An Introduction to Idaho Wine

An Introduction to Idaho Wine

When people’s thoughts turn to American wine regions, they usually think of Napa Valley and other California American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) such as Sonoma or Lodi.  Outside California, other sites like Walla Walla in Washington and the Finger Lakes AVA of New York make the list.

I’m guessing that unless you’re an Idaho resident or a total wine nerd you probably haven’t heard of the Snake River Valley, which is Idaho’s first and only AVA.

As someone lucky enough to live (and drink!) in the great state of Idaho, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  Idaho wine is kind of a big deal.

Why? Because the pieces that could motivate wine lovers enough to get the Gem State on the map are coming together right now.  First come the growers, then the winemakers, then the ever-growing customer base.  People start drinking, talking and writing. Awards and acclaim follow.  This IS happening and it’s an exciting time!

So let’s talk about Idaho for a minute.  The following is an excerpt from my blog post about terroir:  “It’s in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s not a coastal state. We experience four full seasons.  Weather in Idaho can be kind of weird, cloudy morning, sunny afternoon or vice versa.  We can have warm days and cool nights.  Summer months are H-O-T! Rain and snow levels tend to be moderate (mountains excluded).  Huge swaths of the state are maintained as arable land to support numerous farming operations, while other geographic areas have been clearly marked by a history of volcanic activity.  Lots of rivers and lakes can be found, as well as a vast flood plain.”

In other words it’s ideal for grape growing.

Last September Idaho held its 5th annual Idaho Wine Competition, held by Great Northwest Wine at Ste. Chapelle Winery in the heart of the Snake River Valley (to see a complete list of winners please go here.

I’d like to share a few of my favorites that claimed top awards.

Huston Vineyards 2012 Malbec

Huston wine

Winner Best Red and Best in Show.  Huston Vineyards 2012 Malbec is 14.3% alcohol.  Fruit, spice, and earth revealed on the nose.  These transfer nicely on the palate with warm tannins and a spicy mouthfeel.  Lingers on the tongue well after the swallow with a solid finish.  An A wine (see how I rate wine here).

Coiled Wines 2013 Dry Riesling

Coiled wine

Winner Best White Wine. Coiled 2012 is 13.1% alcohol by volume and has less than 1% residual sugars, making it dry by definition.  It has floral fruity scents, particularly melon and citrus.  That fruitiness translates to the flavor which is wonderfully tangy with just a bit of acidic bite.  The strong finish clinches my A rating.

Sawtooth Estate Winery 2013 Classic Fly Series Cinsault Rose’

Sawtooth wine

Winner Best Rosé.  Sawtooth Cinsault Rose’ is 13.30% alcohol by volume, 95% Cinsault and 5% Muscat Blanc.  This is a dry delightful Rosé with a sweet strawberry-peach smell and vague floral notes.  Though it has definite fruit flavors, it is quite dry with a crisp mouthfeel and smooth finish, an A wine.

I hope this inspires you to buy Idaho next time you are pursuing the wine aisle!

*This article first appeared as a Guest Post for The Desert Wine Guy.

The Living Room Project

2014 – The Year of the Living Room

Happy New Year! Wine Dine DIY back in action yo!

Many of you have reached out during the last month to ask if I am still blogging and the answer is an emphatic YES!  I took an unplanned, unannounced hiatus this holiday season, but I am back and ready to fill the new year with wine reviews, recipes, and DIY projects.

Before we move on, let’s wrap up the great project of 2014: The Living Room Saga.

As you may remember I started this project because the living room consisted of dirty old carpet, mauve walls and brass light fixtures.  I felt sure there was hardwood under the carpet, and that it would be a fairly easy room makeover.


Oh, there was hardwood all right!  It was just hidden under a layer of linoleum.

Linoleum City

And another layer of adhesive and glue.

Underside of the adhesive backing

Then I found out that the rich hardwood turned into nasty-ass plywood not even halfway across the room.  Much swearing took place.

I persevered and went on to sand and stain the floor and even managed to paint the ceiling and light fixtures.

When last we met, the room looked like this:

hardwood and plywood

After having stained, I decided I still hated how the plywood looked and pondered that situation.

Whilst I thought on the floor I painted the walls!  It’s a blue-gray color called Montage and I love it.

Blue Walls

Since that turned out so well, I went ahead and painted the floor too! Here is how I did it:

First I measured the width of the hardwood planks.

Measuring width of plank

Then I measured the same distance (2 inches) from the walls and marked the spot.

Marking 2 inches from fireplace

I moved a few inches, measured and marked again.


Then connected the dots with a line.

Connecting the dots

This formed a square, which I outlined with painters tape.

painter tape square

I primed it.


Then painted.

Painted Floor

Then sealed it with a water based polyurethane.


Ahem! I have an announcement to make…


Living Room before 2Living Room after 2

Now comes the fun part, the decorating!

