Idaho Winery Tour

Saturday, July 11, 2015

After spending the week with my mom and getting caught up with family, Mark and I decided to take a day for ourselves and hit some of the local wineries that have popped up here in the last 30 years.

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The beautiful Snake River
The beautiful Snake River
Sunflowers and wheat
Sunflowers and wheat

Our first stop was at the beautiful Koenig Winery & Distillery.  Set up on a hill overlooking the beautiful Snake River Valley, this winery and distillery has been producing some of the top wines in the region.  It was established in 1996 by Andy & Greg Keonig, two brothers who learned the art of making wine and spirits in their fathers home country of Austria.

Koenig Tasting House (photo courtesy Koenig Winery)
Koenig Tasting House (photo courtesy Koenig Winery)
I think this says it all...
I think this says it all…

We sampled a variety of wonderful whites & reds, including an Ice Wine that blew my socks off!  Needless to say we left with a few bottles. 🙂  They also offer a wonderful selection of fruit brandies, vodka and whiskey!

Koenig award winning wines!
Koenig award winning wines!
Beautiful distilling equipment!
Beautiful distilling equipment!
Old fashioned wine press!
Old fashioned wine press!

Our next stop took us to a relatively new winery in the area – Hat Ranch Winery.  Established in 2014 by Tim Harless, Hat Ranch Winery is producing some outstanding young wines.  Their reds are fabulous and there is definitely great things in their future!  Tim is very knowledgable about his wines and was a fabulous host in the tasting room.  We purchased a wonderful bottle of red and we look forward to future wines from this up and coming vineyard.

The tasting room at Hat Ranch Winery (photo courtesy of Hat Ranch Winery)
The tasting room at Hat Ranch Winery (photo courtesy of Hat Ranch Winery)
Hat Ranch's vineyard - a storm was brewing
Hat Ranch’s vineyard – a storm was brewing

Up the road from Hat Ranch is the Bitner Vineyards.  Established in 1981 by Ron and Mary Bitner, this winery is producing some of the best Tempranillo wines in the area!  Spicy and herby, this wine pairs well with so many spicy food!  We left with a few of these bottles.  Another wine I loved from this vineyard was their High Desert White Blend. Perfect on a summers day!  There are so many exciting wines from this vineyard it would be too long to post how many we picked up! 🙂

Bitner Wines (photo courtesy of Bitner Winery)
Bitner Wines (photo courtesy of Bitner Winery)
Bitner Winery
Bitner Winery

On our way up to the last winery of the day, we were ran into a road block – of goats!  🙂  They were taking them down to another pasture and the only way was to herd them down the road.  We stopped and let them go by.  It was great seeing the kids out helping (human kids, not the goats).  Busy day for them!

Goats in the road!
Goats in the road!
The Snake River in the background
The Snake River in the background

And our final stop of the day was the Ste Chapelle Winery.  One of the oldest established wineries in the region (1976), Ste Chapelle is the largest producer of wines in the area with 130,000 cases a year.  Their Sauvignon Blanc was a huge hit with me!  A wonderful wrap up to the day.

The Tasting Room at Ste Chapelle (photo courtesy of Ste Chapelle Winery)
The Tasting Room at Ste Chapelle (photo courtesy of Ste Chapelle Winery)
Ste Chapelle Winery
Ste Chapelle Winery

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Complimentary glasses with the wine tasting
Complimentary glasses with the wine tasting

On our way back home I took Mark into some of the country side I grew up in.  Out driving around we ran into Chicken Dinner Road!  I had totally forgotten about the road but when I saw it I knew I had to snap a picture of it.  Only in Idaho! 🙂

Chicken Dinner Road - only in Idaho!
Chicken Dinner Road – only in Idaho!

It was a fabulous day, lots of delicious wine was had and bought and we came home and crashed!  But we were lucky that a nice Russian tourist was kind enough to take a picture of us both to commemorate the day.

Happy wine drinking day!
Happy wine drinking day!

Up next is our trip up to Idaho City!  It is a “living” ghost town and has a LOT of history from the Gold Rush.  We also found the camp site I used to camp at when I was a kid!  So much has changed in Idaho but so much has stayed the same.

Here are some other photos of highlights of our day!  Enjoy…