"If you have to have wine for breakfast, this is a good one," joked Beverly "Bev" Williamson, who runs sales and marketing for the family vineyard. The white wine was crisp and light, the perfect introduction to an eight-hour day of tasting.
- Lex Nelson
- Malbec in the vines at Williamson Orchards and Vineyards.
"You know how in real estate it's all about location, location, location?" asked Mike, the operations manager, standing between two net-covered rows of Malbec. "We're about the fruit, about the fruit, about the fruit."
Williamson was just the first stop on an Idaho wine and cider odyssey that took attendees down the Sunny Slope Wine Trail to
Koenig Vineyards (where
Fujishin Family Cellars and Bitner Vineyards also set up tables for tasting) and Sawtooth Winery (which hosted Ste. Chapelle), then to Par Terre Winery in Garden City and the new downtown Meriwether Cider House. Local snacks from Guru Donuts, Porterhouse and The STIL popped up along the way to help keep the crowd the right side of tipsy. Idaho Wine Commission Executive Director Moya Schatz Dolsby led the group, giving insight into Idaho's growing crop of 52 wineries along the way.
- Lex Nelson
- Grapes being processed post-harvest at Koenig Vineyards.
In the Koenig tasting room, Martin Fujishin of Fujishin Family Cellars spoke on pushing boundaries, and his quest to find out, "What else can we grow here in Idaho?" He poured tastes of his raw, fruity 2015 Tempranillo while outside on the patio, Ron Bitner of Bitner Vineyards offered his own vintage of the same grape. Bitner, originally a "bee biologist" by trade, prides himself on having the only LIVE-certified winery in Idaho, a third-party standard for sustainability. He's in his 34th harvest this year, and makes a point to plant plenty of flowers around his grapes to attract bees.
- Lex Nelson
- Kelly, the tasting room manager at Sawtooth Winery, demonstrating how to open a bottle of bubbly with a sword.
At Par Terre, dancer-turned-winemaker Travis Walker spoke to working on a smaller scale as campers tasted his 2017 Rose, made from Washington grapes sourced after Snowpocalypse crippled Idaho's grape production in 2016. Pointing to his hand-cranked crusher/destemmer, Walker joked about why his production is limited to 10 tons.
"I'm not as strong as I used to be," he said with a grin.
The tour finished at Meriwether Cider's taproom in downtown Boise, where co-owner Kate Leadbetter explained the process of cider-making over glasses of Foothills Semi-Dry. When the campers finally wandered out into the sunlight to resume their normal lives, their arms were heavy with bottles and their minds buzzing with facts that they'd promised to share, spreading the news of Idaho wine.