Living Room Before 1Living room after 1

As I see the before and after photos now I find it so funny that I picked a color to paint the floor that is similar to the carpet we had! I picked that color because I had it on hand and I thought it would brighten the room having picked a dark wall color.

Nick and I love the look of the new room.  It was definitely worth all the effort though I think I’m going to pick a much simpler project for 2015.

Famous last words eh?

staining a hardwood floor

Staining Hardwood is Super Easy Lemon Squeezy

Staining the living room floor was by far the easiest part of the project.

The main goal at this point was color matching the stain with the hardwood throughout the rest of the house.  I picked two samples at Home Depot: Minwax Natural and Golden Oak.  The Golden Oak was too dark, but the Natural was perfect!

Floor samples


Then I did a floor check using a small 36 grit sandpaper block over a few drool spots that The Beast had left me (in order for Lindsay to get outside he has to go through a small area of the living room).

drool spots

Then I used a Shop-Vac to suck up any remaining wood dust left over from the sanding process.

To apply the stain on the hardwood I used wiping cloths bought at Home Depot, because the packaging promised me that they were ideal for staining.  Which, they were. Yay!

wiping cloths

As I mentioned above, the staining process was super easy.  I dabbed a bit of the cloth into the stain:


Then wiped into the hardwood, following the direction of the grain:


NOTE: a mask, knee pads and gloves are recommended.  I started with just knee pads, but quickly realized that I needed the mask and gloves because the stain is pungent and prone to get all over your hands.

I worked my way across the floor:

staining across the floor

Stained myself into a corner:

into the corner

And finally made my way out of the room:

out the door

As you can see the stain was a perfect match for the adjoining room and thusly the hardwood throughout!

That bit of the floor took less than an hour which was thrilling after the many time-consuming steps beforehand.

Now to seal it.  The Minwax said it would seal along with staining, but it was apparent that if anything spilled (or drooled) on the floor it would be ruined.  Once the floor was completely dry I used Minwax Polyurethane in Clear Satin to super seal it.


A couple of things to make sure of when choosing polyurethane.  First, if you use an oil-based stain like I did, also use an oil-based sealer.  Second, pay attention to how glossy you want your floor.  I chose Clear Satin because it is the least glossy (clear gloss is the most glossy).

Glossy is a weird word.

I applied it with a foam brush and like the stain I went with the grain.

sealing the floor

Once it was dry I lightly sanded with a 220 grit sandpaper block and applied a second coat.  A necessary evil to really get the poly absorbed.

It looks gorgeous!

stained floor

Wondering about the plywood?

I stained it too.

stained plywood

I think we can all agree that next to the beautiful hardwood it kind of hurts your eyes.

hardwood and plywood

My eyes! My eyes!


As much and I do mean AS MUCH as I want to be done, I just can’t look at that every day.




I’ve been looking at painted floors on Pinterest and I’m about 95% sure that I’m going to go that route.  I am, however, willing to entertain any and all ideas!  I’d love to hear yours in the comments.

Thanksgiving Events Idaho

Celebrate Thanksgiving at Idaho Wineries!

Thanksgiving week will be knocking at the door soon, bringing with it all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  Idaho wineries will be right in the thick of these busy times, offering everything from barrel tastings to food and drink pairings to once-a-year sale prices.  Instead of fighting mall crowds this year, let us drink!

You probably want to begin sweet talking potential designated drivers right about now.

Here is a breakdown of the winery events statewide:

Boise/Garden City

Cinder, Coiled & Telaya

  • November 28-30, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Barrel and regular tastings from all three wineries with complimentary logo glass. Food trucks and kid-friendly crafts station on site. Adults can enjoy a proper art gallery (and beverage) in the mezzanine.
  • $15 per person, 2 free admissions if you are a wine club member.

Potter Wines

  • November 28, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Free tastings and Thanksgiving specials!

Mouvance Winery

  • November 28, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. $5 pours and wine specials.
  • November 29, 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  Open house, Oregon Pinot Noir with food pairings.

Snake River Winery

  • November 28-29, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Barrel samples and food and wine for purchase.

Split Rail Winery

  • November 26, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and November 28-30, 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Barrel tastings and light appetizers.

Fraser Vineyards

  • November 29, 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. $8 per person includes barrel tasting, bread, cheese and chocolate.
  • November 30, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. $4 per person includes barrel tasting.
  • Special holiday prices on bottles.


Périple Wines

  • November 28, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • See the new store and enjoy barrel tasting with chocolate pairings.

Caldwell Wine Country

Koenig Vineyards

  • November 26, 28-30, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Complimentary soup and wine specials.  New releases to share.

Bitner Vineyards

  • November 21-26, 29-30, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and November 28, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Enjoy appetizers and get one FREE case of Chardonnay when purchasing a case of red.

HAT Ranch Winery

  • November 28- 30, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Celebrate the winemaker’s birthday with wine tastings, cheese and birthday cake.

