The Sunnyslope Wine Trail is a great place to visit wineries and vineyards that work extremely hard to provide unique experiences for visitors. Though sometimes it can be hard to commit to the time to plan a full day or weekend on the Sunnyslope. You know how it is. It’s been a long week and you are finally getting together with some friends and family for dinner and you'd love to serve a bottle of Idaho wine! Running out to Caldwell might not fit in your schedule perfectly.
No matter the reason there is always a way to keep Idaho wine on the menu, and with very little fuss.
Wine is an agricultural product just like farm-fresh goods sold at local farmers markets. In fact, wine at farmers' markets across the country is a growing trend and you can find it amongst the produce, protiens, eggs, microgreens, tomatoes, and freshly baked bread.
During the spring and summer months there are three weekly markets where all the bounty of the area we live in comes together. The Boise Farmers Market, the Downtown Boise Capital City Market and the new Farm to Fork Farmers’ Market in Caldwell all celebrate what makes living in the Treasure Valley so special.
If you are near Boise on Saturday Mornings, stop by the Boise Farmers' Market from 9am -1pm to find Larry and Kay owners of Vizcaya Winery are manning their booth. They are the easternmost members of the Sunnyslope Wine Trail and firmly believe this is a great way to reach their consumers as well as market their wine. Sydney and James Nederland from Scoria Vineyards attend the Boise Farmers market as well. After a busy Friday at the tasting room, they love interacting with new folks and wine buffs at the Saturday market. The Sunnyslope Wine Trail also has a co-op booth that different wineries take turns hosting every week, you never know what wines from the Sunnyslope Wine Trail you will be able to taste and take home!
The Capital City Public Market also takes place on Saturdays from 9:30am to 1:30pm. You can pick up some excellent wines from Huston Vineyards & Koenig Vineyards as well as stroll the aisles for specialty goods made in Idaho.
The new Farm to Fork Farmers’ Market, located in downtown Caldwell at Indian Creek Plaza, takes place every Tuesday, May through September from 5-8PM. This is a great place to pick up some wine mid-week as many of the wineries are closed earlier in the week. Vizcaya Winery makes its excellent wine available weekly and other wineries such as Sawtooth Estate Winery and Huston Vineyards rotate through the Sunnyslope Wine Trail booth. The Farm to Fork Farmers' Market is a great place to shop and sip! Wine by the glass is available for purchase from the bar at Indian Creek Plaza and there is live music from regional and national artists every week from 6-9PM. You can learn more about the market and what artist will be on stage this week at IndianCreekPlaza.com.
Why would these folks (along with wineries from as far away as Glenns Ferry) take the time and make the effort to set up shop for 4 hours? For one thing, winemakers love sharing their craft with customers and prospective customers and they want to make it easier to buy their wine!
Idaho has a 3 tier system governing sales of alcohol and the best way that Idaho Wineries like the Sunnyslope Wine Trail can sell their products directly to consumers at the tasting room or the market. The more wine they sell directly, the more proceeds stay in their pocket, so buying wine directly from the winemaker makes a greater impact, this is what buying local is all about! That means that the wineries can keep doing what they love, which is making finely crafted batches of wine to sell to you! You can purchase Idaho wines at some grocery stores in the Treasure Valley, but there is nothing like interacting directly with the winemakers themselves and learning more about their products, processes, and passion for wine!
The point is that there are lots of ways to get your hands on Idaho wine from all over the Treasure Valley and the Sunnyslope Wine Trail. I think the absolute best way to this is to buy it directly from the folks who made it. Not only do you get to know the stories and the people that make up this incredibly dynamic industry but you get to support your local producers. Nothing is better than that.
So, get out there and try some new wines at the markets! Buy some this week to try with friends or just for yourself! If you know you’ll need 6 bottles of a certain wine for an event, call the winery ahead of time and ask them to bring those bottles to the market with them. They would be overjoyed to help you out!
Now, how’s that for local producers providing great service!
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.