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News Flash from the Road

Snake River Valley Gems

Snake River Valley Gems

Plant yourself at Hotel 43 in downtown Boise — mid-century suave with a sense of fun (981 Grove St.; or 800/243-4622). Then make forays west to these great producers.

Cinder. You don't have to go far — this is an urban winery, right in Garden City. Melanie Kraus is turning out Old World–style, lean and lively reds. Don't miss her 2008 Bordeaux blend. 107 E. 44th St., Garden City; or 208/407-4347.

Sawtooth Winery. This well-established place has a new winemaker, raising the bar. The views are lovely, and the 2009 Carmenère yummy. 13750 Surrey Ln., Nampa; or 208/467-1200.

Williamson Orchard and Vineyards

Williamson Orchards & Vineyards. Hundred-year-old ranching family turns to wine growing. Buy a pumpkin and a bottle of 2007 Viognier. 19692 Williamson Ln., Caldwell; or 208/459-7333.

Koenig Vineyards. One brother makes wine (for the family winery as well as several others in the region, including Williamson); the other distils vodka (the huckleberry-infused version is a big seller, but go for the straight-up potato batches). Don't leave without a bottle of 2006 "Cuvèe Amelia" Syrah. 20928 Grape Ln., Caldwell; or 208/455-8386.

Bitner Vineyards. Views from the patio of the sweet little tasting hut are stunning. The 2006 Reserve Shiraz/Cabernet (a two-to-one blend) is impressive (Greg Koenig makes Bitner wines), but the Chardonnay they sell in a box—$25 for four bottles' worth—is a steal. 16645 Plum Rd., Caldwell; or 208/455-1870.

Huston Vineyards. Just now releasing its first wines (made by Melanie Kraus of Cinder), Huston is aiming for the top with its Private Reserve Red. But its Chicken Dinner White is a great specimen of local Viognier, and the old barn you get to taste in—when they're open—is on the best-named road around. 16473 Chicken Dinner Rd., Caldwell; or 208/455-7975.

Coyotes Fine Wines. The people behind Bitner Vineyards have just opened this wine bar in Caldwell, and will soon be offering at least one wine from every winery in the state (because, as owner Ron Bitner puts it, "We don't have enough of our own wine to sell"), plus some simple nibbles. 217 S. Kimball Ave., Caldwell; 208/409-8950.