Snake River Valley Wine Trail 2021: 10 Best Wineries to Visit

When you think of the state of Idaho, you will most likely associate it with agriculture, specifically potato farming. Idaho is definitely more than potato farming and has a diverse wine culture.

This may come as a surprise to some and may be more well known by wine enthusiasts as Idaho hosts award-winning wineries and vineyards.

With around 50 wineries, it can be hard to choose where to go to as a local, but even harder as someone visiting. As a visitor, the Snake River Valley is an area that is calling your name. It is the epicenter of Idaho’s wine industry and culture.

If you are unsure of where to visit, do not worry, we will give you a list of ten wineries and vineyards to check out in the Snake River Valley.

Geographical Information On The Snake River Valley

Located in the southwest of Idaho, the Snake River Valley is an American Viticulture Area (AVA). Ninety percent of Idaho’s vineyards are home to the five million acres the valley covers along the river.

The Snake River Valley produces a diverse range of grape varieties. In 2007, the AVA was approved, bringing light to Idaho’s wine industry, which was not well known at the time.

The topography of the Valley area is made up of river-basin flat land. Altitudes range from 2,100  to 3,400 feet above sea level, with even higher mountains surrounding the area, such as the Owyhee Mountains.

Due to its altitude, the Snake River Valley experiences high temperature variation and intense sunlight, which is sufficient for the grapes growing there to ripen, even with the short growing season.

White wines from this area are often acidic with crisp fruit flavors, while reds can be elegant but have the problem of possibly being thin and lacking ripe flavors.

10 Wineries and Vineyards to Visit in the Snake River Valley

The Snake River Valley has scored high reviews from Wine Spectator Magazine and Wine Enthusiast, esteemed publications that have helped bolster the area on the international map. There are a plethora of wine varieties to choose from, but the top varietals are Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Viognier.

Best Snake River Valley Wineries and Vineyards Map:

Koening Vineyards and Distillery – Caldwell, ID

Koening Vineyards and Distillery 1
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Koening Vineyards and Distillery 2
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Koening Vineyards and Distillery 3
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Since 1995, Koening Vineyards and Distillery has committed to keeping their ingredients for beverages locally grown, due to childhood inspiration from the farms of Idaho. Koening offers a variety of red, white, and ice blends. Ice wine is a rarity to find, due to it being difficult for it to make.

If you are intrigued to try a rare blend, check out Koening’s Riesling Ice Wine. The grapes are handpicked and pressed while frozen, yielding a small amount of juice, and most of the water left behind as ice making the juice very concentrated.

This wine is decadently sweet and best served chilled and with an arrangement of cheese, fruits, and nuts (if you choose so).

Guests can enjoy their wine in the vineyard’s tasting room and terrace, both influenced by the Italian style. The terrace stands at 3 stories, overlooking 7 acres of vineyard.

Koening offers traditional wine tastings that last an hour with a dedicated tasting room attendant to guide you through the experience and Bottles on the Terrace experience where you can enjoy their blends on the terrace or picnic lawn with no time limit.

There are no private event offers, but they do have available public events. To see their event calendar, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Sunday – Saturday 12 pm – 5 pm

Hat Ranch Winery – Caldwell, ID

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Hat Ranch Winery 2
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In 1902, Hat Ranch was established as a farm and ranch by the Frison family. Over the years, the Hat Ranch farm became a winery through the direction of the Frison great-grandchildren.

This winery’s architecture is inspired by its pioneering heritage, giving guests a countryside ranch experience.

Hat Ranch has a variety of blends to choose from. For a killer red wine, try out their Hat Trick Red, named after its blend of three grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Verdot.

Guests can enjoy the view of the vineyard and the Owyhee mountain range from the Hat Ranch Winery’s tasting room all season long. T

here are five wines every day that are open for guests to sample, and the wines are in rotation so that there is something new for guests to try at every visit.

There are several events held at the winery, such as new wine release parties and events partnered with local food trucks and restaurants. To see their full list of events, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Sunday – Saturday 12 pm – 5 pm

Bitner Vineyards – Caldwell, ID

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Bitner Vineyards 2
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Bitner Vineyards, established in 1981, is a family-run operation and currently home to some of the oldest blocks in production in this region. This 15 acre property flourishes in the scenic area of Southwest Idaho.

