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Discover Idaho

Wine Country

Idaho is growing a lot more than potatoes. With three official American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), 60+ wineries and more than 1,600 acres of grapes planted, Idaho’s growth in the world of fine wines is booming…making it the perfect weekend wine country destination to sip in.

Our Idaho Wine Country Travel Guide shares a brief history of winemaking in Boise, Idaho, terroir, where to sip, where to stay, and things to do beyond the vines.

WHERE IS IDAHO WINE COUNTRY?

The Snake River Valley AVA is the main wine region in Idaho and is located in Boise. Here you will find 30 of the state’s 60+ wineries within 35 miles of the city. Getting to Boise is easy given its central location. Fly direct into the Boise airport (BOI) and its a short drive into the downtown area.

BEST TIMES TO VISIT

The best time to visit Idaho wine country is late spring / early summer when the vines are filling out, blooms are bursting with color, and it is temperate enough to picnic outside and enjoy many Boise’s outdoor activities. In the fall, harvest offers an added bonus that has the area buzzing. Note that fall in peak season, so prices may be higher than other times of the year. Summer and winter, with more extreme temperatures, keep some travelers away.

Idaho wine map AVAs in Idaho

HISTORY

According to the Idaho Wine Commission, the first grape-bearing vines in Idaho were planted in the 1860s.

Two Frenchmen, Louis Desol and Robert Schleicher and one German, Jacob Schaefer were winning awards around the country before National Prohibition killed the industry and brought production to a halt. Idaho’s State Prohibition began in 1916, followed by National Prohibition in 1920; it wasn’t repealed until 1933.

In the 1970s, California sparked the revival of the American wine industry, which was felt throughout United States. In 1976, Ste. Chapelle Winery  became the first post-Prohibition winery to open in Idaho. Today it remains Idaho’s largest winery producing of 125,000 cases.

TERROIR

With more than 1,300 acres under vine, three federally recognized AVAs, 60+ wineries, Idaho wine country is growing into one of the U.S.’s most intriguing wine hot spots.

Today Idaho wine country is home to three official AVAs: Lewis-Clark, Eagle Foothills, a smaller AVA within the Snake River Valley AVA. With more than 60 wineries in the state – and 30 within 35 miles from Boise in the Snake River Valley – Boise is the where to stay for a taste of the Idaho wine country.

Snake River Valley’s elevation ranges from 1,500 – 3,000 feet, which has been compared to the high mountain desert of the famed Rioja region in Spain. In comparison to other U.S. wine regions, the Snake River Valley AVA is home to some of the country’s highest vineyard elevations. (Colorado is home to the highest elevation vineyards in the U.S. as well as the world.)

In terms of climate, the Snake River Valley AVA’s intense summer growing season gets 16 hours of sunlight with temperatures reaching well over 90°F / 30°C and nighttime temps dropping to the 50s. This climate is a result of its raised elevation. The combination of intense sun, and cool, dry nights balances grape acidity  and sugar. Think fruit-forward wine (due to the heat) with great balance and structured (thanks to the coolness).

TOP GRAPE VARIETIES

Idaho does not have a signature varietal…yet. A young wine region, producers continue to explore the grape varietals that will survive and thrive in the state’s three AVAs. So far a few key ones that have taken root.

WHERE TO SIP

With 60+ wineries, Idaho wine country has plenty to sip in.
We’ve shared the best Idaho wineries for your grape escape.

Ste.Chapelle
Winery

Telaya
Wine

Koenig
Vineyards

MEET THE WINEMAKERS


PLANNING YOUR IDAHO WINE COUNTRY VACATION

Hotel 43 Boise Wine Country

OUR FAVORITE HOTELS

GETTING TO & AROUND THE VINES

  • FLYING: Boise is easy given its central location. Fly direct into the Boise airport (BOI) and its a short drive into the downtown area.
  • DRIVING: You will need a car to explore wine, unless you sip in the downtown tasting rooms. Even then, you will need an Uber or Lyft since not all are walk able. My recommendation is always to hire a driver. 
  • WINE TOURS: Winery Seekers 

BEYOND THE VINES

Go truffle hunting! According to the Capital Press, “about 10,000 truffle-inoculated trees have been planted in the Snake River Valley and the area may have the largest concentration of truffle orchards in the country.”

Outdoor enthusiasts love nearby Sun River for winter skiing and summer days on the water. Or, go for a hike in the Boise foothills on the Ridge to Rivers system. Need to stay closer to Boise, get out for a jog – or walk – along the Boise River Greenbelt.

Explore downtown Boise and sip in the local shops and restaurants. Take a tour of the Idaho State Capitol Building and visit the nearby Zoo Boise.

wine tasting in Boise Idaho
Idaho State Capitol

Sip in More Idaho Wine Country

Elaine Schoch

Elaine N. Schoch

Elaine Schoch (pronounced the German way – Shock) is the editor and founder of Carpe Travel as well as an award-winning travel writer, wine judge, certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 and certified American Wine Expert. She is married to The Husband and has two kids, Princess One and Two – who’s interest and knowledge in wine is quite extensive. Not to mention the stamps in their passports.

L Sundstrom

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

When was this article published? Cooked and Telaya separated their tasting rooms a few years ago.

Elaine Schoch

Monday 15th of June 2020

Thanks for the note. I will update the article to reflect this. Cheers!

Sherry

Tuesday 24th of December 2019

I had no idea Idaho was known for wine! I have never been to Idaho, but recently I heard about a couple fun festivals and things to do. I looks like I'll have to visit now that there's wine to be enjoyed!!

Cheers, Sherry

Elaine Schoch

Monday 6th of January 2020

Thanks for stopping by. I don't think Idaho is known for its wines just yet but that what I'm trying to help with. ;) If you head out there take a look at the guide on the site for other things to do beyond the vines. I'll be adding more in the coming weeks. Cheers!

Jordan

Saturday 25th of March 2017

Idaho has wine.... Who knew? I visited here on a recent road trip for a day or two, but didn't stick around for long as all I knew was Potatos!!! But I have been hearing so many good things about Idaho recently, now including wine and white water rafting ...I just think I am going to have to plan a new trip back! Thanks for inspiring me...

Elaine Schoch

Sunday 2nd of April 2017

You should for sure go back. The summer would be a great time given all the outdoor activities, festivals and wine.

Ray

Tuesday 15th of November 2016

That's very interesting info about the Snake River Valley. I was wondering how Idaho had a favourable climate for wine production, like Okanagan Valley in British Columbia or the Niagara Region in Ontario. That completely makes sense, and makes me want to visit Idaho now.

Elaine Schoch

Wednesday 16th of November 2016

Thanks for stopping by! I wondered the same thing about the climate and was surprised at what I learned. It's a budding wine region and one worth visiting. Hope you make it out there.

Marissa

Thursday 27th of October 2016

How cool! I had no idea Idaho had a wine country. Looks like I'm going to have to take a wine trip out to Idaho soon!

Elaine Schoch

Thursday 27th of October 2016

Yes, and the wine is great! Cheers.