The wine industry of the Lewis Clark Valley has had its own twists and turns, just as the vines that is grows!
Much of the success of the Lewis Clark Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), can be attributed to the great floods of Lake Missoula. The Missoula Floods which swept across eastern Washington and down the Columbia River George at the end of the last ice age, left fertile soil deposits throughout the Lewis Clark Valley that created the perfect drainage and soil composition that grape vines love.
In 1864, with the realization of the areas agricultural promise, the first vines planted in the Northwest were planted in Lewiston. The wine growing region now known as the Lewis Clark Valley AVA had humble beginnings with just a few acres of Royal Muscadine.
By 1872, French settlers also saw the areas wine growing potential and quickly worked to establish vineyards and wineries.
By 1908, over 40 varieties of grapes were being grown in the area! With unmatched soil composition and skilled growers, the vines grew beautifully, and the area became recognized for its ability to grow wine producing grapes that could compete globally.
Shortly after the area became recognized as a premier growing region, prohibition was sweeping the nation, and by 1916 the state of Idaho was voted dry. The wine industry receded with the with the enforcement of prohibition.
Fast forward to 1972, Bob Wing, convinced by Dr. Walter Clore of Washington State University, planted the first vineyard since prohibition. Wing observed and measured every aspect of his newfound hobby of grape growing and wine making. Wing’s wines proved once again the potential of the area for winemakers.
In the early 2000’s winemakers began coming to the region that they had heard possessed so much potential.
After officially establishing the area at the Lewis Clark Valley American Viticultural Area in 2016, The Lewis-Clark Valley wine
region includes 479 square miles, with nearly 100 acres of vineyards planted throughout the valley, and seven established wineries curating award-winning wines.
Each winery has its own unique story, many which include a family history in agriculture or ties to the Lewis Clark Valley. For more information about the artisans and their incredible wines, you can take a wine tasting tour through Twisted Vine Wine Tours which will allow you to taste the award-winning wines for yourself, as well as learn even more about the history from the incredibly knowledgeable guide, Clint! You can also find more information about the AVA through the Lewis Clark Valley Wine Alliance!
The unique history of the Lewis Clark Valley does not stop at wine. The Lewis Clark Valley is also home to Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge. You can experience its rugged beauty yourself on a premier jet boat tour through one of the areas guide services to learn the legends and lore from your experienced captain and see prehistoric petroglyphs along the Snake River!
Whatever brings you to the Lewis Clark Valley, whether that be wine, water or history, you will be sure to have the experience of a lifetime!