The winery puts sustainable and socially conscious practices at the forefront of their award-winning wines.

Bitner has a variety of red, white, and dessert blends. If you enjoy wine with hints of soft spices, try out their 2020 Tempranillo Disfrutar. This is a lightly oaked wine with cherry aromas and a quality taste of red plum and raspberry.

Bitner Vineyards’ tasting room is reserved for members and their guests. For non-members, reservations are available in advance on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Bitner does small production wines around 1,200 – 1,5000 cases a year, so they are highly sought after. There is inside and outside seating. Only members can bring outside food to picnic, non-members can not.

They host an array of events, some for members only, including virtual wine tasting, new wine release parties, and more. To see a full list of events, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Thursday – Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm

Ste. Chappelle Winery and Tasting Room – Caldwell, ID

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Ste. Chappelle Winery 2
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Ste. Chappelle Winery 3
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Ste. Chappelle was established in 1975 in Emmett, Idaho and moved to it’s current facility three years later. Ste. Chappelle is known for their production of outstanding wines in the Snake River Valley. The winery has church-arch inspired windows along the French château building.

Guests can enjoy a hilltop overlook view of the valley while tasting one of their many wine series. Check out their NV Love Idaho Rose from their Love Idaho series. It is a sweet blend that is the perfect combination of sweetness and acidity with aromas of citrus, spice, strawberry, and peonies.

Ste. Chappelle’s tasting room is inspired by the medieval Gothic chapel Ste. Chappelle, in France and is open daily. Receptions and private events are welcomed on the property.

There are several events that are hosted on the property, including their Open Air Concert Series that happens every Sunday afternoon. For a full list of their events, click here.

Hours of Operation:

October – March

  • Sunday – Friday: 11 am – 5 pm
  • Saturday 11 am – 6 pm

April – October

  • Monday – Thursday 10 am – 5 pm
  • Friday 10 am – 5 pm
  • Saturday 10 am – 7 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm

Fujishin Family Cellars – Caldwell, ID

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Fujishin Family Cellars 2
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Fujishin Family Cellars has been dedicated to creating and producing wines that encapsulate the Snake River Valley area sine 2009. This winery sources its wine from a collection of vineyards, including Bitner Vineyards, mentioned previously.

Fujishin has red and white varietals. For a splash of simple pleasure, try their Bubble Bath Blush. This sweet wine has flavors of pear, strawberry, honey, and pineapple with the aroma of peach, rose, and honeysuckle.

Fujishin Family Cellars focuses on intimate, in-depth wine tastings in their tasting room experience. Guests will have 4-5 wines in a 45 minute tasting with a wine guide. Reservations are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcomed at first come, first served basis. To see a list of events, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Sunday – Saturday 12 pm – 6 pm

Huston Vineyards – Caldwell, ID

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Huston Vineyards is located on the beautifully named Chicken Dinner road, adjacent to Huston, Idaho, where the vineyard gets much of its roots and inspiration from. Visiting this establishment will give guests a sense of the 1911 farm essence of Idaho with a current twist.

100% of all grapes in the bottles Huston produces are harvested from the AVA. They offer varietals of Cabernet, Riesling, and more. For an earthy drink, try their Merlot, which is smooth and medium bodied.

This blend incorporates cedar, blackberry jam, and tannins with hints of floral and smokey aromas.

Huston Vineyards’ tasting room offers wine tasting by reservation only. They host events on the property periodically, many of which are release parties. To see their event calendar, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Sunday – Saturday 12 pm – 5 pm

Hells Canyon Winery – Caldwell, ID

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Hells Canyon Winery 2
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Hells Canyon Winery 3
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Hells Canyon Winery is a family owned and operated winery established in 1981. The winery is the first in Idaho to use solar power for day-to-day operations. Guests can enjoy views overlooking the Owyhee Mountains on a sunny slope above the Snake River banks.

Hells Canyon uses sustainable practices and hand farms. It is the oldest wine grape vineyard in Idaho. Hells Canyon has a sister branch of wine called Zhoo Zhoo. Due to the two branches, there are a plethora of reds, desserts, and whites to try on a visit.

Try Merlot – Doloreta, from their Zhoo Zhoo collection, which has licorice and cherry liqueur with hints of smoked salt and a peppery finish.

