This is the first serious episode on my quest for the perfect Riesling site in the Pacific Northwest.
I was in the Snake River Valley AVA this week. I went to see a few vineyard sites (Bitner Vineyard, Williamson Vineyardâ€¦) and visited a few wineries (Parma Ridge, St Chapelle, Koenigâ€¦.) to understand what is happening in Idaho. The area is beautiful, quite reminiscent of the Yakima Valley of Washington that we call home. The climate seems pretty similar though with more precipitation (11 t 14â€ a year) and at a higher altitude (most grapes are grown above 2,000 feet of altitude). This was unfortunately not the cool site I was dreaming about.
One particularity of the region is the proximity to Boise and the increasing pressure that residential real estate development puts on the farmers. I saw some acreage selling for $40K/acre that would have been great vineyard land. I am not sure where the AVA is going but they will have to deal with this before long.
The wines were nice. My favorites were the Viognier from Koenig and the Syrah from Williamson Estates. Both were made by Greg Koenig and I must say that I was impressed. Koenig winery itself is worth the visit if you like eau-de-vie makers. The big dog in town is St Chapelle as it represents about 85% of all wines made in Idaho. Chuck Devlin, the winemaker at St Chapelle, produces good wines at reasonable prices.
I think I want to try to make a Snake River Riesling to see if I can produce something distinctive. I am thinking about a small 500 cases lot if I can find the right grapes. I think I have a couple of irons in the fire to make that possible. May be my dream of a pan-Northwest Riesling can come true?