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Wine commission touts growth of industry in state

Workers during an Idaho grape harvest. File photo.

Grape things are happening this June in the Gem State.

That’s the goal when restaurants, wineries, cideries, vineyards and grocery stores around the state host special events and tastings to celebrate the 10th annual Idaho Wine and Cider Month.

The month-long celebration will help support various businesses and highlight a significant industry with an annual economic impact of $170 million to the state – and growing.

In the past decade, there has been a 30% increase in the number of wineries in the state and the addition of two new American Viticulture Areas, according to the Idaho Wine Commission.

The growth of the industry, in addition to being a boon for growers who are seeing an expanding customer base, has also benefited the construction industry. One example is Wright Brothers, The Building Company, whose crews are currently building a $4 million custom wine processing facility and event venue.

“We are so excited to partner with 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards in building the Eagle Wine Viticultural Center,” the company recently announced.

Vineyard owners Gary and Martha Cunningham, who were part of the recent groundbreaking at the site, said the 6,400-square-foot major expansion to the existing facilities will provide enhanced services to the community and wine enthusiasts.

The goal, they said, is to create a destination venue at 3 Horse Vineyards with wine tastings, locally sourced cuisine and event space for groups, as well as tours of the vineyards, cellars and winemaking process, according to the owners-vintners.

Additionally, classes focused on food/wine pairing, wine blending and viticultural practices will be offered on a rotating schedule at the 850-acre site.

The winery will continue to produce vino for the 3 Horse Vineyard brand, but plans are in the works for “Custom Crush” winemaking as well as consultations with fledgling vintners with the on-site personal winemaker for all facets of winemaking.

The new winery will be operational Sept. 1 when the first harvest (Pinot Gris) is expected to ripen. The tasting room and event space will be completed a month later.

Idaho has more than 50 wineries and cideries across the state, each with unique offerings. There are 1,600 acres of grapes planted in the state, producing diverse varietals from crisp Rieslings to full-bodied Syrahs.

“We are so grateful for the success and support Idaho Wine and Cider Month has received over the last 10 years,” said Moya Dolsby, executive director of the Idaho Wine Commission. “The public has embraced the quality flavors of Idaho wines and ciders. Some of the greatest advocates of our industry have been Idaho residents. It’s that support that helped our award-winning region grow and develop.

“We hope Idaho Wine and Cider Month inspires more people to taste, buy, and spread the word about Idaho’s amazing wine and cider.”

The festivities launched May 31 with a tasting from more than 20 wineries and cideries in Boise’s Freak Alley Gallery. Across the state, nearly 50 events will celebrate Idaho Wine and Cider Month, including one from the top — Gov. Brad Little makes it official with a bottle signing at Albertsons Market Street on June 7.

While the month’s most well-known event, Savor Idaho on June 9, is sold out, plenty of opportunities remain to sip and sample. Colter’s Creek Winery hosts a tasting straight from their barrels June 1. Enthusiasts can attend one, two or all three winemaker dinners at Chandlers Steakhouse throughout the month.

About Steve Sinovic