Get a taste of Idaho’s wine country
Idaho’s wine industry has grown tremendously over the past decade, but how do Gem State wines compare to those overseas?
BOISE, Idaho – Idaho’s wine industry has grown tremendously over the past decade, contributing $210 million to the state’s economy. But after looking at the growth of the Idaho wine industry, the one question that remained unanswered was how Idaho wines compare to other wines on the market.
The Idaho wine industry has carved its way into the multi-million dollar industry.
“The cool thing about Idaho is that it’s really unique,” said Kathryn House McClaskey, director of education for Hayden Beverage and founder of House of Wine. “That we can develop a world of wine, really in a few different areas.”
La Maison du Vin is an educational laboratory, teaching people about their palates, the different types of wine, and how to use those skills to choose their favorite selections. Kathryn organizes various trainings and events for the general public at the laboratory, and provides certification for sommeliers.
“When we’re talking about wine it can be very difficult because there are so many different regions, you really have to think about what region you’re talking about,” Kathryn said, “because the lines that are grown, say in Burgundy, go be very different varieties and styles from what they would be in Bordeaux.”
So, how does the wine of our region differ from that of France?
“In these regions, we grow a wide range of varieties. In some regions of France, for example, they are generally limited to specific areas. For example, the Rhone Valley is going to focus on Syrah, Grenache and Vionnet,” said Kathryn. “These are all different grape varieties. While we could grow here, syrah and vionnet, but we will also grow other varieties like chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, riesling – things that would normally be grown in different places around the world, we can all grow up in one cool place here.”
Idaho’s soil has all the ingredients needed to grow great wine.
“What makes the Idaho wine country so special, especially in the Snake River region, is our volcanic soil. This volcanic soil gives the wine a distinctive character,” said Kelli Meyer, regional manager of Sawtooth. Winery and St. Chapelle Winery.
“I would say Idaho wines are unique in that they have a wonderful expression of varietal typicity, which means they taste like the varietal they should,” McClaskey said.
“My favorite fact about the Idaho wine region is that we’re about the same latitude as the real hot region of Spain and the Bordeaux region of France,” said Samantha Maxey, owner of Snake River Wine Tours. “So we grow some really great French and Spanish varietals here in Idaho and those are some of the best varietals around the world, including Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Vignette, Chardonnay, and Riesling, which has been l ‘one of the first grape varieties planted in the state of Idaho.’
Kathryn also agrees with this comparison.
“There are a lot of wines that I taste that I think can compete with some of their classic counterparts from France or Italy, maybe even Germany as well,” McClaskey said, “it’s really fun to see people’s expressions and make them go, ‘wow, I didn’t know Idaho could make wine like that’.”
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