Anyone who has spent time in Idaho’s wine country knows that finding a bite to eat out there is no easy task.
The Sunnyslope area of Caldwell is currently booming, especially with the recent openings of Sawtooth Winery and Koenig Vineyards’ new tasting rooms. But the wine scene in this burgeoning swath of the Snake River Valley appellation is sorely lacking two key factors that impede its growth.
“I think we all know that there are a couple elements missing that could enhance the overall experience for local residents and out-of-state tourists, and that’s more dining and a lodging presence,” said Scott DeSeelhorst, owner of the aptly named Snake River Winery.
“There seems to be some momentum in Sunnyslope at the moment.”
DeSeelhorst, along with his wife, Susan, have set out to change the dining landscape in the epicenter of Idaho’s wine country. They have plans to open a new tasting room in the coming months that will have a commercial kitchen, allowing them to serve farm-to-table cuisine. This is made possible by their new partnership with Peaceful Belly Farm, which has moved their growing operations to the same property in Sunnyslope.
“We are shooting for an early summer opening. We have had some setbacks, but hopefully it’s open by July 4,” he said.
They have been busy turning the 33-acre spread — a former sheep farm at 20021 Hoskins Road — into an attractive wine country destination. The tasting room will share space with Stack Rock Cidery, owned by Clay and Josie Erskine of Peaceful Belly Farm.
“We love it out here. And the Erskines love it so much they moved their family to Sunnyslope,” DeSeelhorst said.
Snake River Winery has become well known over the years for their fruit-forward wines, made with grapes grown at the winery’s Arena Valley Vineyard in Parma. They recently closed their tasting room in BoDo — where The Stil ice cream shop now resides — to focus on this new venture. The winery is also a longtime vendor at the Boise Farmers Market.
Scott DeSeelhorst, the head winemaker and vineyard manager, has a strong culinary background. He graduated from Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona before taking on the wintertime executive chef position at Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah, a position he held until 2015.
DeSeelhorst is still putting the finishing touches on the wine-friendly menu, which will change with the season and availability of produce.
“The concept is fresh off the farm with most of the products coming off our farm and augmented by proteins from nearby sources,” he said.
In addition to seating inside the tasting room, there will be a spacious patio with a panoramic view of the Snake River and looming Owyhee Mountains.
The tasting room is slated to be open five days a week, and it will also feature a farm stand, u-pick berries and flower fields.