There is mounting enthusiasm for the future of Idaho wine country in the Snake River Valley American Viticulture Area. Boasting an ideal climate for a wide variety of grapes, the region allows for the production of a diverse range of wines. Tucked between breathtaking views of the Owyhee Mountains and the Boise Valley is the Sawtooth Estate Winery. Idaho’s largest vineyard is ideally located on the rolling slopes near the Snake River.
As the region celebrates Idaho Wine Month in June, it is an ideal time to recognize Sawtooth Winery’s distinct qualities. Take for example the 20 grape varietals in its vineyard, which produce a wide array of red and white wines.
“The many varieties of grapes mean that we can create a lot of different flavors in our wines,” Sawtooth Winery Tasting Room Manager, Kelli Geselle, said. “This means we can have reds that are more fruit-forward, or whites that are especially dry or sweet.”
The 470-acres of grapevine-covered trellises encircle a state-of-the-art production facility, a feature most wineries do not have on site. Sawtooth Winery has its own custom-crush facility, which allows for more control in the winemaking process. The barrel rooms are also quite up-to-date with built in humidifiers for indoor climate control, an important element in the dry high desert.
Sawtooth Winery is the second largest producer of Idaho wine, behind nearby neighbor Ste. Chappelle, with approximately 10,000 cases bottled annually. The majority of other Idaho vineyards have a more boutique approach, bottling and distributing a much smaller number.
The many different Sawtooth wines, with their distinctive flavors and excellent quality, speak for themselves. Head Winemaker, Bill Murray and Assistant Winemaker, Meredith Smith, spend countless hours in crafting the taste and style which create the libations sold at retailers throughout the region as well as the bottled masterpieces sold only at select wine shops and the winery itself.
The wine made at Sawtooth stands alone in distinguishing the vineyard from others in the area, but the winery offers much more to add to its appeal. The beautiful grounds and amazing views provide the perfect backdrop for weddings and celebrations held there throughout the summer months. “We average about 30 to 40 weddings each year,” Geselle said. “We also have events such as Sangria Sundays, Wine Club meetings and Farm to Fork Dinners.”
Education is always an element in wine-centric events that Sawtooth holds. Winemaker dinners provide guests with the opportunity to taste foods prepared specifically to compliment specific types of wine and background information is given about how the grapes were grown, pressed and mixed to create the drink in front of them.
Other activities, such as vineyard hikes give participants a unique perspective. “Spending time walking through the vineyards gives people the opportunity to feel the soil, touch the grapes, and really see how the process works,” Geselle said. “We want to create an exciting destination feel to our winery.”
The Sawtooth Estate Winery is located south of Lake Lowell at 13750 Surrey Lane in Nampa. For information about visiting the vineyard, their tasting room and for upcoming events, call 208.467.1200 or view their website at www.sawtoothwinery.com.
Article By: Jessica McAnally