It’s not a surprise that the vast majority of Idaho’s wine grapes are grown in the Sunnyslope region.
The long history of growing fruit, rich soils, and generational knowledge of the farmers has produced a “perfect storm” in which to grow phenomenal grapes. So it’s also not a surprise to find a new winery on the Sunnyslope Wine Trail either. I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Kindred Vineyards this week on the eve of their soft opening and spend some time with Craig Davis the owner and his daughter Elisha Brooks.
Set along a creek bank overlooking the Snake River Valley this small estate winery is on the verge of doing what a lot of people only dream about. Inspired by a trip to Tuscany and supported by his friends and some of our ever-gracious Idaho winemakers this is a long term project that is finally coming to fruition. Craig was seduced by the European lifestyle centered around family and quality experiences. The connections made by bringing family and friends together for great conversations and wonderful wines made an impression. So much so that this wonderful Sunnyslope property was purchased and planted in 2015 with the intent of recreating a bit of that ambiance right here at home.
When Craig is not tending his vines or building a winery, he works in the IT industry. He has been making wine for a while in his fully licensed “Winerage” that looks amazingly similar to the garage of his home on the property. The wines range from a lovely, crisp unoaked Chardonnay and a classic new French oak fermented Chardonnay on through to an estate-grown Sangiovese and a great pair of Pinot Noirs.
The noble experiment with their Pinot Noirs shows off the difference that location and terrior can make in a bottle of wine. Kindred brings grapes from two very different vineyard sites, one in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (Pinot central!) and one on their estate site together to Idaho. The vines are managed the same way, picked on the same days, and made the same way in the same in identical barrels. Sitting on the deck and tasting these two wines side by side is an amazing experience.
I always love a chance to learn and taste at the same time. Yes, the soil and weather affect the same grapes differently and it’s a blast to taste the differences in the glasses in front of you.
My favorite story at Kindred revolves around the Love Letter Rose’. The wine is excellent but the story of the Love letter written in the 1890s from Great Grandpa Lars to his paramour Jenny is so heartwarming. The letter is part of the label and available the hear by scanning a QR code that’s on the bottle.
Wine and food are a big part of the lifestyle that the Davis’ fell in love with in Europe. They even add suggested food pairings on their labels to help their friends and kindred spirits try to recreate the magic they are bringing home to Sunnyslope.
When you come in on the ground floor of a winery the neat thing is that you get to see all the changes that happen as it grows. Kindred Vineyards still has a few exciting projects in the works too that already have me wanting to go back. An 800,000-gallon pond, an amphitheater, and more patio/deck space are exciting things to watch for in the future.
Come on out and see the new things that are happening in Idaho’s wine country! There are new wineries with new tastes to go explore. Hope to see you out there soon while the beautiful Idaho weather holds!
The Idaho Wine Ambassador
© 2020 Jim Thomssen