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When people mention Idaho wine isn’t one of the first things that spring to mind, however the cultivation of wine there goes back as far as 1860. Despite winning acclaim early on, the region was devastated by prohibition. 150 years since the first vines went in, the region has remained tiny with just 50 wineries in operation, totally 1200 acres of planted vines. Since the 70’s, Idaho wineries have made a big effort to raise the quality of their wines: Reducing yields, managing canopies, and aggressive pruning. Bordering both Washington and Oregon, Idaho has more in common with the Walla Walla valley both in the choice of plantings and style of wines produced. Most of the vineyards are at high elevations ranging from 2000-3000 feet above sea level.
In 1994 Andy and Greg Koenig founded Koenig Vineyard & Distillery in the Snake River Valley, near where their grandparents had made wine during the great depression. Greg worked at a small local winery to gain some experience, but otherwise is self-taught. He planted vines in 1996 and now all of their fruit comes either from their estate vineyard or nearby small growers that he has been working with for 20 years.
The wines are bold and balanced, distinctive cousins of the other Pacific Northwest regions. While it is tempting to compare them to Washington, the similarities are only on the surface. This is a different terroir, different voice, and an exciting region to watch.