Chicago Tribune recognizes Idaho Wine Industry
Chicago—The Chicago Tribune discovers an Idaho Gem.
In the Food and Dining section, columnist Michael Austin wrote a glowing feature story on Idaho’s thriving wine industry.
The story features a photo from the Crossings Winery in Glenns Ferry and then kicks off the story talking about Idaho’s mammoth potato crop. He stated what all Idahoans know, that the Gem State has the perfect growing climate for dozens of Idaho crops.
Idaho’s vineyards are located at a higher elevation than most others in the Northwest. Gem State soils are comprised of volcanic ash. The long summer days and cool summer nights produce grapes with concentrated fruit flavors and high acidities. Austin says that he altitude, soil, the long days and cool nights add up to an amalgam of perfection.
“They don't call it the Gem State for nothing; the place has good growing soil, and for close to 50 years, a small portion of it has been dedicated to growing commercial wine grapes. Idaho's climate is well suited for such a crop, and most of it grows at relatively high elevation, somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. The state enjoys long, sunny days (for ripening) and cool high-altitude nights (for retaining acidity). Daily temperature shifts of 40 degrees are not out of the question in some vineyard locations,” wrote Austin.
Austin wrote that establishing a wine industry takes time.
“By 2002 there were still only 11 wineries giving it a go in Idaho. One of them was Ste. Chapelle, which opened in the mid-'70s and remains the state's largest winery. By 2009 there were more than 40 wineries, and less than a decade later, there are more than 50. It's a small group of like-minded folk and a small collection of grapevines. Outside of the Snake River Valley, there are only about an additional 150 acres of vines planted,” Austin wrote.
He then urged food and wine lovers that Idaho presented a perfect ground-floor opportunity, urging young winemakers to ‘go west’. There, no way to put a dollar amount on a feature article in a major metro market, but one wine grower said millions and millions more is just a beginning.
Austin added in the article that in in developing wine regions that experimentation is common and points to all the varieties of grapes producers grow and that Idahoans have a pioneering spirit and ‘follow their bliss.’
Austin then put together an Idaho wine list for his Chicago readers:
Recommended Idaho wines
2015 Indian Creek White Riesling. Apple, apricots and pear led to zingy acidity, citrus and a touch of eucalyptus on the finish. $12
2015 Fujishin Family Cellars Reserve Viognier. Minerality and peach were accompanied by a buttery-toasty oak presence and a soft mouthfeel. $17
2015 Hat Ranch Winery Dry Moscato. Light, refreshing, floral and nutty, with a blast of clean citrus toward the finish. $18
2014 Cinder Small Lot Series Sauvignon Blanc. Ripe pear and fennel led to lemon and zippy acidity in this refreshing wine. $25
2012 Williamson Vineyards Sangiovese. Dark cherry, incense, leather and other dark fruits characterized this fun and lively wine. $18
2012 Crossings Winery Cabernet Franc. An expressive wine full of cherry, dill, incense, black licorice and a touch of salinity. $18.50
2012 Ste. Chapelle Winery Panoramic Idaho Petit Verdot. Rich and decadent, full of blueberry and other dark fruits, plus orange zest and smoke. $25
2014 Clearwater Canyon Estate Syrah. A luscious wine offering dark fruits, roasted meat, incense, smoke and a spicy finish. $28
2014 Huston Vineyards Malbec. Plum, blackberry, earth, coffee, leather and spice were all present in this formidable, full-bodied wine. $29
2013 Bitner Vineyards Erletxe Tempranillo. Earthy, floral and herbal, this one was full of rich, red fruits, toast and a touch of leather. $35
2013 Sawtooth Winery Trout Trilogy Carmenere. Plum, blackberry, vanilla, black pepper, leather and spice came together in this silky wine. $40
2014 Koenig Vineyards Botrytis Single Berry Select Late Harvest Riesling. Ripe apple, pear and peach joined by clean, balancing acidity. $30 for a 350-milliliter bottle