An update from our colleagues Allison Blackman and Nicole Hancock:

The State of Idaho is most infamously know for the potato but the recently reenergized Idaho Wine Commission, vintners, and wineries across the state hope to soon add Idaho Wines to the Gem State’s reputation.

Idaho wines regularly net honors in regional and national competitions, and the media are increasingly taking notice. "They want something new to write about, and that’s us," says Executive Director of the Idaho Wine Commission, Moya Shatz. The October issue of Sunset magazine sports a feature story headlined: "Discover new wine country: In Idaho’s low-key Snake River Valley, the wine is getting seriously good."

Idaho is steadily earning a reputation for growing and producing vinifera wine grape varieties such as syrah and viognier, as well as classic varieties including merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and riesling.

Southwestern Idaho, the location of Idaho’s capital Boise and the surrounding counties known as the Treasure Valley , boasts more than half of the state’s 47 wineries, a tally that has more than quadrupled since 2002, when Idaho had 11 wineries.

The Snake River Valley Appellation is the first registered AVA (American Viticultural Area) for the state, officially designated in April 2007. The AVA covers an area of 8000 square miles throughout Southern Idaho and has comparable latitudes to many famous wine regions of the world.

In Canyon County (about twenty miles outside of Boise) there are eight wineries within just 10 miles— making ideal a leisurely two day wine trip of the area.

Although Idaho’s wine industry is currently ranked 22nd in Wine Business Monthly’s most recent ranking of “Number of Wineries,” Idaho has been steadily expanding since the Great Recession.

An economic impact study conducted by Boise State University in 2008 found that Idaho’s wine industry contributed about $73 million to the state’s economy and 625 jobs. Although Shatz doesn’t expect to commission another such study until around 2015, she expects those numbers have already increased.

One of Idaho’s prime wine business assets is its two viticulture programs: one at the University of Idaho’s Parma research center (where the U.S. Department of Agriculture has funded 2 of 28 wine grape researchers in the U.S.) and the second at Treasure Valley Community College in Caldwell.

In celebration of Idaho’s winery growth- Stoel Rives is proud to release “The Law of Wine in Idaho: a Guide to Business and Legal Issues” at the Inaugural Idaho Wine, Beer and Distiller’s Law Seminar in Boise Idaho on March 1st, 2012, presenting Moya Shatz as the Special Guest Speaker. Please click here for more information regarding the event and for information on how to obtain a copy of the Law of Wine in Idaho.