The trend of urban wineries has hit Boise. All around the country, boutique wineries have been establishing themselves in both large and small cities, similar to the micro breweries of the last decade. If you’ve always wanted to know more about wine, but would prefer to hear it from the winemaker, you need to come to one of these wineries. More often than not, it’s the winemaker pouring.
Just a stone’s throw from Downtown Boise is the 44th Street Wineriesin Garden City. This is not your staid, elegant wine tasting of Napa or Bordeaux. No, this is more like going into your arty friends’ warehouse loft where boutique wine-makers are busy bottling, pouring, and collaborating with like-minded colleagues.
This place is the heart-center of some brand new energy in the Idaho wine industry. You’ll get schooled on what grapes they selected and why and how they make the fermentation of their grapes unique. Imagine going into an artist’s studio and purchasing a piece directly from the artist. This is the wine equivalent. So much more satisfying than a gallery or wine store.
Similar to a business start-up incubator, the 44th Street Wineries are a mind-trust of passionate wine makers who collaborate on viticulture, technique, and education. There are four wineries under one roof: Periple, Coiled, Telaya and Cinder. The wineries are all fairly new companies, bringing energy, innovation and truly great tasting wines to Idaho.
Having energetic, young winemakers under one roof makes the space inherently about connection and sharing. Their hands-on, bootstrap approach to their wineries also make them and their wines approachable and fun. This is an intimate experience — you’ll be able to say that you knew them when.
As an added bonus, Wine Wise Idaho is also in the building, offering wine education classes upstairs — of which I got a sampling at Savor Idaho. Owner Kat House took me on a tour of my taste buds, helping me understand how sweet, acid, and a combination of both are used in wine-making. She offers classes for beginners as well as professionals. Local wine makers use Wine Wise Idaho for lab testing and consulting.
Starting in late September when the grapes are harvested, the processing side of the operation, which are just steps from the tasting rooms go into full swing. You’ll get a sense of the “sticky, messy, industrial process” that goes into making great wine, explains Leslie Preston, winemaker at Coiled Wines. You’re in it! Smell the fermentation and taste the (prior years’) finished product.
The wine industry in Idaho is changing rapidly: there is more concentration on education, from the grape growers, to the winemakers to the consumer. Be a part of it and buy local. And if you’re not in Boise, get over here. This town is bubbling with energy and innovation. You can brag to your wine friend (snobs) that you knew about Idaho wine before anyone else.
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