,200 acres of grapes planted. Most of them are located in the southwestern portion of the Snake River Valley AVA, with a few scattered in the eastern part of the AVA and Sun Valley. Another ten wineries are found in the Lewis-Clark Valley.
Many of the wineries are small, and few have national recognition. They are also hard to find on store shelves and even harder to find on restaurant lists or online—which, is somewhat of a blessing in disguise, because it’s a perfect excuse to visit the region. Plus, it would be an educational retreat tasting through many varieties you might not always drink—like Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, Carménère, Viognier, and Malbec. Overall, the region offers diversity and quality across the board. And to get you going, here are a few wineries and wines to get your journey started. Pack a bag and experince what Idaho has to offer.