Sometimes you stumble across something that excites you to the point that you feel the need to share with everybody…..a lot! I first visited and wrote about the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA when it was a newborn, back in 2016. It was remarkable. The wine, the region, the people. Everybody knew that they were part of something special, and there was a collective eagerness and anticipation for where it already was and where it might go. That was four short years ago. Here’s where it’s come so far.
No. 1: Sip Magazine’s Wine Destination for 2020
In the interest of transparency, I may have had something to do with this one. Actually, yeah - I pitched and wrote the proclamation to “Drink Wine Here in 2020” for the magazine’s 2019 “Best of the Northwest” fall issue. I want to say that was maybe the 5th or 6th time I’ve written for a publication espousing the region? No regrets.
No. 2: Wine Press Northwest 2020 Idaho Winery of the Year
Mike Pearson and Melissa Sanborn have been building this bully for over a decade. Their dedication to getting the AVA designation for the region was one of the big reasons it happened. And their elegant reds only helped bolster the case. They also have a stunner of a tasting room in downtown Moscow if you find yourself out that way.
No. 3: Wine Press Northwest 2020 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year
So in addition to the Idaho Winery of the year, the Lewis-Clark AVA was responsible for the Winery of the Year within the entire Northwest! And anyone who’s ever sampled the wares produced by Coco and Karl Umiker, understand that this was more of an eventuality than it was a shock. This is what happens when you put a couple with heart and more degrees about growing things than you can shake a stick at, on a Century Farm in a prime location.
No. 4: The New Rivaura Estate Vineyards
Great wine is obviously the cornerstone of any recognizable wine region. But having destination wineries, places with a bit of a “wow factor” that you want to move into and never leave, doesn’t hurt things either. Lindsay Creek Vineyards set the tone early and now have been joined by the new Rivaura Estate Vineyards. Chosen for its ideal grape-growing location, which happens to be perfectly perched on a bluff overlooking a stunning valley view at the confluence of the Potlatch and Clearwater Rivers, Rivaura needs to be added to your hit list.
No. 5: It’s an established and burgeoning wine scene, all at once!
There are currently no fewer than 11 vineyards and 10 wineries in the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA. There’s an outstanding wine tour, led by Clint Hoiland of Twisted Vine Wine Tours. Some wineries offer tastings during scheduled hours. Others, like the award-winning Two Bad Labs Vineyard, provide intimate by appointment tasting experiences. In addition, a number of tasting rooms have opened downtown, including Vine 46 Winery and Jovinea Cellars in the thriving Morgan’s Alley section, with more on the way. As a destination AVA, there’s enough variety and well-deserved accolades to justify Lewis-Clark Valley’s seat at the table. But it’s still small, charming, and friendly.
When you go wine tasting out there, you feel like you’re getting away with something - like there should be lines, reservations, or some other form of hassle. Am I actively trying to change all of that with stories like this? Yeah, maybe a little, but they’ve earned it. And thanks to a handful of factors, including not being proximal to a major Northwest city, it’s never going to be like the Willamette Valley or Woodinville. And thank the powers that be for that! Besides, I’m not the one handing out all the hardware. That falls squarely on the shoulders of Wine Press Northwest.
Article by Adam Sawyer.