Fujishin Family Cellars & Lost West Winery

  • November 28 -30, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Enjoy complimentary tastings of the current release.
  • Barrel tasting $5 per person, free for members.

Hells Canyon Winery & Zhoo Zhoo

  • November 28-29, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Wine sale and holiday open house.
  • $8 per person, includes a souvenir stemless glass.

Huston Vineyards

  • November 21-26, 28-30, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • 3 wines and small bites. Barrel taste the 2014 vintage.
  • $10 per person with a custom Huston wine glass.

Ste. Chapelle Winery

  • November 28-29, 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Barrel tastings, mini tour, light appetizers and music.
  • $10 per person, $5 members, both get a logo wine glass.

Williamson Orchards & Vineyards

  • November 28-29, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and November 30, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Barrel taste with cheese and chocolate. Enjoy music and get 30% off wine cases.


3 Horse Ranch Vineyards

  • November 26, 28-30, 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Vertically tasting Cabernet Sauvignon Library Wines with fruit and cheese. 10% off purchase of Library Wines.
  • $5 per person, free for Les Trois Vins members


Indian Creek Winery

  • November 28-29, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and November 30, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • $7 per person, $5 members – 50% of fee goes to the Humane Society.
  • Includes logo glass, wine samples, barrel tasting, and appetizers. Enjoy photo booth and music.
  • $7 per person, $5 members – 50% of all entry fees will be donated to the Humane Society.


Sawtooth Estate Winery

  • November 29-30, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Thanksgiving Open House and Barrel Tasting. Includes wine glass, tour, wine pairings and music.
  • $15 per person, $10 wine club members


Pend d’Oreille Winery

  • November 28-29, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Barrel tasting. Call for reservations (208) 265-8545

NOTE:  All Idaho wineries are closed on Thanksgiving.

Please contact me if you are interested in being my designated driver! I know how I’m spending Black Friday and I hope I will be seeing you some of you.

For more information on any of the wineries listed, please see the Idaho Wine Commission website.

Make jelly from backyard grapes

Making Jelly from Backyard Grapes

Before we get into Jellypalooza, I want to say hello and welcome to everyone who subscribed this weekend during Sidonia’s 25th Annual Beli Danse Acadamie Hafla: Hi! Welcome!

When we last discussed grapes, I demonstrated how I make large batches of beverage grape juice.  I ended up making 12 quarts, which put a small dent in my harvest while leaving plenty for another project – canned grape jelly!

I was able to use the same initial steps from the juicemaking recipe to get started on the jelly, though  on a much larger scale due to my still-bountiful pile of grapes.  I dumped them unmeasured into a large pot until it looked halfway full, then added enough water to cover the top layer.

grapes covered in water

I brought the grapes to a gentle boil and watched them split over the next 15 minutes.

grapes cooked

2 cups at a time, I smashed a grapes/water mixture through a mesh colander and strained the juice with cheesecloth.  Please see my post on grape juice for a more in-depth look at this process, which was performed identically.

I went from this:

buckets with washed de-stemmed grapes

To this:

grape juice in bucket

You can imagine how long this took.

Like half a season of X-Files long.

I need to start making jelly like it’s the 21st Century.  Someone get me a juicer!

I took pics of the process, but most did not turn out.  You’ll have to use the juice post or your own imagination to envision this one.

So, I had juice that needed to turn into jelly.  I really REALLY wanted to do this without adding pectin.  I don’t use it with jelly made from homegrown quince, but much to my dismay I have yet to crack that code with grapes.

That said, in my large pot I added 4 cups of grape juice, the juice of 1 lemon, and one packet of pectin, then heated it on the stove over medium-high while stirring often.  NOTE: Make sure to read the instructions on the pectin package as not all are the same.

As the juice began to heat, I added five cups of sugar.

I got a contact high from secondhand sugar steam, which probably helped me keep going.

I skimmed the foam off the top as the juice neared the boiling point.

Once it started bubbling, I let it boil hard for one minute, then took the pot off the stove.

Meanwhile I boiled the jelly jars and lids for 10 minutes.

Like I said in the grape juice post, it’s a bit of dance doing both these tasks at once and it certainly keeps you busy!

Once the boiling was done, I transferred the jelly into jars, put on the lids (with the help of a kitchen towel as the glass was HOT), and flipped them upside down.

jelly upside down

After several minutes I checked to make sure the lids had popped and sealed the jelly properly.  For me this method is almost 100% effective.  I rarely have to boil them to seal, but should you find yourself with a lid that you can depress with your finger, boiling the jars for another five minutes should do the trick.  If it doesn’t, enjoy the jelly immediately because it will spoil before too long.

I kept some jelly for Nick and me to start eating over bread and butter immediately.  Pretty delicious if I do say so myself!

backyard grape jelly

If I have this many grapes next year, I might try to make wine.  What do you think?  Should I go for it?