Wine

Eagle vineyard helps make Idaho wine-industry history

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards, established in 2002 north of Eagle, spans 46 acres and is the largest planting in the new Eagle Foothills American Viticultural Area.
3 Horse Ranch Vineyards, established in 2002 north of Eagle, spans 46 acres and is the largest planting in the new Eagle Foothills American Viticultural Area. Great Northwest Wine

Martha Cunningham helped establish her vineyard more than a decade ago, but the Eagle Foothills remains the frontier of the Idaho wine industry.

Wednesday morning, however, it began to make headlines throughout U.S. wine industry. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) established the Eagle Foothills American Viticultural Area — the first AVA entirely within Idaho’s borders.

Cunningham, co-owner of 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards with her husband, Gary, made it happen as the primary author of the petition to the federal government.

“I can hardly talk. My mind is gone,” Cunningham told Great Northwest Wine. “It’s exciting. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful.”

The Eagle Foothills becomes the first sub-AVA of the Snake River Valley, and its 49,815 acres makes it twice the size of the Lake Chelan AVA in Washington state. It’s also the second AVA established this year in the Pacific Northwest, following the still-controversial The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater in February.

“I’m just thrilled we have a new AVA,” said Moya Dolsby, executive director of the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission. “This puts Idaho on the map again and serves as validation that yes, we are a recognized grape growing region. There aren’t a ton of acres out there, but hopefully there will be in the future.”

According to the news release, “TTB is issuing this regulation in response to a petition submitted on behalf of local grape grower and vintners. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase.”

Read the complete story at Great Northwest Wine.

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