May 3, 2019

Wine Holidays on the Slope

Idaho celebrates its wine industry every year in June.  Governor Butch Otter proclaimed June as “Idaho Wine Month” in 2009 and the wine in Idaho has been growing in popularity ever since. You’ll see special prices on Idaho wine in your local grocery stores, tasting rooms will be pouring new releases and the entire state comes together for events and celebrations. Check out your favorite winery’s event calendar to see what is going on in June.  The Idaho Wine Commission also has a great statewide event calendar that is really helpful for planning your summer road trips and summer wine tasting stops. It’s a great time to explore new grape varietals and new tasting rooms so make plans to try something new in June. While June is a celebration of wine in Idaho alone, I have also come across some other holidays wine lovers should be aware of (that you can celebrate on the Sunnyslope, too!


Roasting Lamb at Huston Vineyard's Malbec Celebration

April 17th is Malbec World Day.  Created in Argentina, the home of some great high-altitude Malbec wines, it is a worldwide celebration of a single grape varietal.  Huston Vineyards has embraced this holiday every year and releases their Malbec annually to mark the occasion.  They even found a caterer that made a customs spit to roast a lamb Argentinian style at the tasting room!  Don’t believe me about the worldwide scope of the event?  There have even been Malbec celebrations as far away as Croatia! Not a bad deal for a historical Bordeaux grape with a name that translates loosely as “Bad Mouth" in French.


Annually, the first Friday in May is International Sauvignon Blanc day. I’d suggest opening a bottle or two of Hat Ranch Sauvignon Blanc to celebrate.  I know I will!

The Thursday before Memorial Day in the US is International Chardonnay day.  It is one of the most popular white wines and one that grows well in Idaho.  Chill a bottle or two of the award-winning Fujishin Family Cellars 2016 Chardonnay and get ready for the three-day weekend!

SCORIA Vineyard's 2019 Release Party


June 8th is National Rose’ day this year!  Rose’ is one of the fastest growing segments in the wine industry and is really taking off in Idaho.  Stretch your taste buds a bit and try a new Rose’ in June!  Scoria just released their first Rose’ this year and it is excellent chilled and in a cold glass on a hot day – Yummy!

August and beyond

Once a year the wineries of the Sunnyslope Wine Trail gather together for a fun-filled evening of good music, good food, and great wine! The Sunnyslope Wine Trail Festival typically falls on the first Friday in August is the perfect way to spend a summer evening. Your toes will tap with the lively musical talents of local bands. Stroll through the beautiful new Indian Creek Plaza in downtown Caldwell, while you sip wine and peruse the works of local artists and craftsman. Make sure to get your tickets starting every June for this local holiday!

The first week in August is also International Albarino Days (they celebrate all week long – Why not!)  and  September 20th is International Grenache Day!  Two of my favorite Spanish varietals take center stage on their respective days.  Try Vizcaya's Albarino or Ste. Chapelle's Panoramic Idaho Grenache to be transported to Spain momentarily. Of course, I would be remiss if I neglected my absolute favorite grape, the humble Tempranillo that celebrates its heritage on the second Thursday every November! Tempranillo is an early ripening red grape from the Rioja region in Spain that does extremely well in Idaho.  Bitner’s Erletxe Tempranillo is one of the great examples found locally!

This is an incomplete list of Wine holidays, but I hope it whets your appetite for adventure and gets you looking for gaps in your wine cellar you can fill in anticipation of a new celebration!

Cheers and enjoy a wine holiday on the Sunnyslope soon!

The Idaho Wine Ambassador

© 2019 Jim Thomssen

About Jim Thomssen, the Idaho Wine Ambassador:  Jim grew up in Minnesota but moved west to get away from the snow. He landed in Washington state with a degree in Economics.  He discovered the wines of Washington in the 1980s as the region emerged, and when his banking career brought him to the Treasure Valley in 1993 he saw the wine region in Idaho had the same potential.  Jim has worked with and volunteered for the Caldwell Economic Development, The Idaho Wine Commission, The University of Idaho, and the Sunnyslope Wine Trail over the last ten years to help develop the Idaho wine industry and promote Idaho wines.  Jim is an avid wine traveler and has visited Napa Valley, the Alsace, and Portugal.  He earned the title of Ambassador after arranging a trip to the Rioja in Spain with an Idaho Winemaker to explore the differences and similarities between the Snake River AVA and the Rioja Alta.

Sunnyslope Wine Trail


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