The Birth Of A New Wine Region In Snake River Valley, Idaho


Great wines are made with quality grapes and people that have passion.

If my first full day in Idaho was all about the beer then my second day is all about wine. Now this is a subject that I have a bit more experience with than beer. By experience I mean I drink a lot of wine, in fact some of my favourite wines are White, Red and Rose. Just kidding Smile but I do drink a lot of wines, mostly from BC.

Chardonnay grapes

Before we begin our wine adventure though it is time to move to the Riverside Hotel. Locally owned and operated the Riverside is spacious beyond belief. I think my room is almost as big as my condo in Vancouver. It’s just more room to stretch out. My bathroom even has two sinks!

Welcome to my room at The Riverside

There's more to my room at the Riverside

Bathroom built for two

On with our wine adventures.First up we actually visit three wineries in one location, a collaborative crush pad and tasting Room called 44 St Wineries. Home to Telaya, Cinder Wines and Coiled Wines 44th St Wineries embodies the best of the Idaho Wine scene. Passionate winemakers creating the best wines they can while at the same time lending their time and energy to build a successful wine region for future winemakers to take root in.

44th St Wineries Tasting Room

First up we meet Melanie of Cinder Wines who wows us with a Voignier that is worth the trip to Boise all by itself. The Chardonnay and Syrah were also outstanding. I can see why Melanie and her husband are wining awards every year, including 2012 Idaho Winery of the Year.

Melanie of Cinder Wines

Cinder Wines Voignier

Cinder Chardonnay

Next up we were introduced to Earl of Telaya. Telaya is his made up word combining his two favourite places the Tetons and Playa. My favourite of their wines was the Turas (COMPOSITION: 66% Syrah,17% Merlot, & 17% Cabernet). Apparently Lauren loved it to especially when Earl poured her a little extra Smile

Earl talking about his passion for Idaho wines

Earl pours Lauren a little Turas

Telaya Turas

In true a collaboration Melanie and Earl even posed for a pictured in the Barrel aging room. Have you ever seen two winemakers share the same space before? Awesome.

Melanie and earl in the Barrels

Now that we’ve got a wine buzz on before noon it’s time to eat and we are heading somewhere special, the first restaurant distillery in the USA, Bardenay. Located in the heart of the Basque Market Bardenay combines a bar crafting cocktails made from Gin, Vodka  & Rum distilled on site and a restaurant that makes AMAZING food. We were lucky enough to steal 10 minutes with the owner who gave us a tour of the actual distilling process followed by cocktails and a Lamb & Beef Meatloaf with a side of Bacon & Blue Cheese Coleslaw. In the words of all of us #NomNomNom.


Craving Bardenay Gin

Copper kettle in Bardenay

Lamb & Beef Meatloaf sandwich

Full and a little tipsy it’s time to head out into wine country, the Snake River Valley. About 40 minutes from downtown Boise we visit Ron Bitner of Bitner Vineyards, whom to many is the Grandfather of Idaho Wines. With the first vines planted in 1981 Ron and his wife Mary have truly crafted a lovely piece of the world for themselves. Not only do they produce some very nice wines, I loved the Menopause Red, they also host private events and weddings on the estate. With a view like this it’s no wonder they just hosted a party for 200 people last weekend.

Bitner Vineyards

Grapes on the trellis

View from the patio at Bitner Vineyards

Not content with just making great wine Ron and Mary have also planted some Truffle trees. That means that the trees have been covered with Truffle spores. Stay tuned Idaho might soon be the Truffle capital of the USA.

tasting room mgr Walt pours a Menopause Red

It’s time to head back into Boise but along the way we discover a place that only if you know about it would you stop in. That story I’m saving for a future post Smile

Thinking back on the wine adventure I have to say it was kind of cool to see a wine region in it’s toddler hood. Napa Valley, Sonoma, Okanagan, and Niagara Falls each started out just like the Snake River Valley is now. I can’t wait to come back in 10 to 15 years to see how the region has grown.

Boise = Wine, who knew?

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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.


  1. According to Constellation Wines U.S. Applications Chemist (and former University of Idaho professor) John Thorngate, Idaho was the site of the first official wineries in the Pacific Northwest. That U.S. state had a thriving wine industry dating back to the mid 1800s, until it was stymied by Prohibition in the early 1900s. Ahead of CA, OR and WA.

  2. Thank you so much for visiting our city, Marc! It was lovely meeting you and can’t wait to see you again in September!

    Also, love what you had to say about Idaho and our hotel, looks and sounds like you had a blast!

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