Bringing Back the Winemaking Magic

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Guess where the Northwest's first award-winning wine region sprouted.

No, it wasn’t Walla Walla, Wash., or Oregon’s Willamette Valley, two places renowned for their wines today. It wasn’t even the up-and-coming Sunnyslope area of Southwestern Idaho.

In the 1800s, it was a place that won international awards, had Napa Valley winemakers traveling up from California to check out the competition, and sported vineyards rumored to be owned by the famous Rothschilds of Bordeaux.

Need a hint? Today, this once-renowned winemaking region is dominated not by vineyards and tasting rooms, but by wheat fields and a sprawling paper mill. Yep, it’s Lewiston, Idaho, and the valley it shares with Clarkston, Wash.

In the next issue of Boise Weekly, I look into the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley’s surprising wine history and talk to a new generation of winemakers working hard to bring back the region’s grape-infused glory days.