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Gem State vintners meet traveling author

Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts wrote a thorough and engaging guidebook about the Idaho wine industry called WineTrails of Idaho. He is a part-time Idaho resident who has a home in Ketchum when he isn’t living and working outside Seattle, Wash., on Mercer Island.

A couple of years ago, armed with a GPS device, digital camera and notebook, he called out of the blue on every winery and vineyard in Idaho on weekends over the course of months. A quick count of the book indicates he stopped at more than 30 establishments, located from Coeur d’Alene to Buhl, Moscow to Eagle.

One of the hardest places to find was 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards. “I was a little worried that I had taken a wrong turn,” Roberts writes in the book.

Owners of the wineries and vineyards were largely open to meeting the traveling author, who generally stopped by unexpected. “He’s a great guy,” said Martin Fujishin of Fujishin Family Cellars in Caldwell. “He’s spent a lot of time around the industry, spent a lot of time getting to know the folks in the wine industry and getting to know each of them individually.”

Roberts refused to be pinned down on his favorite Idaho wine or winery but did talk in an in-person interview at the offices of the IBR about some of his best experiences. He called Carmela Vineyards in Glenns Ferry “totally memorable,” mainly for the deluge that accompanied his visit there, preceded by an almost eerie quiet and calm.

He praised Snyder Winery in Buhl for its surprise factor – right out of nowhere an intriguing wine experience emerged. The couple who purchased the property in 1999, Russ and Claudia Snyder, seem not to know the meaning of retirement – unless, that is, it means you leave your previous career, pursue your dream, and then work tirelessly on something you’re endlessly passionate about.

“He’s a really great guy, and we really enjoyed him,” Claudia Snyder said of meeting Roberts. She said they have sold all their copies of the guidebook and are ordering more.

“People seem to be intrigued by the Idaho wines,” she stated.

Roberts said readers of WineTrails of Idaho are almost 100 percent residents of the state and the wine trail experience has appeal “not just for the culinary traveler. There are pretty ordinary people going to the wineries.”

He said they’re in search of wines to pair with a barbecue and are not wine connoisseurs with cellars full of aged, expensive bottles of cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, or other varieties.

He advised people interested in taking the wine trail not to discount any wine experience out there in the Gem State. “You might have one of the best experiences at one of the smaller wineries,” he said.

About Gaye Bunderson