There´s an A in Atlanta, a G in Chicago,
There´s an E in Los Angeles and A in Miami
There´s a S in Boston, a D in Philadelphia
A Y in Kansas City, but there´s no Z in Boise
– Jewel, “The Boise Song”
I hadn’t really thought much about you, though I knew you weren’t with a zed.
Aside from your relationship with potatoes, you hadn’t really crossed my mind over the years, your state little more than a hostage to the French fry existence. As it turns out, there’s more to you, Idaho, with over 180 agricultural products, a top producer of Austrian winter peas, trout, barley, sugarbeets – and yes, potatoes. You also have a serious relationship with wine. Who knew?
A quick jump from Portland, your capitol city of Boise might be the quaintest terrain I’ve visited in a while, reminiscent of Bend, Oregon, where old brick buildings are feeling a new breath of life. An easy walk through your downtown offers such a beautiful, eclectic collection of local artwork – the brightly colored wall murals of Freak Alley to the sparkle of silver constellations along Front Street. Your streets are clean, your retail spots gems, and your restaurants, bars, and bakeries would fit nicely into Portland’s quadrants.
And your wine country. Not like most other wine countries amidst expansive countrysides, but instead split between urban vintners and in-the-vineyard. With stories similar to any wine region, stories of love and hard work, dreams of grapes and harvest success. Amongst multi-generational farmers, like Huston Vineyard, to family affairs at Cinder Wines. From Koenig Vineyards, diversifying across beverage platforms, to Meriwether Cider, where off-season forest firefighters make some of the best ciders in the Northwest. Neighbors, farmers, families, producers all working to boost the success of their region and promote their prized varietals.
Boise. It’s almost as if you have yet to be totally discovered by the masses, still full of genuine charm and hidden shine.
I will think of you more often.
Tips for visiting Boise and the Snake River Valley AVA:
The Snake River Valley AVA is unique,” notes Meredith Smith, winemaker at Ste. Chapelle and Sawtooth wineries. “It is an ancient lake bed dating back 10-2 million years ago, with 8,000 square miles spanning two states (Idaho and Oregon).
1. Stay downtown! Press trips are always opportunities to highlight hotels, but I really enjoyed my stay at Hotel 43, and would stay there again on my next visit to Boise. The rooms were tidy and modern, the beds were amazingly comfortable, and the food options within the hotel (a little cafe, open early – and a popular steakhouse) are more than adequate. The hotel has wonderful little details that most others miss, like a black towel in the bathroom designated for makeup removal, and a plush stuffed bear in each room, who keeps you company during your stay. The staff are delightful as well.
2. Get thee some Idaho wines! My favorite Snake River Valley pours: Everything from 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards, but the 2014 Eagle Vineyards AVA Syrah in particular, Meriwether Cider’s Foothills Semi-Dry (I also bought a t-shirt, it’s that good), and Sawtooth Winery’s 2015 Grenache Rosè and both the 2013 and 2014 Tempranillo.
Photo credit: Jennifer Matthewson / Daily Blender