Wine tastings are served at Hells Canyon’s wine bar, where wine flights are served on a scenic patio overlooking the Snake River. The establishment has annual events and periodically special events such as wine release parties and yoga at the vineyard. To see upcoming events, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Friday – Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm

Sawtooth Winery and Tasting Room – Caldwell, ID

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Founded in 1987, Sawtooth Winery is located on a rich 70 acre pasture in the Snake River Valley area. The vineyards’ elevation can range up to 3,500 feet, higher than any others in the Northwest.

Sawtooth has award-winning wines served in bottles and cans. A variety of sparkling, whites, reds, and more are offered, and they have several wine series. Coming from their Trout series, their Trout Trilogy Petite Sirah is great for those who enjoy rich, sweet wines with a kick.

Blackberry, chocolate, leather, and cinnamon aromas fill this wine, while bramble berry fruit provide a smooth palate for the perfect acidity and tannin finish.

Sawtooth Winery offers interactive and educational tasting room experiences, providing a relaxed and authentic wine country atmosphere. Seating requires reservations and guests can choose between tasting room seating, patio seating, and designated picnic areas.

Private events, such as meetings, birthdays, etc. can be requested at Sawtooth. There are a plethora of public and club member events held on the property, including concerts and wine releases. To see a list of events, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Sunday – Saturday 11 am – 5 pm

Williamson Orchards and Vineyards – Caldwell, ID

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Williamson Orchards and Vineyards has been dedicated to producing fine wine since 1998. Located in the heart of the Sunnyslope Wine Trail, Williamson is family owned and operated.

Guests can enjoy varieties of Cabernet, Riesling, and more. To get a mixture of several varietals, try their Lilly White which is a mixture of Riesling, Viognier, and Moscato.

Hints of citrus and grapefruit accompanied by lush tropical fruits make for a sweet, refreshing, and bright wine with a crisp finish.

The Williamson Orchards’ tasting room is filled with the antiques from the family and offers an immersed wine industry experience. The tasting room has big windows to gaze out at the Owyhee Mountains.

During warmer weather, the tasting room expands to the green lawn and covered patio areas. Reservations are highly recommended.

The vineyard periodically hosts events including virtual happy hours, where those tuned in can learn tricks to improve their wine experience. To see a list of events, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday 12 pm – 5 pm
  • Friday and Saturday 12 pm – 6 pm
  • Monday and Tuesday Appointment only

Scoria Vineyards – Caldwell, ID

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Scoria Vineyards 2
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Scoria Vineyards 3
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Scoria Vineyards is located on a ridge overlooking the Owyhee mountains and has a focus on the agricultural heritage of its owners. The first estate vineyard was planted in 2014. Guests can find Malbec, Merlot, Verdot varietals and more.

If you enjoy structure and a crisp finish, try out their Dry Rose of Merlot, which has bright fruit characteristics with hints of citrus.

Scoria has two locations, one in Downtown Boise and another in Caldwell, which is its tasting room. Private events are offered at the Boise location only. The tasting room is set up as a contemporary space design showcasing their bold wines.

Reservations are required for groups of 6 or more and must automatically be done no matter the number if you are a tour company. Periodically, the vineyard hosts events, including art showcases. To see a list of events, click here.

Hours of Operation:

  • Friday – Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm

Quick Tips to Visit Wineries and Vineyards

Try to Visit As Early As Possible

Many of the wineries and vineyards in this area open somewhere between 10 am – 12 pm. Soon after 12 pm, tasting rooms become packed which can influence your experience there. For a more intimate experience, the sooner you get there, the better.

Try Out the Food

Many of the establishments offer food themselves or partner with local food trucks. You do not want to continuously drink on an empty stomach, so if you get hungry, eat. It will help you also be able to handle and try more wines.

Explore Past Your Favorite Wines

Wine tasting should be an exploration. Although drinking your favorite wine will guarantee no disappointment, you can do that at home, so why waste the opportunity?

Each winemaker has their own unique way of curating wine blends, try out at least one different variety at every winery and vineyard you decide to visit. This is a chance to expand your wine experience.

Relax

Remember that at the end of the day, visiting a winery and vineyard is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. You are not going to be quizzed on what you learned, so sit back and enjoy the views, company, and great wine.

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