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Idaho wineries, wines and wine country

  Idaho's vineyard elevations (ranging up to 3,000 feet) are higher than most others in the Northwest and its soils are comprised primarily of volcanic-ash.  Add to that long, warm daylight hours during grape-growing season - typical of northern latitudes and arid climates, cool summer evenings - characteristic of desert environments, and you have a combination of factors that contributes to producing quality wine grapes with concentrated fruit flavors and naturally high acidities.  This is the foundation of Idaho's growing wine industry.

     Most of Idaho's wineries are concentrated along the southwestern portion of the Snake River Valley including the Eagle Foothills AVAs.  To the east, a number of wineries are clustered in the eastern part of the Snake River Valley appellation, between Mountain Home and Twin Falls, with one further east near the Wyoming border east of Idaho Falls.  A few other wineries in the east are north of Twin Falls, off of Hwy 93 in Ketchum near Sun Valley.  The northern part of Idaho State is home to another eight wineries with nearly 30 more close by just across the Washington border and also in the Spokane area

       The Snake River Valley became Idaho's first appellation, authorized by the US Department of the Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in 2007.  The climatic influence of the Snake River creates a favorable growing environment for vinifera grapes, as do other great rivers in premium winegrowing areas worldwide.  Many of the wineries in Idaho's spectacular north country (sometimes referred to as the "Panhandle"), source grapes from vineyards located in the Snake River Valley and Eastern Washington.

       In November of 2015, a second Idaho AVA was authorized - the Eagle Foothills AVA.  Although it lies completely within Snake River Valley AVA boundaries, Idaho's second AVA's climate and soils are distinct from those of the larger AVA.  Currently (December 2015), nearly 70 vineyard acres are planted, with plans for more than 450 planted acres in the near future.  The Eagle Foothills AVA encompasses nearly 50,000 acres of land north of Eagle, Idaho near the state's capital, Boise.  

       A third Idaho appellation was federally authorization as of May 2016.  The 306,658-acres that lie within the newest Idaho AVA is the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA.  It include parts of seven counties in Idaho and Washington and is centered around a 40-mile-long strip of canyons, low plateaus and bench lands formed by the Snake and Clearwater Rivers with the cities of Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington nearby.  These two towns face each other across the Snake River and were named in honor of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark who traveled through the region of this AVA during their famous expedition of 1803 - 1806.  Nestled in a unique mountainous region of the Bitterroot Mountains - the backbone of northern Idaho, the area was a premier wine-grape growing area in the early 20th Century, but that disappeared after Prohibition.  Evidence of the area’s former winemaking history, including hundreds of acres of abandoned vineyards, can be found throughout the region.  In the early 2000s, wine grapes started to make a comeback in the area, and today's Lewis-Clark Valley AVA now  (as of April 2016) includes five wineries, 16 grape growers and 81 acres of wine grapes. 

       Most Idaho wineries are small, and only a few have a presence on wine lists of restaurants outside the state... although that number is growing.  Likewise, Idaho wines are somewhat scarce on the shelves of wine shops outside the local area.  The best and most rewarding way to access a wide array of Idaho's distinctive wines is to plan a visit to the winery tasting rooms themselves. 

       Use the information provided here to create your own custom tour of this diverse state; explore the expanse and beauty of its lands and the flavors of its terroir in wines produced from various grape-growing regions throughout the state.  Be sure to take home a few bottles to share with and impress your friends.

For a complete, up-to-date list of Idaho wineries and contact information,
visit our Idaho Winery Finder page for this state. 

Navigating Idaho Wine Country

   The map and links below allow you to explore the wines and wineries of each of Idaho's wine producing areas.  You will also find lodging, dining, special events and touring suggestions organized within these regions for your consideration. Click on the region of your choice below.

     Link to Snake River Valley Wine Country section        Link to main wine country page for northern Idaho and its Panhandle   

Snake River Valley AVA - shared with Oregon

Eagle Foothills AVA - entirely within the Snake River Valley

Lewis-Clark Valley AVA - shared with Washington

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Copyright © 1997 - April, 2016   Susan R. O'Hara.
All rights reserved. 
Last revised:  04/28/2016

Wine Facts

Number of Wineries

2016 - 50 wineries
2010 - 40+ wineries
2008 - 32 wineries
2006 - 23 wineries
2003 - 15 wineries
1998 - 13 wineries

Vinifera Acreage

2016 - 1,600   
2013 - 1,500   
2006 - 1,500   
2003 - 1,300   
   1998  -   820      

Major Varietals Produced
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Fumé Blanc, Gewürztraminer,
Lemberger, Merlot,
Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir,
Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc,
Semillon, Syrah

Other Varietals
Malbec, Petite Syrah,
Petite Verdot, Tempranillo,
Tinta Cão, Touriga Nacional,
Touriga Francesa, Zinfandel

Leading Varietals
Chardonnay, Riesling,
Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Styles
Still Wines
Sparkling Wines
Fruit Wines & Brandies
Ice Wines & Late-Harvest

Idaho's wine industry currently contributes $169 million to the
state's economy, more than double that contributed in 2012.

Link to Wines Northwest Contact page